The final day of the 2018 Port to Port promised to be many things. It would be on of the shorter stages at 45km, and the flattest with only 570m of climbing. But it would also have some of the best trails, and be the only stage that would take us from one point to another. There was also the chance that the open men’s race could be tipped on its head again, and the Masters 1 title was also on the line.
Lining up at Swansea Bellmont Surf Club, the pace was settled for the roll out, but nerves were building because as soon as the car pulled off we would launch into a narrow funnel into the golf course after some sandy and grassy trail.
The next 15 minutes or so were pretty hectic, with riders flailing in the sand, getting back on when on the greens of the gold course, splitting again when crossing the worst placed bridge in the entire race, then coming back together on bike track, then splitting at the entries and exits of the bike paths.
Rohin Adams tried to get away but thought better of it, and it was Cam Ivory who attacked onto some bike path to hit the trails early. He let it all hang out, with about 1 and a half minutes to close if he wanted to regain the leader’s jersey. Ivory admitted he had a couple of small little crashes, But Nankervis did shut the gap down and Johnston was right with him.
They came to the finish together after the singletrack and double-track network in Glenrock, and Nankervis won the stage, sealing his 2nd overall behind Johnston and ahead of Ivory. Jon Odams was 4th and Callum Carson was 5th.
In the women’s race, Holly Harris rode with a smile that lead her through the trails to another stage victory. 2nd place went to Jessica Simpson with Sarah Tucknott just behind.
The podium for the overall looked the same, with Kim Willocks in 4th and Carmen De Rooze in 5th.
Harris has had a big year so far including podium finishes at the XCO and XCM National Championships, and said that this result “really means the Australian season finishes on a high.” Now, she’ll take a break and eat some burgers, and head to Europe in August. She might even see if she can qualify for XCM Worlds in Italy.
In the Masters race, Steffan Merriman was keen to get his jersey back, and while he won the stage Brad Clarke truly dug in to limit his losses and keep the jersey.
Meaghan Stanton continued her clean sweep of stage wins in Masters women and ended up 6th overall in women.
Full results for all of the categories are online.
My day at Port to Port
Tough! While I made contact with the front group for about the first time in living memory, the accordian effect with the bridges and entries to bike paths meant my number was up eventually and I didn’t have the legs to get back. In fact I’d done a bit too much and struggled to even ride the trails properly, making silly mistakes but somehow staying upright – despite many close calls.
I did end up with a few familiar riders including James McDulling who generously passed on a couple of Shot Blocks – life savers as I was cross eyed!
The finishing trails through Glenrock really do deliver, they were a blast to ride even when fatigued, and the road finish with the Pacific Ocean spread in front of you to Dixon Park cannot be beat. The pulled pork burger I ate at the finish is up there with one of the best post-race meals I’ve had.
The 5th Port to Port really delivered. I think one of the great successes of the race is how it attracts so many of the nation’s best riders. A lot of the elite riders in the Open classes, and in Masters, all get along very well, and the event is a great time to connect socially and race one another on a well-prepared and varied course. While the first and second stage were new, it’s the third and fourth stage that really deliver. I spoke to Chris Hellman at the finish, and he feels those stages have a real narrative, they take you somewhere, and I agree. Port to Port 2018 really finished on a high.
Photos: Zoe Binder