The increasingly famed mountain bike trails of Central Australia again are playing host to quality racing at a high quality event. ‘The Redback’ MTB stage race run by event organiser Rapid Ascent is now in it’s 11th edition and with an honour roll including names like Andrew Blair, Jason English, Rowena Fry, Holly Harris and Ben Mather the event is held in high regard among the competitive corner of Australian mountain biking. Also however, a key asset of this event as with many MTB stage races in Australia currently is the broad appeal of the events. Close to 200 riders are competing for 4 days of racing in Alice Springs on stages that are achievable for all. With no stages over 50km, the distances and the terrain are palatable for all in this sport. Even present this year is a special ‘e-bike’ competition category, for those inclined to use a little motorised assistance in their cycling.
The morning stage took riders on 39km of rocky trails that challenged all riders as those trying to gain speed encountered a few difficulties whilst those whom were trying to finish mid field had their technical abilities tested. By the time the challenges were conquered all riders were crossing the finish line in Alice Springs with smiles on their dials. No smiles more broad than that of Scott Thomson from Melbourne whom won the stage in 1h 44min. Scott was working well in a group of the 3 including Jarrod Maroni from Bendigo and local youngster Oliver Hartung. Scott proving to be the strongest and now holds on to a 3min lead in the GC.
In the women’s a battle royale is underway with close racing at the pointy end of the results. Kristen Gadsdon took the win in stage 1 from Katrina Hallima (E-bike) and Carmen De Rooze whom all finished within 2 minutes of each other. With only small time gaps to be gained in the afternoon stage this allowed Gadsdon to hold on to the GC lead.
In the afternoon riders took from the dirt to the tar for stage 2 a 300m BURST up the steep climb to the Anzac Hill a hill in downtown Alice Springs enshrined with memorials to fallen Australian service men and women. This stage has become a staple of this stage and finding fast times has always been a challenge and motivation for those competing here. A stiff head wind would ensure the record would not fall today, alas tight race was again ensured. Early off was marathonMTB.com team rider Justin Morris who held the men’s hot seat for close to an hour with a time of 53seconds. He would eventually finish 4th behind local gun and record holder on the climb Luke Pankhurst with 49seconds, Jarrod Moroni with 50seconds and Scott Thomson in 51seconds.
The tight racing continued in the women’s with Jennifer Davis taking the win after a 5th place this morning. Proving she has a fast twitch power advantage over her competition. The competition within the GC contenders of Gadsdon, Hallama and De Rooze remained very close. Full results available here.
Racing continues tomorrow with a 22km morning Time Trial before a daytime reprieve preceding a night time TT on the same course as the morning.
The Redback will this year also be paying tribute to local MTB identity and long time racer and race organiser Paul Darvodelsky. The Paul Darvodelsky trophy will be awarded to the highest ranked local female rider in the GC. Darvodelsky recently passed away after a long struggle with cancer. He championed the rise of an MTB community in Alice Springs.