The final stage of this years ‘Easter in the Alice’ was more than another 40km of fast, flowy desert racing it also marked a memorium for local MTB community organiser and former race director Paul Darvodelsky. Darvodelsky lived in Alice Springs for close to a decade drawn to the town from his native Sydney by it’s magic MTB trails and accompanying community. He soon enough became an integral and very well respected member of the community here. Along with his wife Catherine Vero they owned and managed the local cinema providing an important cultural cornerstone of the desert community. In the MTB scene ‘Darvo’ was instrumental to the success of the ‘Easter in the Alice’ stage race, helping raise the event to the current national competition status whilst still maintaining it’s local character. A champion rider himself Paul was taken by cancer in 2018. His legacy however lives on strong which was evident in today’s 3rd and final stage.
All riders wore a black armband in honour of Darvo and a moment’s silence was observed in his honour prior to the early start time of 6.30am. Joined by glimpses of the rising sun riders were instructed to race as always with guts, courage and respect. Traits that were personified in Darvodelsky.
Off the start line it was yesterday’s 3rd place getter Bernard Cossar-Smith from Cairns who launched off the line at a blistering space forcing a smaller selection than usual at the beginning of the race. Locals Hartung and the Hackett twins were present along with race leader Andy Blair, 2nd place your author (Justin Morris) and Peter Arnott 2nd on GC at the 2018 Tour de Timor from Darwin. The pace remained high through to the first extended section of fire trail at about the 10km mark where Henry Hackett launched leaving Cossar-Smith, Arnott and his brother Fergus dispatched. Henry Hackett showed impressive skills in the long single track section to follow with Blair, Hartung and myself in tow. At the halfway mark a longer fire trail section with elevation to be gained greeted the riders, it was here that the ‘old man strength’ proved to be decisive. Myself and Blair (the more elderly of the group) set away with Blair doing the lions share of the work into the closing kilometre’s where a sprint finish was on the cards. Blair 1st, Morris 2nd and the local youngster Henry Hackett put in a late race charge to finish not far behind in 3rd and then likewise for Hartung in 4th. The young Hackett twins stated after the race that they find the sport of MTB racing very motivating and each of them “really, really wants to get selected for the world’s team” in the future. Following in the footsteps of fellow Alice Springs champions Ryan Standish and Luke Pankhurst.
This decided the general classification with Blair taking the victory ahead of Morris with Henry Hackett and Oliver Hartung in a close battle for 3rd overall taken by Hackett. Hartung could take solace in being 3rd elite overall.
The women’s race again was a duel between Anna Beck from Queensland and Briony Mattocks from Sydney. With yesterday’s stage going to Mattocks it was possible for either of the duo to clinch the overall title today. Anna Beck put the hammer down to seal her overall victory finishing with a gap to Mattocks. There was also a battle royale on the final GC podium spot between Karen Hill and Nicola Jelinek. Hill finished ahead in the stage today but did not manage to claw back the time from Jelinek to get the 3rd overall. Full results here.
With racing done by 9.30am today for competitors it left time for riders to experience some more of the non cycling attractions of this part of the world. Some have opted to make a week long vacation and visit Uluru amongst other area’s to visit in the red centre of Australia. The Outback Cycling Easter in the Alice 2019 officially wraps up at the presentation dinner on the evening after the final stage. With a meal and viewing of a highlights video from the event prepared by the crew at ‘Ready Aim Media’. Great to see this racing continuing and sustaining it’s professional yet community style feel that makes this a ‘must do’ for MTBer’s around Australia and the world.