Revered as some of the finest singletrack in the country the Port to Port have made a conscious effort to string together one of the funnest stages of any MTB stage race in Australia. Riders were spared any long significant hill climbs today much to the relief of most riders after the brutal climb of Mt Faulk on stage 3. Instead riders were negotiating the twists, berms, rolls, drops and flow of the trails of suburban Newcastle. Notably the Glenrock, Redhead and Whitebridge trail networks. Riding these trails really outlines why this region has produced such classy MTB athletes over the years including 2018 Australian XCO, XCM and XCC champion Cameron Ivory.
To be able to run such a stage in a heavily urbanised area and coordinate a stage finish at the iconic Merewether beach in Newcastle would require a huge logistical/ organisational operation. So a huge respect must be paid to the Race Director Sally Hill and her team for the slick operation of delivering such a high quality stage to the competitors of Port to Port. If fun singletrack is your thing, this is the stage to mark in your diary for an all out top performance in years to come.
The racing was still tight especially among the minor places in many categories so the pace was on from the gun for riders attacking with gusto in an attempt to enter the singletrack before any potential slower riders. At the pointy end of the field it was again Giant Shimano in the mix but today with the company of Ward Bros, Trek- Shimano and Nankervis cup. Unfortunately Tasman Nankervis suffered a nasty crash ruling them out of contention for a stage podium but still managed to recover to finish the tour. It was prologue winners and early GC leader’s Kyle and Jayden Ward whom would prove the sharpest on the final day taking the stage win and consolidating 3rd position overall GC. Trek-Shimano racing with a cameo appearance from roadie Tom Green continued their impressive consistent performance with 3rd on the stage behind the evergreen GC winners Giant Shimano in Brendan Johnston and Jon Odams.
Women’s pairs was again a carbon copy result from the previous stages with the kiwi pairing of ‘Sam n Kate’ proving their trip across the Tasman was well worth the trip wrapping up their Port to Port with a clean sweep of stages and hence the overall. After 192km and 3500m of climbing over 4days Sam n Kate completed the 2019 Port to Port in 9h10mins. Specialized- Shimano and Trek- Shimano continued Consistent performances to take 2nd and 3rd on the final stage and final GC.
In Mixed Pairs the New England duo of SRAM Merida Aus continued their dominance winning the stage and the mixed overall with their time of 8h56min also placing them in 12th position of ALL teams competing. A testament to the strength of the sibling duo of Holly and Mick harris from Armidale, NSW. Em Viotto and Karl Michelin Beard of Pusy’s Cannondale Shimano continued a solid week with another stage 2nd and confirmed 2nd GC. Pushy’s Shimano of Tristan Ward and Charlotte Culver had a very strong stage taking 3rd despite a nasty crash, their efforts nearly sealing a GC podium spot for them just falling short by 2seconds. Our very own team marathonMTB.com of Imogen Smith and Justin Morris taking the final podium step by the slenderest of margins. Full results here.
Next up in the ‘Epic Series’ of Stage Races in Australia is the ‘Reef to Reef’ in Tropical North Queensland in August.