Paul Van der Ploeg thumped the final right hand corner into the Mercure Hotel on Sunday morning in Alice Springs to claim his 5th stage win of the 2019 Redback and overall Redback Crown. And he smashed the course record by four minutes while he was at it—coming home in a tick over two hours.
It was an emotional victory for the “Van Man” after he broke his femur bone earlier in the year riding in New Zealand.
“It was so much fun out there today. I just wanted to stay upright. The legs were a bit sore this morning so I just wanted to power on and finish with a stage win. Stages 5 and 6 are definitely the highlights for sure.
I loved the Stage 3 time trial as well but the finish today was so smooth and free flowing. It was awesome to tick this race off and get a win. The doctor said I’d be off the bike for a long time after my crash but here we are eight months later. I couldn’t be happier,” said Van der Ploeg.
Despite winning 5 of the 6 stages, the racing has been close all week with Paul fending off Rohin Adams plus local NT boys Henry Hackett, Owen Chenhall and Oliver Hartung who certainly did not make it an easy win. Hackett and Adams both came in under the course record and placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in today’s Stage 6 race.
Briony Mattocks smoked it down the home straight to take the 2019 Redback Women’s Crown—also in a new course record. Briony eclipsed the previous course record by four minutes on the final Stage 6. Her riding was near flawless across the four days.
“I was really happy to get through that stage. I was pretty lethargic at the start line today so just wanted to get out there and get into a rhythm. I had a massage late yesterday which must have helped. I’ve absolutely loved coming up here for this event,” said Mattocks.
Cycling stalwarts Kristen Gadson and Jessica Tudor rounded out the top 3 in the women’s overall category with impressive riding all week.
The 12th edition of the annual Redback MTB Stage Race drew nearly 150 mountain bikers from across Australia. Riders of all abilities took part including former Australian XC representatives and 13 year old Lucas Clarke from Mt Baw Baw in Victoria.
Lucas became a minor celebrity during the event having barely ridden a mountain bike prior to racing The Redback. Lucas’s Dad promised to buy him a new mountain bike if he completed the gruelling 45km sixth and final stage. And he did.
“I’ve had so much fun up here in the Northern Territory. My first big mountain bike race. And now Dad has to buy me a new bike so I can’t believe it,” said Lucas.
Other categories were a mixed bag of winners from all over the country. Some were competing for the first time and some were competing for the 12th year in a row.
All the action kicked off Thursday morning. Four epic days on endless single track surrounding Alice Springs ensued.
Race Director John Jacoby from Rapid Ascent said he was impressed with the quality of racing on show and proud to deliver the 12th edition of the race.
“We had beautiful conditions again today, not a cloud in the sky. We’ve had some really good racing the past four days, it’s been close at the front end, there’s been some fantastic racing in the masters and vintage categories, with really good depth in both the women’s and the men’s fields—it’s just been a really good level of riding which makes it great for the competitors.
“The riders have really enjoyed the trails, and Stage’s 5 and 6 are definitely still the riders’ favourite.”
“Congratulations to all the placegetters, and well done to all riders. A special mention to Paul Van Der Ploeg—our overall winner—who also takes home the Tavis Johannsen Memorial Trophy for his win in Stage 6 today. And the first local female rider will be presented with the Paul Darvodelsky Memorial Medal.”
“I’d also like to thank the Central Australian Rough Riders (CARR) mountain bike club and National Parks for all their work over the years, tweaking the trails and continually making improvements for riders up here.”
The Redback was first held in 2008 and every year since. It was formerly known as the Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro.
The event hosts riders all the way down the chain from recreational to elite, road cyclists, runners, triathletes, adventure racers, ironmen, locals, first-timers and returning riders. The race is designed to be fun and achievable for riders of all abilities.
All races start and finish within rolling distance of Alice Springs and the Mercure Hotel. Riders have no need for a support crew or hire car and stay in one hotel for the entire event. It’s a truly unique experience with 300 kilometres of endless single tracks added in. For more information about The Redback MTB Stage Race head to theredback.com.au.
Full results head here.