The last stage of a Mountain Bike stage race can be a bit of a parade, at least for some of the race. At the Crocodile Trophy in 2011, an easy break was allowed to go until the water point – but beyond that, the race leader Jeroen Boelen was keen to net another win bonus from his team. The racing at the Cape Epic and the TransAlp is also very much on right up to the final finish line. So the Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro is no different.
After a lead out through town from the Chifley Resort, the pace lifted dramatically as race leader Andy Blair and Subaru-MarathonMTB.com rider Nick Both aimed to string it out and maybe get Both further up the rankings. The pace was pretty high as we went through a drainage ditch, and out onto the single track. The main hitters were present: Blair, Both, Hogarth, Gooley, Brown, Hanson, then riders like myself, Bach, Randall and Sewell getting a bit cross eyed to stay on board. It was about seven by the next bit of 4WD track, although as that climbed it was myself and Both out the hoop.
Curiously, there was a 4WD stuck across some scrubby double track, seemingly trying to emulate the Austin Powers multiple-point-turn move. There was just a bit of room off the back bumper to get around.
In the next part of single track it was Both leading with Randall and Bach behind. As Randall noted:
“Some of us are racing for 9th on GC here Bothy!”
Somewhat tongue in cheek, but Randall, Bach and myself were all pretty close at that end of the top 10. And so it went on. I had a whole lot of fun racing with Sam Bach and Ben Randall. Their superior skills kept me under pressure all day (all week!) but I was just lucky enough to cross the line a little bit ahead today – but not enough for the time lost to the two of them in the Time Trial and night race yesterday.
In the front, Blair took the win from Hogarth and Gooley, despite a crash near the end. Melissa Anset took another win from Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Racer Naomi Hansen, with Terri Rhodes finishing closely behind Hansen.
Gary Harwood was very happy to take the Veteran Mens win and overall, and will no doubt make short work of his bottle of winners wine. He was set to have a great race with Marc Baechli, but after a stage ending mechanical on Wednesday, he was racing well down the rankings.
The racing out here was a whole lot of fun. The race isn’t so big that you get lost in it. You get a really good local feel from the event, and can appreciate how keen the local riders are in the area – their trails are just amazing. Although big eight day (or longer) Mountain Bike Stage Races are an experience, this five day race packs a punch, and will let you get your recovery and bike maintenance patterns dialled before you go and tackle something much bigger. If you can get a week off in 2013, you should lock the ICME into your agenda.
Full stage results can be found on the Multisport Australia site.