NOTE: Results for Stages 1-7 found HERE
Canberra-based rider, Andy Blair continued his unbroken streak of stage wins in the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro in Alice Springs, NT, today, taking line honours in the final 40km stage to claim the first back-to-back overall title in the event’s five-year history.
Blair dominated throughout the week, never really being challenged across the seven stages, especially after the withdrawal through injury of the two Team Torq riders, Jack Haig and Robbie Hucker, the only likely threats.
The last stage did prove a final hurdle, however, as he hit the trails with tired legs from the previous night stage.
“When you feel good, you can dig deep, like I did last night. But today I didn’t feel super comfortable. So it was more about just getting through it. The other guys were strong today. I led off the start to make hard for everyone but just couldn’t shake them.”
Of the back-to-back title, Blair was happy “and relieved to pull it off again. It’s always a good race to come out and enjoy and to win to win a row makes it all the better.”
Blair now faces the prospect of chasing a hat trick next year.
“We’ll see how we go - it’s tempting and it’s a good fun week, so I wouldn’t mind having a go.”
Blair now lines up for the National Marathon Championships in three weeks’ time.
The battle for minor placings in the Open Men’s boiled down to a much closer race with any of Ben Hogarth, Chris Hansen, Stuart Brown, and Ben Gooley in contention. In the end, with a final dash into second, Ben Hogarth grabbed the silverware, while third place was taken out by 36 year-old Chris Hanson, which makes him the first Northern Territorian resident to hold an overall podium position.
“It was a tough five days of riding, intense, but the tracks are superb,” says Hanson.
Not on the early stage radar, Hanson weaved his way into the mix late, despite suffering a few setbacks.
“I had a flat on Wednesday on the long stage, so I had to do a lot of chasing to not lose a lot of time.
On the night stage after the Sunset Climb, my front wheel washed out, I had a stack and squashed finger so I became a bit gun-shy.”
The battle was then on between Hanson and Stuart Brown for the bronze.
“I made up time which put me in front on Thursday, so I thought I might be in the mix. But with the Torq boys crunching out it was also a battle just to stay upright. I’m pretty happy I did.”
In the women’s, Melissa Anset rode to a podium placing for every stage, dropping off the top dais only twice. She claimed a comfortable overall win ahead of closest rival, second placed Naomi Hansen from the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team.
Terri Rhodes, who jumped in and out of the top three placings all week, managed to hold together consistent enough rides to place third.
In the early stages of today’s Stage Seven, it was Naomi Hansen out front, and Anset could have sat back and cruised, knowing she had enough time up her sleeve to keep a hold of the yellow leader’s jersey. But the racing instinct took over.
“I could see Naomi was ahead, and had to work a bit to get through traffic to get to her. Then we were riding on a dirt road together, and I could see up ahead a bit of single track so I dived ahead.”
From then on Anset had the hold on the lead for the stage and for the event.
“From there I was powering along, although there were sections that became very slippery that I ha to pull back on, and then the rocks were heaps of fun.
Anset couldn’t have hoped for a better result, given it was the first time she’d put in a competitive effort.
“Last time I just rode, this time I was raced it. But I didn’t think I would win, so it was a really nice surprise. Kind of weird in a way as I just enjoy riding, and do a few local races in my area, so to win a big event like this is pretty huge.”
“It’s given me some confidence, and I’m not usually confident. But I’m not about to get a coach. I just like to ride my bike and have fun.
STAGE SIX WOMEN'S
1. Melissa ANSET 02:01:13
2. Naomi HANSEN 02:07:37
3. Terri RHODES 02:10:50
STAGE SIX MEN'S
1. Andrew BLAIR 01:41:24
2. Ben HOGARTH 01:42:07
3. Ben GOOLEY 01:44:13
FINAL STANDINGS MEN
1. Andrew BLAIR,
2. Ben HOGARTH,
3. Chris HANSEN,
FINAL STANDINGS WOMEN
1. Melissa ANSET,
2. Naomi HANSEN,
3. Terri RHODES,
More details at www.ICME.com.au
More news at MarathonMTB.com