(Posted - 15 May 2012)
Day One of the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro wrapped up today with a Alice Springs town centre hill sprint that drew crowds armed with ringing cowbells, all cheering on riders as they powered to the top of Anzac Hill, a 300 metre dash that burned legs and lungs to the core.
Following the morning’s 42km cross country in which last year’s champion Andy Blair took line honours, it was, by the yellow jersey wearer’s own admission, always going to be a tough ask to back up when faced with the pure speed of the younger crowd on his heels.
Blair nominated Team Torq’s young gun threesome in Robbie Hucker (second place in Stage One) and Jack Haig (third), and Billie Sewell as the guys to watch on Anzac Hill, but it was a blistering 45-second sprint by Ben Hogarth, tenth after Stage One, that won out.
Hogarth had to sit back on the hot seat – literally a chair at the top of the mountain reserved for the fastest time of the moment – and sweat out nine remaining challengers, including Hucker and Blair.
None could match up in the end, with Blair only just making the start line after forgetting his timing chip and having to race back to his hotel to retrieve it. He returned with only a minute and a half to spare before his allotted start time slot.
INTERVIEW: with Stage One winner Andy Blair
Team Torq’s Billy Sewell forgot his timing chip altogether, riding the hill without resulting in organisers offering him a one minute result, having witnessed his sprint up, which they judged most certainly quicker than sixty seconds; but he was penalised for the slip of mind.
Blair remained on podium and retained the yellow leaders’ jersey with a 46 second run into second while third went to Robbie Hucker in 49 seconds.
Hogarth and Blair, whose efforts earn them a 20 second and 10 second time bonus respectively, were the only riders to tackle the hill with road slicks fitted to their mountain bikes – a legal choice that seems to have paid dividends.
INTERVIEW: with Stage One winner Melissa Anset
In the women’s, Sarah Holmes smashed up the hill in a blistering 1:06 ride to take the female Queen of Anzac title by a barely a second. Holmes was fifth over the line in the day’s earlier stage.
In her wake, just, was Stage One winner Melissa Anset who maintained her overall her overall lead with a 1:07 second ride up the hill, while Naomi Hansen registered another third place, making it two for the day.
Out of interest sake, a few time stats on the 300m climb:
Most relaxed: 00:02:14
Tomorrow sees the Red Centre riders head out on a 49km cross country course, starting from the historical Telegraph Station Precinct just outside Alice Springs and finishing at Lassiters Casino with the majestic MacDonnell Ranges as a fitting backdrop.
Day 02: 49km
Day 03: 77km
Day 04: 23km Time Trial + 23km night race
Day 05: 40km *Ref: Hogan's Heroes; Holmes-a-Court. Geddit? No? There goes the career as a sub editor...