A TOUGH WEEK BUT SMILES ALL ROUND AS PORT TO PORT ROLLS INTO NEWCASTLE

26 May 2019

Canberra’s Brendan Johnston proved why he is the King of Australian mountain biking winning an unrivaled six Epic Series Oceania race in a row.

Johnston couldn’t have done it without his partner in crime Jon Adams, with the GIANT Australia Off Road Team resurrecting themselves after an incident-filled day one, to dominate the final three stages. The pair called on all their skill and collective experience, sticking to their plan and believing in themselves.

“Stage racing and mountain bike racing can throw everything at you just like has this week to everyone. We are just stoked to come out on top. We had the issues on day one, got them out of the way and then it was a matter of pushing through and picking off teams as we went. We had strong rides every day and were pumped with our form and how we rode together, we were really strong as a team.”

“Yesterday was particularly our best day and we rode together well on the long climb. We rode perfectly up the front with the best climbers. It was key to us and proved we ride together well. Reef to Reef will be the next time we pair up, so we are looking forward to defending our title there. We are forming a great partnership as we are going along and we are only going to get better with the more races we do.”

“This is six Epic Series race wins in a row for me, so I am stoked. All the good riders turn up for these events and to be on the top for a couple of years is pretty amazing,” the modest Johnston recalled.

Odam said the plan for the last stage into Newcastle made sure they were near the front to avoid problems, to look after themselves and let it unfold.

“We are really quite balanced as a team which is good. We don’t chat heaps out there on the bike we can just tell what each other is doing and you can’t replace that communication with anything. We read each other pretty well and know how we are going and when to do something instinctively. It works well. It has been a great four days. I love the trails, great times and it was wonderful to ride with Brendan. We ride really well together, so I am really looking forward to the next one,” he said.

Determined to make up for a rocky three days in the saddle the Wollongong based Ward Brothers brought everything to the final run into Newcastle, winning the stage and getting some welcome reward from a tough event.

“Going into today we thought it would be nice to finish on a high. Jayden was riding the trails so good we thought maybe there was a chance we could pull back time for second place on GC, so we thought we might as well have a crack. It wasn’t really an attack to go for the stage, it was more there is always a chance you can make up time. After stage 2 we were a bit disappointed, so the stage win is kind of a consolidation,” Kyle said.

In contrast to the drama going on around them in the four days of intense riding through the stunning Newcastle and Hunter region, Kiwis Samara Sheppard and Kate McIlroy put in a flawless performance to win the final stage into Dixon’s Beach and wrap up the Women’s Teams event.

“We had a really good stage today. We pushed on at the front and found ourselves in a really good group and rode really well through the single track holding the wheels and every time I looked back Kate was right there,” Samara said. “The road sections were super fast and the stage just flew by. It was epic. There were no mishaps for the four days, it was perfect for us.”

“Kate and I have done a lot of riding together on road bikes and had a good friendship before this, so we know that we can work through anything we come across. It is great to win Port to Port as a team because I have won it as an individual but it is special to share the victory with someone. It is very different to winning as a solo. You get to ride the highs with another person, it is pretty special,” she said.

Kate said it was a great decision to come over to Australia and she now has a taste for experiencing what the Epic Series events in Cairns and Margaret River have to offer.

“Samara has a lot of skill and I was very conscious of not dropping her wheel the whole time. I have improved a lot over the four days and learned to take a few more risks than I probably would, so it has built my confidence. It has been an awesome four days and I have loved riding with Samara and I am looking forward to the rest of the Epic Series.”

Armidale siblings Holly and Michael Harris kept everyone entertained all week and worked in perfect harmony throughout, dominating the Mixed Teams from the gun.

“It has been an awesome four days. We had a rough start today but we worked our way in and enjoyed the single track. Riding with Michael has been the best idea I have had for a while, he is awesome. I am pretty happy riding with my current partner, so I don’t think I will be changing any time soon.”

“It is really cool to be able to share this Port to Port victory with Michael,” the 2018 solo champ said. ”I think it is way more satisfying to win it as a pair. You are doing it together and it is hard. There are two working pieces to the puzzle and it is hard to keep it smooth and mechanical free. I was just happy with how we worked well together and I am excited to do some more racing with Mick.”

“Holly is riding pretty fast and on some sections she is hurting me,” Michael said. “I often wonder who the stronger partner is but it is really fun and I have had a great week. We were fortunate and didn’t have any problems, so it is hard not to have a smile when everything is going to plan.”

Results – General Classification

Men

1          GIANT AUSTRALIA OFF-ROAD TEAM                         08:00:46           

2          TREK SHIMANO AUSTRALIA                                     08:07:44           

3          WARD BROS                                                           08:08:59           

4          REECE & REESY - DOUBLE TROUBLE                        08:21:22           

5          GIANT AUSTRALIA TEAM                                         08:30:27           

Women

1          SAM N KATE                                                           09:09:54           

2          SPECIALIZED-SHIMANO                                          10:01:28           

3          TREK SHIMANO AUSTRALIA GIRLS                           10:19:31

4          EM&EM                                                                   11:02:45           

Mixed

1          SRAM MERIDA AUS                                                  08:56:11           

2          PUSHYS SHIMANO CANNONDALE                              09:20:42           

3          MARATHONMTB.COM                                               09:38:37           

4          PIVOT SHIMANO                                                      09:38:39           

5          GIANT WOLLONGONG                                              09:54:01           

 

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Further information contact: Noel McMahon, IRONMAN Media Manager (Oceania) +61 455 091 476, noel.mcmahon@ironman.com

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