Ivory, Haris and Hunter Valley All Winners on Day One

24 May 2018

The Hunter Valley turned on a glorious day for the opening stage of the Port to Port MTB, with perfect race conditions and stunning trails showcasing the enormous depth of MTB talent assembled at Audrey Wilkinson Winery.

After almost two hours of racing, it was local rider Cameron Ivory who narrowly took the honours in the open men’s category, holding off Michael Potter, Tas Nankervis and defending champion Brendan Johnston in a frantic uphill sprint for the line.

Armidale rider Holly Harris showed that she is clearly the inform rider in the open women’s category, enjoying the brutal climbs and relishing the single tracks to build a handy five minute buffer going into the Killingworth, Lake Macquarie stage two tomorrow.

Ivory has been the inform rider of 2018 but day one of the fifth anniversary Port to Port MTB proved that every second is going to be vital and mistakes will be costly.  

“That was a tough day, it was a bit cold this morning so I wasn’t feeling that good going into the big climb. Tas Nankervis and Michael Potter drove it hard and I made it three quarters of the way with them but had to ease up because was well into the red and Brendan Johnston had already dropped off by then. Thankfully I caught the front two on the single track and tried to make a move later on.”

“Despite being a local that was the first time I had done those trails. The style of trail is like the old motor cycle trails, with big deep ruts in the corners, so it is a similar style to what I grew up on. You are coming in really hot and loose and committing to those washed out loose gravelly ruts and hoping they take you through the corner. I made bit of a gap on these guys but on the long road home they clawed me back.”

“With about 5km to go the top four were all back together which made it a bit exciting. I lead out for the last few kilometres but I wasn’t feeling it in the legs, so I thought if I just picked up the pace and stop these guys from attacking then I should be in for a shot. I was pretty nervous coming into the finish but I backed myself in the short uphill sprint and it paid off.”

“The top four are within a few seconds, and the top six are within about 30 seconds so it is going to be an exciting week and anything can happen. I will try and hang onto this small lead and the jersey that I have and look forward to tomorrow’s racing and the short course on the Newcastle foreshore tomorrow evening where hopefully I can get a time bonus on them. It is close, tight racing and great for the spectators because anything can happen,” Ivory said.

Defending champion Brendan Johnston didn’t have the day that he wanted but he dug deep, is only seconds off the lead and remarkably still in contention.

“It was tough and on the first longer climb I wasn’t feeling comfortable and lost contact with the front group. Normally I would be quite good on that sort of terrain, an open fire road climb, but for some reason I wasn’t on it. I saw Tas and Michael Potter get away from Cam, so I knew he was struggling as well. I got onto his wheel over the top of the climb into the single track and then the gap opened up again.”

“I was thinking my Port to Port overall was over but I just kept on working away and with 20km to go I managed to see the guys in the distance, so on the way back down the hill I let it all go because I knew I needed to be up with Cam, Michael and Tas to have any chance in the overall. That is where the race is going to come from over the next few days, so I just wanted to be there and was stoked to roll in with them.”

“I did feel better in the second half of the race so my goal was to finish with as little time gap as possible. It is four days of racing and things can change dramatically. I do enjoy backing up and fair quite well in that situation, so I will just draw on past Port to Ports and Cape to Cape and hope the legs come good,” Johnston said.

Fresh from road racing in China, Holly Harris came to Port to Port a touch tired, but she quickly cleaned out the cobwebs, dominating from the gun, smashing the climbs, to set herself up for the tough three stages of racing that remain and her biggest challenge…to beat her father, David.

“The scenery was glorious and the hot air balloons were awesome. I loved the single track, it was so loose and crazy and there were some climbs to really separate the packs. I felt really comfortable on the climbs but a bit sketchy on the downhills and broke a spoke ten km from home, so I just nursed it, played it safe and was easy on the descents.”

“I have just come back from China and I am a bit tired, so I didn’t know how the legs would pull up. But they seem to be pretty good out there. I didn’t expect the buffer that I have but I didn’t see many of the girls out there at all. I am just stoked with how I raced. I definitely can’t complain.”

Holly said she didn’t have any expectations coming into Port to Port, other than a need to beat her father David who is also competing.

“Dad is the real competition this week. My biggest goal was to beat him and I have put a couple of minutes into him so I am happy. I am one up but he seems to have better endurance than me so it will be interesting to see how the week goes,’ Holly said.

Men’s Open Results Day One

1          Cameron IVORY (#2)                 01:56:03            Open  (1)          Male  (1)           01:56:03                       

2          Michael POTTER (#44)              01:56:03            Open  (2)          Male  (2)           01:56:03                       

3          Tasman NANKERVIS (#4)          01:56:06            Open  (3)          Male  (3)           01:56:06                       

4          Brendan JOHNSTON (#1)          01:56:09            Open  (4)          Male  (4)           01:56:09                       

5          Callum CARSON (#34)              01:57:05            Open  (5)          Male  (5)           01:57:05

Women’s Results Day One

1          Holly HARRIS (#67)                   02:15:43            Open  (1)          Female  (1)       02:15:43                        \

2          Jessica SIMPSON (#63)             02:21:21            Open  (2)          Female  (2)       02:21:21                       

3          Kathryn MCINERNEY (#61)        02:24:07            Open  (3)          Female  (3)       02:24:07                       

4          Sarah TUCKNOTT (#68)            02:26:28            Open  (4)          Female  (4)       02:26:28                       

5          Penny SLATER (#64)                 02:27:30            Open  (5)          Female  (5)       02:27:30