SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVILS BUT PORT TO PORT ROLLS ON
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVILS BUT PORT TO PORT ROLLS ON
After a great two days in the saddle that saw the Tassie Devils holding more than two minute lead in the Port to Port General Classification, the shock, early morning withdrawal of team captain Ben Bradley due to illness, provided another element of drama to the already action packed event.
Although now out of contention, Bradley’s team mate Alex Lack decided to show the “Spirit of Tasmania” in Stage Three, continuing on with a stunning solo ride that had him mixing it with the leaders all morning.
“It definitely wasn’t the way we wanted to go into stage three, we had a bit of bad luck overnight,” Alex said. “Ben went pretty hard on yesterday, so I think he had a bit of dehydration and he didn’t really sleep much last night. It was a hard decision but probably the best decision to make. I am continuing to race although there is no pay off for any efforts and of course no result on the General Classification. Of course, I didn’t want to get in the way, or impact the race for the GC but I was able to get some racing in and still make the most of it,” he said.
With the Tassie Devils out of the contention the GC tightened considerably and stage three became a vital piece in the Port to Port puzzle. While the GIANT Australia Off-Road Team (Johnston/Odams) immediately resumed favouritism, there was work to be done to get the stage win and vital time going into the final day.
“It was a really sad way for the Tassie guys to go out because they are both riding very well and we had our work cut out to get over them. But we had a plan for this stage and either way we were going to do our best and we rode awesome up that climb. That was the biggest goal for the race. Mount Faulk Road was a major priority for us and we did it perfectly, so we are stoked with that and the stage win.”
“There was heaps going on out there and we were really struggling towards the end of the stage but overall we are happy with the position we are in. We are most comfortable hitting the single track as hard as we can and neutralising any attacks, so tomorrow we have to be careful, but not too careful. We still have to ride hard,” Johnston said.
Odams said that even before he started the event ‘the hill’ was what he was fearing the most.
“I think the little bit of extra age Trekky and I have has definitely helped us get a tactic and ride to it. Today I decided to sit up and ride as efficiently as I possibly could through the single track and keep the heart rate low and power low and then just chew the stem off my bike on that climb. Brendan paced me really well and I was starting to feel better towards the end and I wanted to go but he said, ‘Chill out you will need it later on’. It worked out perfectly for us and he waved me past on the technical descent part and we got a gap and it was happy days. I was actually surprised how much gap we got and it helped us along the flat bits. Good times, but one day to go,” he said
The Nankervis brothers were second place on the dirt/road in stage three, once again highlighting the form they brought to Port to Port this year.
“It is very hard when you are completely out of the running win the GC, so it was all about putting it too them and trying to get a stage win. We were mindful of not meddling with GC teams and getting in the way but the last two days have shown that we had done the work and were in good form, despite the mechanicals. So that is satisfying at least.”
“There is a lot of single track to come and it is probably not as taxing as this stage so I guess we will have to pick our moments if we are to have one crack left to win a stage. Lucky last, a stage win is the plan but it is probably the plan of a lot of people,” Tas said.
The women’s teams have been dominated by the Kiwis Samara Sheppard and Kate McIlroy and stage three was no different. It was a master class and a mentoring session in one, as the experienced Sheppard and the highly talented McIlroy continued to evolve into a formidable team.
McIlroy has been one of New Zealand’s most talented athletes for many years, initially as a Commonwealth Games representative in steeplechase, then as a triathlete on the ITU circuit, before turning to road cycling and finally mountain biking.
“It was another good day and how can you not have fun,” Kate said. “It is wicked riding and it is the mixture of everything which keeps it interesting. This is probably the most amount of mixed trail riding I have done, so I am learning as I go. As the day’s progress we are learning each other’s strengths. Samara smoked it through the single trail and I just tried to hold on. I try and hold a steady pace up the hills and then bomb the descents as much as we can.”
“I have done a few stage races on the road so I know how it feels in the last days but I think the MTB takes it out of you because your whole body is involved. I woke up this morning very ordinary and my legs were asking, ‘What are we in for today? Once you get going you feel okay and you ride yourself into it.”
“I could never have predicted my career because was always was going to be a runner. The mixture of sports I have done hasn’t completely been by choice because my body was packing it up a little bit. My body was struggling with running training and I got to a point where I had too many injuries and it was getting too hard to piece a good performance together.”
“I started working in the corporate world and picked up cycling on the side to keep myself sane because I loved competing and it progressed from there. I love cycling and I am learning mountain biking and I am thankful that I can compete at a high level now. It would be great to come away with a win at Port to Port and maybe have a crack at the rest of the Epic Series. We will see,” she said.
The ever-smiling Harris siblings continued on their merry way in the Mixed Teams picking up their third stage win and are set for another strong result tomorrow.
“Michael told me if I started like I did yesterday he was going to ditch me,” Holly laughed. “So I ensured we got a better start and we love Awaba, so we cruised through there. Climbing is our strength so when we got to the hill we gave it everything and Michael was an incredible partner. I have been looking forward to this and if we were coming first or last it is unreal to be riding with my younger brother.”
“We are having so much fun,” Michael agreed. “Awaba at the start, that was awesome. I was following Holly and she was showing me all the good lines. After that, we gassed the climb and then we followed some of the master teams on the descent. It was amazing.”
Results – Men Stage Three
1 GIANT AUSTRALIA OFF-ROAD TEAM 02:16:25
2 NANKERVIS CUP 02:16:44
3 TREK SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 02:17:51
4 WARD BROS 02:19:24
5 REECE & REESY - DOUBLE TROUBLE 02:21:28
1 GIANT AUSTRALIA OFF-ROAD TEAM 06:18:27
2 TREK SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 06:23:16
3 WARD BROS 06:27:14
4 REECE & REESY - DOUBLE TROUBLE 06:36:05
5 GIANT AUSTRALIA TEAM 06:42:34
1 SAM N KATE 07:14:38
2 SPECIALIZED-SHIMANO 07:53:22
3 TREK SHIMANO AUSTRALIA GIRLS 08:06:36
4 EM&EM 08:42:47
1 SRAM MERIDA AUS 07:01:36
2 PUSHYS SHIMANO CANNONDALE 07:19:32
3 MARATHONMTB.COM 07:35:27
4 DEEKATH EXPRESSO 07:35:31
5 PIVOT SHIMANO 07:37:03
Racing continues tomorrow with stage 4 – Glenrock/Newcastle Sunday 26 May 2019
Distance - 40km, total climbing - 540m
Start – 8am Belmont Golf Club, Marks Point Belmont
Finish - Dixon Park (overlooking Merewether Beach), Newcastle
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Further information contact: Noel McMahon, IRONMAN Media Manager (Oceania) +61 455 091 476, email@example.com