Cape to Cape 2013 Jenni King

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This year’s Cape to Cape event had pulled together the strongest field yet!

The men’s field included World Eliminator Champ Paul Van Der Ploeg, World XC Cup winner Dan Mc Connell, previous Cape to Cape winner Andy Blair and most of Australia’s top mtbikers.  Generally in the men’s race the winner of day 1 is also the winner of the whole event, so it was mighty important for these guys to be prepped and ready to go on this first stage!

The women’s race is mostly a lot less tactical than the men’s. As we are mixed in with the men, and not given a separate start, generally it is ‘make or break’ within the first few km’s of each stage as we bury ourselves to get onto a fast group. With the flatter course profiles and very few technical sections, the Cape to Cape suits a rider with some high horse-power and who can hold such power for long periods of time! Jenny Fay is un-doubtably number 1 in the Country when it comes to this style of racing. After winning the event last year, she was the definite favourite. She was going to have some strong competition though with local favourite Jo Bennett, in-form rider Tory Thomas, current Nat XC Champ Peta Mullens and young up and comer Holly Harris in the mix.  Oh, and of course I would be giving it my all! There were also several local names on the start list that could not be discounted. The week was set to involve some tough racing!

STAGE 1.

CAPE LEEUWIN TO HAMELIN BAY

Stage 1 was probably the toughest, with the hilliest profile for the week and highlighted by the leg-zapping sand dunes leading into a 2-3km stretch of beach.  Quite often, those who can ride the sand well and who can limit their time off the bike are also those that fair best on day 1. In the men’s category Andy Blair rode the sand in style and put in a handy gap which he held through till the end. In the women’s category, racing was quite tight. Jenny Fay went out hard but faded a little after misjudging the required hydration. Jo Bennett rode the sand nicely and made the pass on Jenny to take the win.  I managed to ride a fair portion of the beach section, despite under-estimating a few rather strong waves, and made a pass on Peta and Tory in the last 10km. I was real happy to finish day 1 in 3rd.

Mark Tupalski from team Torq put in a great ride to claim 4th place overall and Ben Forbes was sitting in 7th.  At age 15yrs Liam Jeffries was the youngest rider in this year’s CTC.  He put in a fine performance on this first stage to finish in 34th. Mark Fenner was a little disappointed to drop 30sec from arch rival Jon Gregg in the master’s category however was sitting comfortably in 2nd.

The race kicked off from Cape Leeuwin Light house

STAGE 2.

HAMELIN BAY TO XANADU WINERY

Stage 2 started off with another decent climb to spread the field a little, out of Hamelin bay.  Then we dove into some fast, flowy tracks including a nice little downhill built by ex-World downhill champ Sam Hill.  The sandy fire-roads caused havoc in the bunch with wheels being dropped and much side-ways action.  The last 20km or so of this stage included some fast fire-roads.  This stage was definitely well suited to those MTBikers who have also raced a little on the road!

Team Torq had a rather eventful day. Ben Forbes took a tumble into the bushes with a stick flicking into his wheel.  He then decided to ride straight past a red arrow and add on an extra few km’s before realising his mistake and having to back-track.  Needless to say, he lost some time on this stage!

Mark Tupalski put in “ride of the day” when he too crashed, but then picked himself up to ride his way back onto the main bunch.  What made the ride so incredible was the fact that his wheel was so buckled that the tyre was rubbing on the frame and by race finish one side of the tyre had been stripped of knobs!  Mark can obviously punch out some massive power!

I’m not sure if Team Torq was jinxed on day 2, but I too took a tumble when a large stick wedged itself into my rear wheel.  It took me a while to untangle myself, force the stick lose and then stop feeling sorry for myself.  Unlike Mark, I can’t say that I put in any heroic effort to get back up to the leading girls; however I managed to pass one other and finished off the day in 5th.

Liam put in another great ride to finish 65th while Mark Fenner took the win in the masters category and also took back some valuable seconds on Gregg.

Mark Fenner interviewed by World Eliminator Champ Paul Van Der Ploeg

REDBULL SHOOT-OUT

This is always my favourite Stage in the CTC.  The Shootout is open to the top 10 females and top 20 males racing and involves a Time Trial effort through the trails in the Pine Forest of Margarite River.  These trails are very well groomed and certainly a pleasure to ride! 

This year’s course was made up of 2 main descents with a nasty climb in b/w.  The climb was definitely long enough to hurt the already weary legs!

I felt like I put in quite a good effort with my run, gaining a little on young Holly Harris who had set off a minute ahead.  I was confident in my descending ability, but well aware that my climbing was not quite up there with the top girls at this point in time.

It turns out I was second place to Tory Thomas who had finished 2 seconds ahead. A little frustrating, however also quite pleasing to be so close to Tory who is definitely in form at the moment. Peta Mullens rode well to claim 3rd spot, not far behind.

The men’s event was quite spectacular with some close racing and World Eliminator Champ Paul Van Der Ploeg riding the finish jump in style.  Pity he didn’t quite nail the landing and had popped out his shoulder.  His race this year had come to an abrupt end, but rest assured he will be back on the bike soon enough.  Any Blair ended up taking the win, with Adrian Jackson 2nd. Despite his spectacular crash, Paul still managed to claim equal 3rd spot along with Torq up and comer Ben Forbes.

 

STAGE 3.

XANADU WINERY TO COLONIAL BREWERY

It was quite impressive to ride alongside the other 1200 competitors for the first 5km of this stage.  We rolled out from Xanadu Winery and along the main street of Margaret River, which was lined with cheering spectators, before the official race started just on the other side of town.

Unfortunately for me, I was involved in a pile-up of riders as soon as the course turned to dirt.  I was forced off the bike and had to straighten handlebars before remounting.  I was quite disappointed as the terrain of this stage suited my riding style a lot more and I had wanted to put in a big effort.  It seemed I would be playing catch up instead! 

I jammed a torq gel down early and kept my pace up as I aimed to pass as many people as possible so that I could enjoy the Pine Forest single trail that little bit more!  The trails of this stage are certainly a highlight of the race with a great mix of table-top jumps, smooth berms and some not so smooth pea gravel corners to keep the skills sharp.

By the halfway point I had managed to get past Peta and then got onto Jo Bennett’s wheel.  I gained a small gap on Jo through the last section of single trail, but once on the road section turned around to find her there once more. Jo is a mighty tough competitor! The last half of this stage I found super tough!  I think this may well have been because I was forced to ‘spend my bickies’ early on.  Jo rode away with a group of guys, who I couldn’t quite stay with.  I managed to regather myself enough to finish off in 4th place, so not a bad day in the saddle considering how it started.

Once again the Torq gang put in some solid rides, with all of us holding positions overall. 

Liam & Mark Kicking back after a hard day in the saddle

STAGE 4.

COLONIAL BREWERY TO DUNSBOROUGH COUNTRY CLUB

After 3 days of solid racing, Team Torq were well and truly in need of Dean’s ‘amp me up’ tunes on the way out to race start on day 4.  We decided to get dropped off in town and complete a good 30min w/up out to the brewery in the hope of spinning-out some of that waste product built in the legs.

The final stage was to be a fast one!  Generally speeds averaged on this stage are up around 30km/hour; certainly quick if you are on a mtb!  This year a little single-track had been thrown in to the middle section to break things up a bit and maybe tempt a few into attacking.  Andy Blair and jenny Fay had a comfortable lead in the men’s and women’s overall race, so all they needed to do was look after themselves and finish with the main bunch. 

The start was hard and there were a few dodgy manoeuvres within the bunch.  It wasn’t until we hit the first section of narrowed trail that I could breathe a sigh of relief and settle into a manageable pace.  My legs were definitely screaming as I tried to hold wheels through the long flat sections of sandy trail.  I was actually hoping for more hills so the pace would slow a little!  The whole stage pretty much went on this way for the 60km. The last 5km consisted of some tighter, twisty trail with some extra sketchy pea-gravel to negotiate. It was a great way to finish off the 4 days of racing!

Not too much was changed in overall placing following this final stage, with most of the top competitors in each category staying together.

Women’s Elite Podium

So, overall the Torq Team had a successful week of racing, lapping up the west coast sun and sharing more than a few laughs!  We finished off with some podium results with Mark Tupalski 4th overall male, myself 5th female and Mark Fenner 2nd in masters.  Results aside, the week proved to be a success in so many other ways. Dean and Gen sure know how to put together and run a great team and I’m certainly proud to be supporting such great people!

Thanks so much to all the Torq team’s sponsors for enabling us to race at such fantastic events;

Sram, Monza Imports, Schwalbe, Adidas, 4Shaw, Cube Bikes, Motion & of course Torq Nutrition

Men’s elite podium

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