Day seven of the Queenstown Bike Festival 2015 saw a competitive field of mountain bikers tackle a five stage, 13.75 kilometre timed race starting at Coronet Peak base lodge and ending on the valley floor around five hours later.
Atherton GT Factory Racing riders filled the top two places in the men’s open category with Martin Maes (BEL; 27:38) edging out Dan Atherton (ENG) by 17 seconds. Third was Team Wideopenmag’s Mark Scott (SCO; 28:07).
All three are now heading to Rotorua for the first round of this year’s Enduro World Series. They will be joined by others in today’s top quality field including Rémy Absalon, Pierre-Charles Georges (both FRA), Dan Wolfe (IRE) and Eddie Masters (NZL).
Swiss twins Caro and Anita Gehrig maintained their close sibling rivalry by finishing within a single second of each other. Anita took the women’s open win with a total time of 34:08 just ahead of Caro. Both will also compete in Rotorua.
Third was Queenstown’s own Erin Greene (35:32) backing up her team victory in last Saturday’s Vertigo Bikes Super D Enduro with a fine solo performance today.
In other categories Scott Rob, 17 from Queenstown won the junior men’s comp and Queenstown Mountain Bike Club member Jason Blackmore took the master men’s crown. Both were comfortably ahead of their nearest rivals.
Alan Milway, coach to Atherton GT Racing, said his riders enjoyed their day on Queenstown’s terrain.
“The tracks and scenery today were amazing. We’ve been based in Queenstown for two weeks which has been good preparation for next week’s Enduro World Series event,” he said.
From Coronet Peak base lodge, riders rode untimed to the summit from where stage one took them down the XC track. They then travelled with the timer off to the start of stage two (Rude Rock, Pack Track and Sack and onto Skippers) and each subsequent stage (Greengates Forest Trail, Zoot Trail and down the private-access Deer Lane) stopping to take in both nutrition and the view before dropping in again.
Queenstown Bike Festival director Geoff Hunt said it had been a great event, very much in the festival spirit.
“It was super competitive out there today. Some of the stage times were just stunning and even the big names were saying how challenging the course was. As always there was a great atmosphere and camaraderie between the riders whether they race on the world stage or just for fun,” he said.
“Huge thanks to Queenstown Mountain Bike Club for maintaining such awesome trails that can challenge even the world’s best.”
Finishers gathered at Cavells Café and Bar by the Shotover River for a relaxed prize giving and a post-race sausage sizzle and $4,000 worth of prizes courtesy of Torpedo7.
The 2015 Queenstown Bike Festival continues tomorrow (Saturday) with one of its showpiece events, the Veolia Slopestyle. Some of the best freeriders around show off their skills on a world-class course built on central Queenstown’s Ballarat Street car park. Practice for this FMB World Tour event takes place from midday with finals under floodlights from 6pm. Entry $5 ($10 for families) on the gate.
More information and results are available on the Queenstown Bike Festival’s website at www.queenstownbikefestival.com. Video edits are available to watch on the festival’s YouTube channel.