Stage 3 Port to Port – Briar Ridge – 50.7km

9am – The start was right on queue with the top elite riders still rolling around in front of the start line just moments before the official start. I placed myself on the front row in one of the two car tracks that had been warn in as it was and uphill start and onto a steep pinch of about 2oo meters in length with a 25% gradient. I had a great start and was in the top three and then Shaun Lewis attacks almost straight away, so I followed hoping that the group would let us get a bit of a gap for the first climb. We crested the top of the pinch and hurtled down at over 65km/h towards the lead car with the media inside. Shaun pushed the pace and tried to force a gap but the group didn’t want to let anyone go straight away. I started the first climb on the front knowing that it was only 2.5km long trying to push the pace and make sure that no riders would get back onto the lead group. This seemed to work and a very select group of ten riders were away.

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2.8km – There was a gate that we had to go around and someone in front made a mistake and had to unclip which left the other 4 riders behind having to stop and push as it was too steep to restart again. A gap opened straight away and the leaders weren’t waiting for anyone today. I Chased by myself desperately trying to bridge to the front group but I was unsuccessful and wasted a lot of energy with so much of the race to go. I looked back as I crested the climb to see a group of three riders coming so I eased and had a quick rest to where I joined their group and started to chase down the descent.

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9km – We reached the first road section and could see the lead group about 300 meters ahead so we all committed to chasing and started to create a rolling echelon (where a group of riders do turns at the front to keep a fast pace going). Jason Loundes was doing such long turns and going so fast that I was struggling to even hold his wheel and I was behind him. We edged our way closer and closer trying our hardest to get back to them, knowing that it was going to be much easier once we got there.

15km – The chase was over and we were on the back of the lead group. There was about 9 riders from various teams but dominated by Torq riders to help Chris Hamilton. Not much happened for a few kilometers and  riders ate  and drank , staying fuelled for the finale.

23km – The group were still all together and no one had put in an attack yet and we started to descend down a hill with water bars every 5o meters and from the first to the last rider everyone was having a bit of fun and whipping their bike out or sliding there rear wheel sideways spraying rocks everywhere and this reminded me of when I was younger and you go to the local dirt jumps and we would do ‘’jump Trains’’ of riders following each other and then back to the race it was.

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26km – We all of a sudden found our selves riding through some random bush without a track to follow, so everyone decided that this was not the race track and headed back to the intersection about 100 meters back. Everyone looked around for an arrow until someone had spotted one and we continued on. I just put the missed direction down to it maybe being where the old course was going to go, and due to the mud, the course was shortened by 10 km to make it a bit safer for competitors.

35km – Jason Loundes was back on the front again trying to make everyone hurt and I’m sure that was working, as riders were getting further apart and making more mistakes until he was completely spent and pulled off leaving it to Chris Hamilton to try and to do some damage to the lead of Andy Blair.

46km – It wasn’t long to go and I was staring to struggle with all the bog holes and sticky mud slowing me down. Everyone had the same conditions but  when you’re hurting all you can think about is chasing that wheel in front and making it to the finish line as fast as possible to end the pain.

48km – Chris Hamilton put in an attack and took Andy with him.This dropped a few riders with myself being one of them. I worked with Tom Goddard to make up some of the gap and then we came across Andy who seemed to have a mechanical issue from the mud. We checked if he was okay and continued on racing towards the finish. We entered the Richmond Railway Museum swapping turns at the front and as we were sprinting for the line Tom’s chain got jammed and he couldn’t pedal which meant I rolled across the line and took 5th place for the stage.

Thanks to the Guys at FLOW MTB for the photos of the stage. Check out their site here

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