The racing was close and the level of riding high at The Redback 2018. The 11th annual MTB Stage Race drew
mountain bikers from across Australia and after four thrilling days a sprint finish went the way of Melburnian rider Scott Thomas (23), who with five of the six stages under his belt, clinched The Redback crown.
Fellow Victorian Carmen de Rooze of Bendigo (35) went into the final stage with a comfortable lead but didn’t let her focus lapse, enjoying a fourth of six stage wins, and the overall Redback title.
All the action kicked off on Thursday, with over 120 riders racing across four massive days on the popular Alice Springs trail network.
Riders were treated to new tracks in the Tourism NT Stage 1 – 39kms along the old Hell Line track and upgraded West Side trails to a close finish at Yipirinya School. Thomson took the Stage in 1:44:31, and Kristen Gadsdon of Perth was first female in a tidy time of 1:58:09.
Local rider Luke Pankhurst won the Stage 2 Hill Climb in just 49 seconds for 300 gruelling metres from the bottom to the top of Anzac Hill, and Jennifer Davis (Canberra) also won with 1:10 on the clock.
Friday saw another stellar day in Alice Springs for Stages 3 and 4 with the individual time trial and electrifying night race over 22km of flowing singletrack.
It was close between one and two with Thomson and Jarrod Moroni neck and neck into the finish, but it was Thomson who took his fourth stage of four in 55:10. The women’s battle hotted up with Carmen de Rooze fastest in the morning’s Time Trial and an impressive finish in 1:03:31 to take both stages and move into first overall. Gadson slipped to 4th overall after suffering a puncture 8kms out from the finish.
An exciting finish in Saturday’s Ultimate Ride Bicycle Centre Stage 5 – a technical, fast and flowing 42km stage over some of the sweetest singletrack in the country saw Thomson (01:55:53), Justin Morris (01:55:53) and Jarrod Moroni (01:55:54) finishing within one second of one another.
“Yeah it was good honest, hard racing, the four of us were together pretty the whole way much till the end,” Thomson said.
“It was tough out there, pretty rocky – it keeps you very on your toes having to be so careful with your line choice and where you put your wheels. On Day 1, Stage 1 I had a little hole in the tyre probably the last couple of kms, but it managed to seal itself, and get me to the line. But other than that it was fine, I had brand new tyres on the week before, some heavy duty Specialised grids, so it was all good.
“The Day 2 the Golf Course morning time trial and night race were the highlight for me, it was pretty cool to be racing under lights, something different opposed to your standard stage racing; it was really good to have a night stage and a time trial in there.
“I didn’t necessarily expect to get the results I did, I knew I was going to be towards the front, I’d done a bit of training, but didn’t expect to do the five of the six. We’ll definitely be having a bit of a celebration tonight, it’s the first major win for me, so it gets the confidence up a bit, and I can move forward into some more races and hopefully keep some good results going.”
In the ladies De Rooze backed up her strong second day with another win finishing comfortably four minutes ahead of the competition (02:16:08).
“It’s been awesome. I’ve enjoyed every stage because of the amount of single track in the event – it’s been fantastic,” de Rooze said.
“I didn’t have any expectations coming in, I haven’t done many stage races, so I was a tactical in how I rode it. I was being mindful of mechanicals because I heard it was pretty brutal on the bike here, so I rode my own race and was hoping to be competitive so it turned out well.
“I’m stoked, I don’t think I could be much happier right now.”
Race Director John Jacoby from Rapid Ascent said he was extremely impressed with the quality of racing on show and proud to deliver the 11th edition of The Redback for riders from across the country to enjoy.
“We had beautiful conditions again today, and another sprint finish with four riders coming over the line together. We’ve had some really good racing the past four days, it’s been close at the front end, there’s been some fantastic racing in the masters and vintage categories, with really good depth in both the women’s and the men’s fields – it’s just been a really good level of riding which makes it great for the competitors.
“The riders have really enjoyed the trails, and Stage’s 5 and 6 are definitely still the riders’ favourite – plenty of smiles coming over the finish line today.
“Congratulations to all the placegetters, and well done to all riders. A special mention goes to Scott Thomson our overall winner who also takes home the Tavis Johannsen Memorial Trophy for his win in Stage 6 today. And 1st local female rider Emma Shearer who will be presented with the Paul Darvodelsky Memorial Medal which we have had struck in his honour.
“I’d also like to thank the Central Australian Rough Riders mountain bike club and National Parks for all their work over the years, tweaking the trails and continually making improvements for riders up here.”
First held in 2008 and every year since, the race formerly known as the Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro celebrated its 11thanniversary in 2018.
The event hosted over 120 competitors, from the recreational to the elite, road cyclists, runners, triathletes, adventure racers, ironmen, locals, first-timers and returning riders.
Designed to be fun and achievable for riders of all abilities; with those up the front in 2018 some of Australia’s best including Jarrod Moroni and former professional road cyclist Justin Morris, Ben Henderson and Kristen Gadson amongst many others.
All races started and finished within rolling distance of Alice Springs so riders have no need for a support crew or hire car and can stay in the one hotel for the entire event.
1. Scott Thomson 07:36:22
2. Jarrod Moroni 07:43:10
3. Oliver Hartung 07:51:47
4. Peter Casey 08:01:43
5. David Gradden 08:10:02
1. Carmen de Rooze 08:48:12
2. Sophie Marshall 09:11:51
3. Kristen Gadsdon 09:20:55
4. Elise Burriss 09:45:35
5. Carolyn Jackson 09:48:51