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Central Australian Bike Challenge - NE
Alice Springs, NT, March 12-18, 2005
Flemish duo return to take titles
By Paul Darvodelsky
Jaap Viergever (Red Bull) and Katrin van der Spiegel took out the men's and women's open classes in the Central Australian Bike Challenge (CABC). Both returned from previous attempts at the race.
In the inaugural event, Viergever lost over 30 minutes on one stage due to flats from using super light weight tyres in the rough central Australian terrain. This year he prepared his bike specifically and dominated the event, winning 5 out of the 6 stages, suffering only one flat in over 250 km of desert riding. Whilst Viergever dominated, eventually winning by 15 minutes overall, each stage was closely fought. Alex Randall (Melbourne Bicycle Centre) was a clear second taking about 10 minutes from David Wood of Cairns.
In the women's class the lead see-sawed each day between Sydney based Van der Spiegel and Kim Kelleher from Cairns. In the end barely 2 minutes separated the pair after 14 hours of riding. Most days saw the two finishing in sight of each other. Darwin based Melissa Curry, who was second in the inaugural CABC came third in the women's class.
In its third year the CABC served up its best trails to 100 riders from all around Australia, Europe and Asia. Extensive work over the summer to most of the 6 stages meant that a lot more flowing, single track was used, to the delight of all competitors.
After a dry summer, conditions were ideal, if not a little sandier than last year. Each stage started and finished within riding distance of the centre of town. Racing started at 6.30 am to miss the worst of the day's heat. This was welcome in the first two stages where temperatures hit the 40 degree mark. For the remaining stages, the weather was mild and pleasant for the riders.
Prologue - March 12: NT Major Events Miss-and-out circuit, 25km
A hot Friday afternoon saw the prologue, a grassy 400 metre circuit around a park on the edge of the dry Todd River bed. Each lap the last 3 riders were removed from the race until the final sprint. The winners received a 1 minute time bonus to take into first stage. Very tight racing saw narrow but seemingly prophetic wins by Viergever and Van der Spiegel.
Stage 1 - March 13: Chambers Engineering Ridge Trail, Asprint Hill KOM, 40km
With a cash prize for the first rider to the top of the "biggest cutting along the Alice to Darwin railway" it was a very fast start from the Alice Springs velodrome. Viergever continued to show his dominance from the day before but only narrowly won the day in a sprint finish from David Wood from Queensland and Australian mountain bike orienteering representative, Alex Randall, only seconds behind in third place.
The race started on smooth fire trail along the railway and then turned onto tough 4WD and single tracks. Riders who started too hard faded in the later sections of the 38 km stage, which included much picturesque riding along the local ridges giving great views of the local ranges. Curry won the day narrowly from Van der Spiegel and Kelleher, with Van der Spiegel paying the price for not watching the track closely and losing time by wrapping some fencing wire around her cassette.
Stage 2 - March 14: Rhodes Contracting Big One, 93km
This was the stage that everyone either feared or looked forward to - 93 km of largely flat riding from the Ross River station back into Alice Springs. Much of the stage is on dirt roads and tactics were crucial to avoid losing big time but conserve energy for the rest of the race. Viergever's tactics from the start were clear - drop the pack and ride solo for the rest of the race in a strong display of riding for 3.20 in the searing heat. Randall's overall fitness netted him second place around 12 minutes behind, with Western Australian rider Ian Klasens (Stirling Cycles) taking third place, in his second attempt at the CABC.
Van der Spiegel and Kelleher rode most of the way together to finish only 26 seconds apart, Van der Spiegel taking the stage. Curry was again third, but lost about 20 minutes on the lead, a margin which proved too big to catch up.
Stage 3 - March 15: Aurora Resorts Cross Country, 48km
By contrast, stage 3 was a cross country riders delight. Around 40 km of flowing single track and single line fire trails! After the heat of stage 2, the mild conditions were a delight for riders. In the men's Viergever won again, this time by under one minute from Wood. Randall again took third, another minute back.
In the women's race it was Kelleher's turn to take the stage victory followed closely by Van der Spiegel and Curry.
Stage 4 - March 16: Gorey and Cole Drillers Track, 50km
Stage 4 saw yet again a different style of riding. Starting at Alice Springs golf course and heading out onto flowing single tracks in the nearby hills the course then went onto flat, flowing fire trail and single track for 50 km before returning to a finish back on the golf course. Sections of soft sand taxed the legs and skills of all riders to keep riding smoothly and avoid walking. Again with thankfully mild conditions Viergever narrowly out sprinted Randall for first place with Wood only 20 seconds behind.
Kelleher again won the women's race by only 6 seconds from Van der Spiegel and Curry again in third. At this stage Van der Spiegel's lead had built to a slim 2.42 over Kelleher, with Curry now out of contention for the general classification another 29 minutes back.
Stage 5 - March 17: Top Gear Car and 4WD Centre Route, 36km
Starting and finishing with a view on the top of Anzac Hill in town, this stage proved to be one of the most furious. A relatively short 25 km, taking in fire trail, sealed road and single track used at the master's games last year, this was the most popular stage with riders. After 5 hard days of racing this stage showed the riders with speed and good bike skills. Leading in the men was Wood by 26 seconds from Viergever in a very snappy 56 minutes. Third place went to Randall in a sprint finish with Wes Reibel from Queensland.
The women's race for the GC had everyone watching closely to see if Kelleher could drag back time from Van der Spiegel. But it was Curry who came into view first, about half a minute clear of Kelleher in second and Van der Spiegel in third. The race for first would now be determined in the final stage time trial.
Stage 6 - March 18: Neata Glass Time Trial, 17km
Starting at Flynn's grave is one of Australia's most beautiful bike paths. The 18 km path winds through low hills with views of the MacDonnell Ranges all the way to the spectacular Simpson's Gap and the end of the CABC. Viergever must have been in a hurry to get to his next race - the Cape Town Epic - and covered the course in a scorching average of 41 kmh. Not bad on a mountain bike on a winding bike path! Local Chris Ravenhall pulled out a big effort to take second and hold onto fifth place in the GC. Randall again showed his consistency by placing third.
It was the women's race which was most closely fought, Kelleher winning yet another stage, but only by 6 seconds from Curry and 9 seconds from Van der Spiegel. It was not enough to change the GC placings.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Paul Darvodelsky
Images by www.movingpictures.com.au
Open Men 1 Jaap Viergever 10.40.20 2 Alex Randall 16.14 3 David Wood 26.40 4 Ian Klasens 40.24 5 Chris Ravenhall 48.35 6 Wesley Reibel 49.02 7 David Clark 1.00.37 8 Paul Darvodelsky 1.04.46 9 Kel Boers 1.13.23 10 Elliot Long 1.23.04 11 Keith MacQueen 1.27.31 12 Brett Smith 1.28.06 13 Straun Lamont 1.46.41 14 Jamie Burton 1.54.10 15 Guenter Hauber-Davidson 1.57.59 16 Adam Fletcher 2.18.00 17 Aaron Caden 2.18.14 18 Richard Mountstephens 2.40.08 19 Gordon Atkinson 2.56.36 20 Mark Mannering 3.37.05 21 Malcolm Neville 3.56.10 22 Paul Guerin 4.20.18 23 Adrian Trudgeon 4.34.27 24 Michael Moore 5.18.34 25 Ron Whitehead 5.27.50 26 Peter Svara 5.41.51 27 Andrew Koop 5.51.27 28 Peter Lacoste 6.10.28 29 Thomas Blum 6.21.10 30 Bruce McEllister 6.36.35 31 Justin Villard 7.11.20 32 Michael Poolier 7.11.27 33 Brad Slade 7.39.38 34 Alex McNee 9.10.13 Open Women 1 Katrin Van der Spiegel 14.01.16 2 Kim Kelleher 2.20 3 Melissa Curry 31.05 4 Nicole James 1.55.43 5 Nicole Gardner 5.08.31 Veteran Men 1 Kym Hansen 13.08.10 2 Mark Wallace 45.24 3 Graant Benett 1.12.40 4 Steve Bryan 1.14.20 5 Steve Wyatt 1.31.27 6 Adam Korab 2.10.38 7 John Nutter 2.11.58 8 Dave Wells 3.30.31 9 Mark Meyers 4.15.56 10 Jeff Hays 5.00.42 11 Jungle Batemen 6.04.13 12 Peter Haarsma 6.27.13 13 Lawrie Nicholas 6.41.50 Veteran Women 1 Diane Owens 17.13.36