Willett wins stage three as Blair makes it two straight and moves into GC
Jodie Willett claws back five seconds on overall women’s leader, while Andy Blair wins second stage in a row to take a tight lead into final day of racing…
SNOWY MOUNTAINS, NSW—Former Irish national champion Jenny Fay may be in the driver’s seat for the overall win, but Jodie Willett (Liv Cycling) is not going away. The Queenslander clawed back five seconds after a thrilling 24-kilometre descent from Thredbo to Lake Crackenback on stage 3 of the inaugural Snowy Mountain Bike Festival on Saturday, while Andy Blair (Swell Specialized) won two straight to take the general classification away from fellow Canberran Mark Tupalski (Torq Australia).
Willett took the win in 1:01:09.89 just ahead of Fay, and more than six minutes ahead of Switzerland’s Renata Bucher (1:07:50.42).
“I tried to get a gap on Jenny and took a few risks, but just really enjoyed the trail,” said Willett. “She’s very familiar with the trail so it was just really hard to get away.
“So now it’s more about defending second place tomorrow,” she added. “But you never give up in mountain biking as you never know what can happen.”
Fay, who won the first two stages, which included a 5.5km time trial and a 21.1km uphill stage earlier in the day, remains in the overall lead ahead of Willett by 1:45 heading into the fourth and final stage Sunday – a 75km cross-country marathon.
“I lost a small amount of time on the downhill, but not enough that was worth the risk in defending,” said Fay. “I executed my plan to conserve energy so that I may have enough in the tank to get away tomorrow and really cement my hold on GC.
“But at the moment, I’m spent and won’t have any trouble sleeping tonight.”
For Blair, who like his new bride Fay, executed his pre-stage race plan flawlessly.
“It pretty much panned out like I hoped,” said Blair. “I knew to get time on that stage I need to be on the front so I made sure I went into the single track first and tried to control the race.
“It was really just about backing myself and believing I had the ability to drop those guys, because when you are on the front it’s easy to get paranoid that you are doing too much work, and they got it a bit easier so I tried to be relentless and keep telling myself they are hurting as much as I was.”
Blair finished the stage with a recorded time of 53:11.80, 40 seconds ahead of fellow Canberran Dylan Cooper, who suffered a crash before recovering to claim second, with Kyle Ward taking third.
“I hadn’t managed to get rid of Kyle Ward coming into the resort and thought it was going to come down to a sprint, but I really needed to look for time over [Tupalski] so I was prepared to tow Kyle to the line and just gave up trying to drop him and started to ride for time,” said Blair. “Just in this last section of single track I got a gap over Kyle and then was able to do all the things I needed to do to build a bigger lead.”
Blair, who now leads Tupalski by 1:58, still believes the 24-year-old is his biggest threat for the overall win.
“He is definitely the strongest guy I see out of the rivals,” said Blair. “He’s probably the guy I’m watching the most. I think with his road training he’s done this year and his recent base training may have hurt him on his top end, but it may really help him in a stage race.
“Plus, if anyone knows how strong he is it’s me,” Blair concluded. “Last year I took the jersey off him at Cape to Cape last year and he took it right back from me the very next day.”
The fourth and final stage concludes on Sunday with a 75km cross-country marathon (XCM).
About The Snowies MTB Stage Race:
The Snowies Mountain Bike Festival brings you some of the very best riding found anywhere in Australia. Based in the heart of Australia’s iconic Snowy Mountains, riders wil be challenged with 4 diverse stages that will test speed, endurance, stamina and technical skills. Tackle all 4 stages as a solo or as a team of 2 or 3, OR choose to do the 75k marathon or 30k XC only in this ‘not to be missed’ Mountain Bike Experience. For more information visit the Snowies MTB Festival HERE
In2Adventure are Asia-Pacific’s premier adventure event specialists. With a full calendar of national events scheduled throughout Australia, including adventure races, cross triathlon, XC Mountain Bike, trail runs and corporate events, In2Adventure fully embraces all things ‘off road’ and ‘off the beaten track’ and offers a unique, individual experience for all ages and skill levels. For more information visit In2Adventure HERE
Upcoming Events (2014/15):
- TreX Cross Triathlon Back 2 Back – Sunshine Coast, 17/18 Jan 2015
- Snowies MTB Stage Race – Snowy Mountains, NSW, 21/22 February 2015
- Oceania Cross Triathlon Championships – Snowy Mountains, NSW, 28 Feb-1 March 2015
- TreX Cross Triathlon Championships – Sunshine Coast, QLD, 2/3 May 2015
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