Posted by on 12/6/99
The Inaugural Yass - Wee Jasper Mountain Tour concluded today with a final Mountain Bike Cross Country endurance stage.
Today's stage was by far the most testing and strenuous of all the stages held so-far. It was held in very hot conditions and on a very technical course which saw most of the riders choosing to run some sections of the course rather than riding and risking getting a puncture.
The Elite Women began their race with a 3 minute difference between Hanneke Geysen in first place (after three stages) and Dellys Franke, in second place. After 4 laps (20km) Geysen had opened up a one and a half minute gap over Franke which cemented her lead in the event. Geysen went on to win the overall event with a time of 3h 22m 34.9s, with Franke in second place (4 and a half minutes behind) and local rider Kelly Robinson in a distant third place (15 minutes behind 1st place).
The Elite Men field started their 7 laps in searing heat but nevertheless returned lap times among the fastest of the day. Only 1 minute separated Paul Rowney in first place (after 3 stages) and Rob Woods in second place. Craig Gordon (lying only 29 seconds behind Woods after 3 stages) and Rowney, both AIS scholarship holders and members of the AOP athlete program, rode wheel to wheel for the first 6 laps. Only in the 7th lap did Rowney make his break and take the lead when nearing the finish to win the stage by just 1 second. Woods, suffering from the rigours of the previous day's racing could only manage third place in the Cross Country stage, although that was enough for him to also take out third place in the general classification.
The overall general classification positions and the Yass - Wee Jasper Mountain Tour was won by Rowney with a time of 3h 41m 28.2s with Gordon a close 1m 45s behind, followed by Woods 4m 18s further back in the field.
Overall, the concept of stage racing for Mountain Bikes was very well recieved by the competitors and plans are already underway for the second event late in 2000.
In the lead up to next weeks Oceania Championship Mountain Bike event on the Olympic course at Fairfield, both Geysen and Franke and Rowney and Gordon must be considered event favorites. This event, the final Olympic qualifying event for Mountain Bike, will quite possibly award Australia with another berth in the Olympic Mountain Bike event for the Men. Australia has already qualified two Female riders for the Olympics.
Full results available: http://www.castech.com.au and the MBTA site http://members.optusnet.com.au/~mtba/
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