The Australian summer of racing has kicked off with Round 1 of the Victorian Enduro Tour, held on the trails of Nail Can Hill, Albury, Nov 11-12. The network itself has been handmade over the last 15 years and has become a popular stop for it's rocky and relentless technical terrain. It does lack elevation and has a restriction on how many kilometres of trail are allowed to exist in the reserve, so the organisers at AWMTB (Albury/Wodonga Mountain Bikers) made the clever choice of holding the event over two race days. It gave them the flexibility to maximise the descents by linking the same trails used on Day 1 (Stages 1,2 and 3) to create different stages on Day 2 (Stages 4 and 5).
There were 150 athletes lined up to battle the heat and dust with a few big names making the trip. Former World Champ Paul Van Der Ploeg, Shannon Hewetson, Murray Stephens and Anthony Elliot travelling in from every direction to take on the locals Darcy Wilkinson and Elliot Reid in the Elite Men category. The Elite Women Category was a battle of backgrounds; Julia 'Indi" Boer has a prestigious DH career and Kathryn McInerney is a current World Cup XCO racer. It was shaping up to be a close battle in both categories!Day One:
Shuttles had to be pre-booked for practice laps, many opted to ride up to see what was in store for racing.
The lads waiting for the next shuttle.
The climb up to the top was short and steep, a little too steep for the DH crew.
But they rode it with the best style all weekend, Jay Cottrell leading the Yarra Valley boys.
Paul Van Der Ploeg scopes out Stage 1 in practice.
Many riders hiked back up to find better lines through this rock garden on Stage 2.
Practice went for 4 hours before riders returned to the pits to compare video lines.
Also to enjoy the quality homemade food on offer.
Oskar White was clearing looking forward to the liaison climbs.
Activating the timing chips.
All racers rode (or walked) to the top of Nail Can Hill to begin racing after lunch.
Jordan Powell started strong on Day 1 but would slide back to 6th overall.
Flat Tyres were common on the rocky trails, Darcy helps Jonah Cosgriff after Stage 1.
Did he ride out of this or not?
Kathryn McInerney's first Enduro race (racing her XCO World Champs bike).
Jack Hewish rode strong to take the overnight lead in the U19s.
Shannon Hewetson flying down Stage 2.
Indi making light work of this double drop on Stage 3.
Paul Van Der Ploeg would come unstuck on Stage 2 with a big crash, he opted to skip the rest of the race, saying he got "Nailed by Nail Can."
Elliot Reid would slide into 3rd place after the first day of racing
Darcy Wilkinson took a clean sweep of all 3 stages on Day 1.
Many a broken bike was serviced by the local on-site bike store Bike Culture before days end.
The Pits were busy on the morning of Day 2.
The next generation.
Local Sponsored juniors practicing Stage 4.
Some Yarra Valley Boys bombing down Stage 4.
Elise Empty railing one of the turns which featured in Stages 3 and 5.
Anthony Elliot was back in 6th place after Day 1, would he be able to claw back time on Day 2.
One final chill for overnight leaders Kathryn and Darcy before Stage 4 and 5.
The big push back to the top.
Jesse O'Brien may not have stood on the podium, but I think he may in the future, Superman style
There are some interesting artefacts around Nail Can, Stage 4.
Ayla Armitage rode so well she would have placed 3rd in Elite. She settled for 1st in U15 women, the future is bright.
Jay Cottrell had all the style on the weekend but couldn't match the pace of Jack Hewish in U19s.
Jack Hewish was hauling for the overall win in U19s.
Pinned down the last stage of the weekend!
Checking the results.
Ella Gould took the win in the U19 Women category
Indi took one stage win but couldn't match Kathryn today. A solid 2nd place overall
Kathryn McInerney rode solid all weekend but would absolutely crush the last stage by nearly 30 seconds taking the overall win.
Matt Stephens rode into a respectable 7th place after a solid final stage
Elliot Reid checking the timing board to see if he held on to his overnight 3rd place
Shannon Hewetson rode consistently but was off the pace and had to settle for 4th overall.
Anthony Elliot would ride much better on Day 2 leaping from 6th overnight to a podium placed 3rd overall
Murray Stephens thought he could claw back time on Darcy on Stage 5 but couldn't match the pace of the local. A solid 2nd place overall just 22 seconds back
But it was Darcy who won every stage on the weekend to win the first round of the Vic Enduro Series
Presentation ceremony steeze with the boys.
Elite Women Podium. 1st: Kathryn McInerney, 2nd: Julia 'Indi' Boer, 3rd: Tory Bilney.
Elite Men Podium. 1st: Darcy Wilkinson, 2nd: Murray Stephens, 3rd: Anthony Elliot.
Today's Fastest Bike
After the dust had settled it was local knowledge that triumphed here at Round 1 of the Victorian Enduro Tour. Congratulations to Darcy and Kathryn! It was a fantastic start to the series thanks to all of the volunteers and sponsors and AWMTB for holding an awesome event. Round 2 takes place in the mountain bike Mecca of Mount Beauty on January 20-21, 2018. I hope to see you there, Be sure to check out the series website for further details and entries: http://www.facebook.com/VictorianGravityEnduroTour/
Round 2 will be at Mount Beauty, Jan 20-21. See you there