Australia's biggest mountain bike event kick
At the end of the 2016 Cape to Cape, there was word that 2017 would be something special. We've all seen the announcements through the year but now, the race is here. 4 special stages out of Margaret River on some of the finest singletrack we get to race on in Australia.
2000 people make an impact on any place, but 2000 mountain bikers, plus plenty more family and friends, have turned Margaret River into the throbbing heart of Australian mountain biking for the next four days.
Conversations float on the breeze of trails, triumphs in racing, group set choices - and of course tyre pressure.
What can't be ignored is how many of Australia's best riders are here, not to just put on a show, but to race for one of the most coveted victories in Australian mountain biking. At the start of the race past victors lined up at the front, and it read like a who's who in Australian mountain biking.
With the flag dropping, the respect for those at the front, lined up as past winners, was gone. With wave starts for each stage this year, the start wave was for elite riders and those with strong results in previous years. And the urgency to get to the front as we rolled out of Xanadu wines was obvious.
With fast corners and flat terrain it took a lot of effort for splits to occur, but the race favourites were showing themselves.
The race carved through back roads and forest trails before entering sections of singletrack both familiar and new. It wasn't until the closing kilometres that Brendan Johnston could make an attack stick, soloing to the line ahead of Tasman Nankervis and Kyle Ward.
In the women's race, Samara Sheppard was clear from early on, but Peta Mullens and Renata Bucher were in a close battle behind all day, and Peta took 2nd place.
1. Samara Sheppard - 02:33:03
2. Peta Mullens - 02:34:29
3. Renata Bucher - 02:34:33
4. Jessica Simpson - 02:43:25
5. Kathryn McInerney - 02:45:26
1. Brendan Johnston - 02:16:17
2. Tasman Nankervis - 02:17:24
3. Kyle Ward - 02:17:25
4. Dan McConnell - 02:18:50
5. Andy Blair - 02:19:04