With a return to The Pines for Stage 4 of the 2017 Cape to Cape, riders were happy to ignore tired legs and the temptation of the snooze button for the ripping trails of Compartment 10 that lay ahead.

With less than 50km to cover, and 10mm of rain (via an epic thunderstorm!) overnight, many wondered if the trails would be boggy, soft or just hero dirt.

The main street of Margaret River was shut down for the wave starts, as close to 2000 avid mountain bikers set forth to conquer what lay ahead of them. The question many asked was could anyone top Brendan Johnston, and would Samara Sheppard get a clean sweep of 4 stage wins (excluding the Dirt Crit, which Peta Mullens won)?

Was Paul van der Ploeg keen to animate the race again?

We would all have to wait to find out, and after the race set off towards Carters Road, there was news that Jayden Ward had a crash, an unfortunate finish for the younger Ward after Kyle broke his collarbone on Stage 2.

Riders tried and tried to break the strength of 'Trekky', but Johnston was too strong, and had an asnwer for whatever was thrown at him. A small group got away in the closing kilometres, but by the time the race reached the finish line back in Margaret River, it was Brendan Johnston who crossed alone, throwing a long vistory salute as he entered the finish chute.

Tasman Nankervis was just behind with team mate Ryan Standish. Andrew Blair crossed in 4th with Rohin Adams in 5th. Full results are online. 

In the women's race, Samara Sheppard was untouchable, and Peta Mullens took 2nd place infront of Renata Bucher. Briony Mattocks was 4th and she leapfrogged Jessica Simpson on GC to finish in 4th overall too.

With the sun shining, riders were greeted by family and friends, or relaxed on the grass and swapped tales from the trial. Thanks to a race start and finish right in Margaret River, the cafes and restauraants were soon overflowing with riders, and the street was buzzing with freewheels and tall stories.

The 2017 Cape to Cape was a departure from the original route, travelling from one Cape to another. But ther new format based out of Margaret River has won a lot of favour. Some yearn for the point to point experience, but many prefer less time driving to stage starts and finishes, and more time on exceptional trails, and spending time with their mates.

Will we see a return to the older format in 2018, or an updated version of the 2017 course? Time will tell.

Don't miss our full feature on the Cape to Cape race in a coming issue of AMB. If you don't want to miss it, make sure you subscribe.