The organisers of the 2018 Lasseters Easter in the Alice (LEITA) say that they keep the best trails for last. And after racing Stage 3, I’m inclined to agree.
With another start at the Telegraph Station, today we were rolling out behind a neutral car back towards the highway, before a hard right hand turn onto sandy double track to start proceedings.
The elite race had the selection you would expect pretty early on again, with Ivory, Johnston, Standish and Blair ahead with Hartung and Downing then Michelin-Beard and myself.
After a long stretch of sand, then double track, we hooked hard right into some tight and twisty singletrack. We were headed straight into the sun again, adding an extra element of technicality along with the twists, turns and rocks.
Today was best ridden in company, as the faster speeds meant spotting course markers was – tricky. A few people, or groups, missed a key turn, including leading woman Anna Beck.
With the buffel grass high, and many of the trails so narrow, the advantage of following a wheel was real. Up front, local Ryan Standish attacked about 20km in, but in time Brendan Johnston and Cam Ivory bridged back across, before Standish went again later to win solo.
The final sections of trail threw everything at you – from the more groomed Telegraph Station trails to some of the more raw, then open sandy firetrail and multi-use trail before a final crossing of the Todd to the finish line.
Karen Hill stayed on course and won the stage, with Kim Willocks second a hair in front of Imogen Smith. GC wasn’t changed in the top of the elite women’s race – although in the men’s race Standish moved into 3rd on GC edging out Andrew Blair.
This wraps up another fun mountain bike race in Alice Springs, where many of the nation’s best mountain bikers come out to race – and play. The trails are so different to other major events we get to race, and if you like rocky, technical riding, then you need to check out one of the events out here.