Blair and Cuthbert take out stage 5 and capture elite men’s and women’s Snowies Mountain Bike Festival titles
February 11, 2018
SNOWY MOUNTAINS, NSW | Former 2-time national XCM champion, Commonwealth Games representative, and winner of the inaugural Snowies MTB Festival in 2015, Andy Blair has won a hard fought battle across five stages to reclaim his Snowy Mountains crown in 2018 while Zoe Cuthbert at just 17 years of age, has taken out the Elite Women’s Crown.
The Snowies Mountain Bike Festival hosted at Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa & Thredbo Resort in the iconic Snowy Mountains of New South Wales challenged riders with five stages across three-days with some of the most challenging and diverse riding found anywhere in Australia.
With two stage wins each under their belt it was Andy Blair (The Cyclery- Specialized) and young gun Jayden Ward (Stelf Cycling Team) who came into Stage 5 with everything to race for in the men’s GC. Ward held a 40sec lead over Blair with Toby Stewart (Phoenix Cycling) in third 6:35 off the pace. With that scenario it was always going to be a battle of the titans in Stage 5 ‘Release the Cracken Marathon’. With riders neck and neck on laps 1 and 2, Blair had to dig deep in the final lap to take the stage win in 1:51:34, 1:29 ahead of Ward with Stewart in third.
Catching up with Blair after the race his philosophy as he headed into stage 5 was “Don’t give up til it’s over. I had 40 secs to find somewhere, I wasn’t super confident but I’ve done enough races to know that anything can happen. I just put my head down on the last lap and just left it all out there and finished completely empty.”
Blair was “very happy to take out the win. It was a tough battle with Jayden and Toby that ended up coming down to the last stage so I definitely had to work hard for it but it is all the more satisfying. I’m looking forward to coming back again next year.”
In the female GC race Peta Mullens (Focus Attaquer) came into the race carrying a heavy cold and heading into stage 5 it was anybody’s title with Zoe Cuthbert (Trek Shimano Australia) and Mullens each having two stage wins under their belt. There was just 4 seconds separating the two and Swiss legend Renata Bucher (Aloha Racing) was not far behind in third. Bucher demonstrated some of the hard grit and determination that she is famous for in stage 5 and pulled back a mighty win, 5 seconds ahead of Cuthbert. Despite the second place, Cuthbert’s time of 2:07:57, which was 11 seconds ahead of closest rival Mullens, was enough to hold onto the overall win in the GC with a lead of 15 seconds.
“Being my first elite win, winning this race has had a pretty amazing feeling.” said Cuthbert.
“Each stage held an exciting race with awesome riders that pushed me to my limit, but were very encouraging at the same time. The courses were always a balance between fun and challenging and out on track I had amazing support from spectators, fellow riders, volunteers and race organisers.
Between each stage everyone was just as supportive, sharing tales from out on course, giving me tips for the next stage and encouraging me to try my hardest. ‘In2adventure put on a great race (once again) and I look forward to race again next year!”
Cuthbert topped general classification (GC) 15 seconds over her nearest rival – road, mtb and cx superstar Mullens – who’s focus has been on the tarmac this year with Swiss legend Bucher finishing third edging out Briony Mattocks (Cyclery Northside) only on the final stage.
After the race Mullens, racing for the first time at the Snowies MTB Festival, said that “I might just have found a new favourite cross country stage race. [this is] a race I’ll just HAVE to bring my Focus Attaquer CX Team to next year.”
She went on to add, “finally a stage race that offers more descending than climbing, an extra 6km thanks to a serene chairlift ride it offers achievable climbs, flowing descents and endless single track that I fell in love with even in my current state of health.”
This year’s race featured an Alpine start line at 1,260 metres in elevation, as well just under 100 kilometres of rugged mountain terrain, technical single track, monstrous ascents, daring descents and, of course, a $5,000 cash prize pool.
Elite and amateur riders alike faced a barrage of mountain biking disciplines, including a 5.5km time trial, 19.5km Thredbo Summit Smash, 5.8km Thredbo All Mountain Descent, the 18.5k Gravity Check and 45k Release The Cracken marathon.
One of the event hubs, Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa offered competitors and spectators use of the resort with properties from studios to three bedroom apartments covering all budgets and tastes. And the other, Thredbo Resort also has a wide range of accommodation and activities, giving visitors a perfect base to explore this spectacular part of NSW.
The Snowies Mountain Bike Festival is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.
STAGE 5 RESULTS | TOP 3
- Andrew Blair, ACT, 1:51:34
- Jayden Ward, NSW, 1:53:04
- Toby Stewart, NSW, 1:56:47
- Renata Bucher, SUI, 2:07:51
- Zoe Cuthbert, ACT, 2:07:57
- Peta Mullens, VIC, 2:08:08
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (FINAL)
- Andrew Blair, ACT, 3:56:56
- Jayden Ward, NSW, 3:57:45
- Toby Stewart, NSW, 4:08:03
- Daniel Bonello, NSW, 4:10:24
- Jarrod Moroni, VIC, 4:10:34
- Zoe Cuthbert, ACT, 4:31:01
- Peta Mullens, VIC, 4:31:17
- Renata Bucher, SUI, 4:32:17
- Briony Mattocks, NSW, 4:35:08
- Cristy Henderson, ACT, 4:43:44
In2Adventure are Asia-Pacific’s premier adventure event specialists. With a full calendar of national events scheduled throughout Australia, including cross triathlon, XC Mountain Bike, trail runs, adventure races and corporate events, In2Adventure fully embraces all things ‘off road’ and ‘off the beaten track’ and offers a unique, individual experience for all ages and skill levels. For more information visit In2Adventure here.
UPCOMING EVENTS | 2018
- Australian Cross Triathlon Championships (2018 Worlds Qualifier) | Snowy Mtns, NSW | 24 Feb 2018
- Australian Aquathlon Championships (2018 Worlds Qualifier) | Snowy Mtns, NSW |24 Feb 2018
- Snowies Trail Run Festival | Snowy Mountains, NSW | 25 Feb 2018
- Queensland Cross Triathlon Championships | Moreton Bay Region, QLD | 24/25 Mar 2018
- TreX National Cross Triathlon Championships | Sunshine Coast, Qld | 28 Apr 2018
- Sunshine Coast Trail Run Festival | Sunshine Coast, Qld | 28 Apr 2018
- Sunshine Coast MTB Festival | Sunshine Coast, Qld | 29 Apr 2018
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PHOTO CREDIT: Adam Wilson | Greybox Images
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