15 February, 2016
Sheppard makes it four in a row at Snowies, while Ward returns to winner’s circle
Kiwi Samara Sheppard and Aussie Kyle Ward win stage 4 and extend overall lead on general classification at the 2016 Snowies Mountain Bike Festival…
SNOWY MOUNTAINS, NSW-It was a happy start to St. Valentine’s Day in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales for Samara Sheppard (NZL) and Kyle Ward (AUS) as they claim stage 4 and continued to hold on to their overall lead at the 2016 Snowies Mountain Bike Festival on Sunday.
For the 25-year-old Kiwi, the 20.5-kilometre Gravity Check descent victory marks her fourth straight win in the three-day, five-stage mountain bike race in the Australia's High Country.
Sheppard’s closest rival, international endurance superstar Renata Bucher (SUI), once again finished runner up with Zoe Cuthbert claiming her third podium finish on the day.
“We had mass start up a steep climb and had a couple of tight corners,” said Sheppard. “I had a good start and then Renata had a good inside line on the last corner so she led into the single trail and I managed to pass her on the first climb and then rode my own tempo to the finish”
For Ward, who captured the first two stages in convincing fashion, returns to the top of the podium after finishing third on stage 3 behind fellow New South Wales native Guy Frail and defending champion Andrew Blair (Specialized Racing Australia).
The win gives the 23-year-old a minute and a half lead over Blair, a two-time Australian XCM champion and 2014 Commonwealth Games representative, on general classification. Victoria’s Sebastian Jayne finished third on the stage.
But even with a solid lead, Ward knows that the race is still up for grabs with the 45km marathon remaining on Sunday afternoon.
“We might have done four stages now, but it only equates to two and a half hours and the race this afternoon is going to be equal duration,” explained Ward. “So there’s still 50 percent of the overall GC yet to be contended, so it’s going to be a big event this afternoon.”
Sheppard, who leads Bucher by over three minutes, concurred.
“My closest competitor is a really strong mountain bike rider so I’m not going to underestimate her,” admitted Sheppard. “But I feel like I haven’t overly extended myself too much, so I’m just going to go out there and give it everything I’ve got and empty the tank and hope for the best.”
The Snowies Mountain Bike Festival is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW.
Results – Top 3
- Kyle Ward, AUS, 00:48:18.35
- Andy Blair, AUS, 00:48:48.61
- Sebastian Jayne, AUS, 00:49:52:15
- Samara Sheppard, NZL, 00:56:29.57
- Renata Bucher, SUI, 00:57:28.37
- Zoe Cuthbert, AUS, 00:57.51.73
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Upcoming Events (2016):
- Snowies MTB Festival – Snowy Mountains, NSW, 12-14 February 2016
- Australian Cross Triathlon Championships (2016 Worlds Qualifier) – Snowy Mountains, NSW, 27-28 February 2016
- Mountain Designs Adventure Race Australia – NSW, 20 March 2016
- Queensland Cross Triathlon Championships (2016 Worlds Qualifier) – Sunshine Coast, QLD, 16-17 April 2016
- Mountain Designs Adventure Race Australia 18hr Dark Side & 12hr Dawn Attack – Sunshine Coast, QLD, 29-30 April, 2016
- ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships – Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa, Snowy Mountains, NSW, 18-20 November 2016
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Photo Credit: Mandy Lamont | In2Adventure