SNOWY MOUNTAINS, NSW-Only 2 days remain until mountain bike specialists and off-road endurance enthusiasts stake a spot on the starting grid at the second annual Snowies Mountain Bike Festival this St Valentine’s Day weekend (12-14 February).
One name already on the start list is reigning champion and pre-race favourite Andrew Blair (Specialized Racing Australia). The two-time Australian national champion and 2014 Commonwealth Games representative is set to defend his title over the three-day, five-stage elite mountain bike race.
“Unlike a lot of mountain bike stage races, there is no single stage at the Snowies MTB Festival that that is the decisive one,” said Blair, who won three of the four stages last year to claim the inaugural title along with his wife of one week, Jenny Fay (IRL), who earned the elite women’s title and a share of the $10,000 prize purse.
“Last year the TVT (Thredbo Valley Trail) descent stage ended up being the stage that decided the race in the men’s event which would have surprised many,” he explained further. “I think any of the five stages could be critical this year and with such variation in the stages you really need to be a good all-rounder to get a good result.
“This makes the race exciting and will keep everyone on their toes.”
With an additional stage and extended race weekend, the event has attracted a who’s who of Australian mountain biking to this year’s event once again held in the picturesque setting of Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa and Thredbo Resort in the iconic Snowy Mountains of New South Wales.
Aside from Blair, other elite male contenders include Kyle Ward (NSW), Shaun Lewis (Specialized), Tim Fitzpatrick (On Your Bike Echuca), Trent Pons (NSW), Sebastian Jayne (Subaru Marathon MTB), Nathan Russell (Cyclery Northside), Ryan Kyprianou, Lewis Cressy (ONYAbike-Hammer Maxxis) and Mark Cordingley (Team05 Racing).
Ireland’s Jenny Blair (neé Fay), captured the elite women’s crown last year, but it’s Renata Bucher (SWI), Sharon Heap (QLD), Jessica Simpson (NSW), Cristy Henderson (ACT) and Briony Mattocks (Cyclery Northside) who will all be vying for a shot at the title. Other stars to watch include Sara Mills (JetBlack-Pivot), Laura Renshaw (Drift Bikes), Louise Cook (ACT) and one of our ‘Young Guns’ Zoe Cuthbert (ACT).
“It is really hard to train perfectly for an event like this with so many varied stages, as specific training for each one would surely take more time than most of us have,” explained Blair. “I’d say the most important thing would be to get on you mountain bike as much as possible and add in some short hard efforts to your normal training as well as some weekend where you have two solid back-to-back days.”
This year’s race still features an Alpine start line at 1,260 metres in elevation, as well as 100 kilometres of rugged mountain terrain, technical single track, monstrous ascents, daring descents and, of course, a hefty $10,000 cash prize pool.
“The inaugural Snowies Mountain Bike Festival in 2015 was so good it’s hard to believe that it was the first year the stage race had been run and it was one of my favourite races of the year,” Blair told race host In2Adventure. “This is truly a mountain bike race that has everything; iconic location, epic trails, varied fun stages that are challenging yet achievable, friendly atmosphere, beautiful accommodation and no stressful transfers.”
Like last year’s historic event, this year’s race kicks off with a gruelling 5.5km time trial around the scenic bushland surrounding Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa. However, unlike last year, the time trial opens the Festival on Friday evening, leaving the 21.5km Thredbo Summit Smash and the brand new 6km Thredbo All Mountain Descent on Saturday before the 20.5km Gravity Check descent and 45km XCM closes out the final day of racing.
“I am once again looking forward to the TVT descent stage,” admitted Blair. “This trail has become immensely popular for very good reason, the downside of which is that it is almost impossible to ride it fast on a weekend or holiday period (when we can get to the mountains).
“Having the opportunity to race this trail knowing that it is closed off to the public made this stage last year probably the most enjoyable hour of riding I did in 2015. I can’t wait to do it again.”
The Snowies Mountain Bike Festival is not just for elite riders. The Snowies will also be a testing event for age group solo riders, as well as for those looking for a slightly less demanding challenge. Riders can take part in teams of two or three riders, with one team member taking on different stages of the race. Riders can also take part in the 45km, 30km or 15km XC MTB on Sunday, choosing the distance most suited to their ability.
“With over 50 percent of entries sold on the first day and a continuous flow of entries over the past few weeks, numbers have already surpassed last year figures,” said In2Adventure event director Robyn Lazenby. “This is such exciting news for a festival in only its second year, but is testament to the standard of mountain biking that the Snowy Mountains Region has to offer riders, especially at Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa and Thredbo Resort.
“It’s going to be a spectacular few days and, like last year we have a few surprises planned to create a really special experience for all riders.”
One of the event hubs, Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa will offer 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.
In2Adventure are Asia-Pacific’s premier adventure event specialists. With a full calendar of national events scheduled throughout Australia, including adventure races, cross triathlon, XC Mountain Bike, trail runs 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 (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: In 2 Adventure
Aaron S. Lee
Media Manager | Public Relations
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