TransWales 2011: Five linking stages and four special stages down

Five linking stages and four special stages in the Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sportis taking shape amidst some stunning scenery and scorching riding…

Linking Stage FIve (including Special Stage Four)Machynlletyh to CymystwythTotal distance: 75kmClimbing: 2400m
Day five took the riders from Machynlleth to Cwmystwyth, some 73km and 2300m of climbing south the fifth linking stage of the Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport struck out towards the fourth special stage at Nant-y-Arian.

Today’s special stage would see drama, fight backs and significant changes in the overall classification that proved that although the fat lady was preparing to warm up her vocal chords, she’s decided against it and gone for a drink instead. The fight is not yet over – by any stretch of the imagination.

After leaving Machynlleth, the riders climbed through woodland up to Mynydd Bychan at 493m. The woods gave way to stunning wilderness sprinkled liberally with sheep and stone walls, speared by rocky drovers track that made its way to the river crossing of Afon Hengwm. After some wet feet the trail continued its tumbling way to the stunning Nant-y-Moch reservoir that’s situated in a remote saddle. Skirting its shores saw the riders join the outreach of the natural trail component of Nant-y-Arian’s Continental trail: a superb blend of flowing manmade singletrack together with an ‘out there’ feel.

Following it against the flow brought the riders to the start of the day’s special stage at Nant-y-Arian at Liyn Syfydrin. Unlike yesterday’s special stage which favoured the descenders, today’s was undoubtedly one for the climbers.
The 8km trail centre loop stage began with a sequence of wide rocky climbs and fast descents, before plunging into carving singletrack that switchbacked down the hillside, and kept on going. And going.

It finally came to an end at the valley floor where the only way was up. In this case: two miles of relentless and sustained gradient on the infamous fireroad climb, the Leg Burner. It was do or die rhythm time. After the summit the trail swung left for one last short but sharp singletrack dash to the finish.

Prior to the start of today’s special stage, the Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category looked as though Matt Page (Wiggle) was on his way to taking the overall win as he had a leading margin of almost a minute. However, the smart money was down on Ajay Chhatri (Torq) to light the afterburners on the Leg Burner climb to claw back some of that deficit.

If a sweepstake had been made then a decent lump of cash would’ve been made as Chhatri lived up to expectation and truly smashed the 8km course in an incredibly fast 21mins 15secs. In fact, his time was so swift that it destroyed the previous course record set by Jonathan Pugh in 2009 by a massive 1min 40secs.

The net result of Chhatri’s heroics is that he took the stage win, reduced Page’s overall lead down by half to 29secs, and in doing so has moved up into second in the general classification once again.

In the Saris Racks Veteran Solo Male category, Paul Whittaker (Stockport Clarion CC) dug deep and put in a sterling effort to reacquaint himself with the top spot of the podium; he took the win ahead of Andy Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC) by 40secs in a time of 22mins 59secs – itself a good enough time to have secured him fifth in the Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category. This result sees Whittaker move up to second in the overall, 36secs behind Jones, with Andy Roberts (Unattached) moving down to third over a minute behind Whittaker.

The Buff Headwear Female Pairs category has seen a great battle so far between the top two teams – Elizabeth Adams and Rosemary Byde (Team Number 28), and Steph Fountain and Lisa Bolton (Saddle Skedaddle) – and today was no different. After Saddle Skedaddle’s win yesterday on the Climachx special stage Team Number 28 were out to exact revenge. And they did just that.

And then some. They took the win by an impressive 1min and 36secs over Saddloe Skeddadle, in a time of 28mins 11secs. Kelly Clark and Cath Hempsall (Unattached) took third place. This sees the overall lead change over yet again with Team Number 28 returning to the lead, with Saddle Skedaddle 1min 40secs ahead behind.

In the Schwalbe Tyres Female Solo category there was all to play for as Fi Spotswood (Cyclist No 1) and Hannah Thorne (Unattached) were – on paper – both capable of engineering an advantage over the other. After Thorne’s second place at last year’s Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport to the UK’s 24 Solo National Champion, Rickie Cotter (Wiggle), she obviously has the thirst to go one better this year.

Over the last two days her confidence on the descents has been in contrast to Spotswood’s, and the win in the downhill special stage has obviously given her the impetus to consolidate her gains. On today’s special stage her climbing ability was the only question mark, however she resolutely silenced her critics by producing a ride in a class of her own. She was the only female racer to go sub-26mins, finishing the special stage in 25mins 26secs – a clear 39secs ahead of Spotswood. Coming in third was a new face for the podium in the form of Anna Buckingham (The Big Adventure Store), who completed the stage in 30mins 57secs. This sees Thorne extend her lead in the overall classification to 47secs ahead of Spotswood, with Buckingham also taking third in the overall.

Tomorrow’s Exposure Lights night time special stage on the 6km Cwm-y-Rhaiadr trail –  which is essentially a long and sustained fireroad and singletrack climb, and then one massive sweeping and exhilarating singletrack descent – should be a nail biter. The climb will help Chhatri make up the 29secs he’s down on Page by, however Page has proved the stronger overall descender; coupled with this, he has a home advantage as he lives in Cilycwm just down the road so knows the trails well.

But as previous year’s have shown, the Exposure Lights night time special stage can throw added drama into the mix with punctures and tyre slashes aplenty, plus Chhatri can more than hold is own on the singletrack. In essence, the win is very much still either of theirs and tomorrow could help decide who will be crowned and who will be consoled.
Before that, however, there’s the small matter of the sixth linking stage that takes the riders from Cymystwyth to Cilycwm, some 74km and 2000m of climbing away.

Not only that, but tomorrow’s linking stage is expected to be one of the best days riding of the entire Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport. Featuring the classic Doethie Valley – an awesome 5km singletrack descent that flanks the River Doethie below on a mere ribbon of singletrack – as well as the famous Strata Florida river crossings that sees the trail flit through various rivers and tributaries countless times down a pinball trail that – as long as you get your head around the fact that you’re going to get very wet – is ridiculous good fun.

It will be a great day to savour and will be full of drama, great trails, thrills and by the day’s end we’ll be one step closer to crowning the Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport Champions for 2011.

SPECIAL STAGE THREE RESULTS

Buff Headwear Female Pairs category

1 – Elizabeth Adams & Rosemary Byde (Team Number 28): 28:11.457

2 – Steph Fountain & Lisa Bolton (Saddle Skedaddle): 29:52.829

3 – Kelly Clark & Cath Hempsall (Unattached): 33:24.385

Merida Bikes Male Pairs category

1 – Simon Harrison & Robin Calverley (RAF CC): 24:23.163

2 – Mark Wright & Enda Reynolds (Team Trailbadger): 25:17.827

3 – Peter Tachelet & Stijn Tachelet (Bronto-Chaos): 26:09.845

Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category

1 – Ajay Chhatri (Torq): 21:15.723

2 – Matt Page (Wiggle): 21:45.570

3 – Scott Cornish (Unattached): 22:08.847

Schwalbe Tyres Female Solo category

1 – Hannah Thorne (Unattached): 25:26.993

2 –Fiona Spotswood (Cyclist No. 1): 26:05.387

3 – Anna Buckingham (The Big Adventure Store): 30:57.303

Alpina Helmets Veteran Pairs Male category

1 – Martyn Bramhall & Mick Fairest (Sheffield Pheonix): 29:05.180

2 – Richard Hoyte & Simon Alun (Dirty Habit): 29:36.119

3 – Steven Williams & Paul Smith (East Midlands Airport): 33:42.080

Birzman Tools Mixed Pairs category

1 – Katie Vaughan & Andrew Heywood (Motor Neurone Disease Association): 28:31.631

2 – John Drummon & Catherine Drummond (Align Pilates): 29:31.982

3 – Johanita Swanepoel & Pierre Cloete (Cameltoe): 34:09.768

Saris Racks Veteran Solo Male category

1 – Paul Whittaker (Stockport Clarion CC): 22:59.203

2 – Andy Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC): 23:49.000

3 – Gary Cousins (phasenineclothing.co.uk): 25:03.410

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

Buff Headwear Female Pairs category

1 – Elizabeth Adams & Rosemary Byde (Team Number 28): 35:22:39

2 – Steph Fountain & Lisa Bolton (Saddle Skedaddle): 35:23:59

3 – Kelly Clark & Cath Hempsall (Unattached): 35:31:36

Merida Bikes Male Pairs category

1 – Simon Harrison & Robin Calverley (RAF CC): 35:13:52

2 – Mark Wright & Enda Reynolds (Team Trailbadger): 35:15:17

3 – Peter Tachelet & Stijn Tachelet (Bronto-Chaos): 35:19:16

Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category

1 – Matt Page (Wiggle): 35:08:46

2 – Ajay Chhatri (Torq): 35:09:17

3 – Matt Williams (Unattached): 35:10:49

Schwalbe Tyres Female Solo category

1 – Hannah Thorne (Unattached): 35:15:54

2 – Fiona Spotswood (Cyclist No. 1): 35:16:41

3 – Anna Buckingham (The Big Adventure Store): 35:28:09

Alpina Helmets Veteran Pairs Male category

1 – Dave Sheppard & Trevor Marshall (MAMIL): 35:30:20

2 – Ben Barden & Chris Putnam (White Spirit): 35:43:16

Birzman Tools Mixed Pairs category

1 – Katie Vaughan & Andrew Heywood (Motor Neurone Disease Association): 35:22:04

2 – John Drummond & Catherine Drummond (Align Pilates): 35:25:40

3 – Johanita Swanepoel & Pierre Cloete (Cameltoe): 35:33:15

Saris Racks Veteran Solo Male category

1 – Andy Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC): 35:12:06

2 – Paul Whittaker (Stockport Clarion CC): 35:12:42

3 – Andy Roberts (Unattached): 35:14:17

www.mtbtransuk.co.uk

X

Also in Features

Just in: Santa Cruz Highball 29er

Read More