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TransWales 2011: Day four full of thrills

08:19 18th August 2011 by David Arthur @davearthur
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The fourth day of the Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport was full of thrills and spills aplenty, laced with lashings of drama as the third special stage played out.

Linking stage four (including Special Stage Three)

Llandidloes to Machynlleth: Total distance: 84km - Climbing: 2250m

The fourth day of the Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport rolled out of Llandiloes at 9am under promising skies as yesterday’s rains receded into memory. The riders warmed their weary legs up on the Tarmac before hitting the dirt to follow the River Severn towards its source in Hafren Forest. After navigating the Cadbury Flake like folds of the forest the riders left the wooded darkness behind to climb Penycrocben at 469m – an open moor which was the site of a Roman fortlet that today merely guards stunning views to the south east. The trail then gently sped downwards towards a tricky rocky chute that spat riders onto a bridge before a short hike-a-bike.

Riders then headed to the highest point of the day – Foel Fadian at 564m – before plunging downwards into the Dovey Valley over a tricky wet rock slab that claimed more than a few victims. Both steep and slippery it was an intimidating drop over the summit and straight into its merciless maw. Many chose to dismount and walk, leaving only the foolhardy and the skillful to tackle it head on. The smoothest and fastest rider down was Hannah Thorne (Unattached), currently placed second in the Schwalbe Tyres Female Solo category. Her form was outstanding and boded well for her attack on the downhill special stage on the Climachx trail at the end of the day.

After the lunch stop the trail hooked up into the woods that hide the infamous – and oft overlooked – Climachx trail. The riders climbed and careered deeper into the wood’s depth depths, getting into the swooping singletrack groove before they arrived at the crunch point of the day: the downhill special stage. With so many categories still running so close, today’s special stage was the opportunity for the gravity gifted to nose ahead of their rivals in the overall classification.

Beginning off a rolling start down some fireroad it swoops downwards on undulating singletrack and into the woods for an extended section of flowing but rockier terrain. Stone slabs and steps pepper the descent as it snakes its way around the flanks of Myndd-Fron-Felen, with the first third seeing a tricky rocky section which only the smoothest conquer, whilst others opt to run. The trail then careers faster and faster along sumptuous singletrack until the bermalicious crescendo.

After the rotor pinging finish to the special stage, the riders warmed down with a black top spin to the day’s end at Machynlleth. The town itslef itself, once the capital of Wales, is the British capital of alternative technology. More importantly, it isn’t short of a few pubs either which the riders made full use of to calm nerves and soothe legs before the fifth linking stage on Thursday morning.

After the dust settled from the days racing, Matt Page (Wiggle) had extended his lead in the Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category with an emphatic win on the Climachx trail, clocking the day’s best time of 8mins 26secs, 8secs faster than second placed James Davies (Brooks Cycles) – who makes his first podium of the event. Nepal’s Ajay Chhetri (Torq) crossed the line 44secs down in seventh – his lowest placing of the event so far. This has meant that the overall standings have changed, with Page extending his lead to 58secs over the new second placed Davies, with Chhetri nipping at his heels just 2secs back. With the Leg Burner climb on the menu for tomorrow’s special stage at Nant-y-Arian its conceivable that Chhetri can make back a chunk of time as he’s shown his climbing prowess is significantly stronger than Page’s.

In the Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category a New Zealander Hannah Thorne (Unattached) lived up to the promise that her form prophecised on the Foel Fadian slab descent by smashing the Climachx trail to win by a clear 21secs ahead of Fiona Spotswood (Cyclist No 1). Unfortunately for Natasha Berry (BikeLux/Progression), she finished almost a minute behind Spotswood – a result that sees her drifting out of contention for the overall 2mins 23secs down on the new category leader Hannah Thorne, with Spotswood also displaced into second.

Elsewhere, the Buff Headwear Female Pairs saw Steph Fountain & Lisa Bolton (Saddle Skedaddle) finally make the top step in the special stage in a emphatic style by storming home in a time of 11mins 11 secs a minute faster than second placed Elizabeth Adams & Rosemary Byde (Team Number 28).

In the Saris Racks Veteran Solo Male category Gary Cousins (phasenineclothing.co.uk) came back from a high speed crash on the linking stage that left him battered and bruised with a destroyed helmet, to take third place on the special stage, 20secs behind second placed Andy Roberts (Unattached), and 40secs behind the stage winner Andy Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC). Jones’ won in 8mins 56secs – a margin that saw him extend his lead in the overall by a minute over Roberts, who moves up into second, with Cousins dropping back to third.

Tomorrow’s fifth linking stage will take the riders from Machynlleth to Cymystwyth some 75km and 2400m of climbing away. Along the way the riders will tackle the fourth special stage – another trail centre loop time trial – on the fine Nant-y-Arian trails.

With the Leg Burner climb in the mix and a lot of descending it should be a level playing field for both climbers and downhillers alike; the racing should be close but whoever edges ahead here may well claw themselves a small yet significant advantage with just two special stages remaining. With all to play for in many of the categories, it’s certainly not over ‘til the fat lady sings, although there’s a chance she may well begin her vocal exercises tomorrow.

SPECIAL STAGE THREE RESULTS

Buff Headwear Female Pairs category

1 – Steph Fountain & Lisa Bolton (Saddle Skedaddle): 11:11.490

2 – Elizabeth Adams & Rosemary Byde (Team Number 28): 12:20.000

3 – Kelly Clark & Cath Hempsall (Unattached): 12:26.325

Merida Bikes Male Pairs category

1 – Simon Harrison & Robin Calverley (RAF CC): 09:21.670

2 – Mark Wright & Enda Reynolds (Team Trailbadger): 09:32.925

3 – Ben Warrick & David Evans (Evans): 10:00.455

Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category

1 – Matt Page (Wiggle): 08:26.240

2 – James Davies (Brooks Cycles): 08:34.750

3 – Simon Hawken (Army Cycling Union/Primal Europe): 08:52.360

Schwalbe Tyres Female Solo category

1 – Hannah Thorne (Unattached): 09:28.930

2 –Fiona Spotswood (Cyclist No. 1): 09:49.330

3 – Natasha Barry (BikeLux/Progression): 11:47.910

Alpina Helmets Veteran Pairs Male category

1 – Martyn Bramhall & Mick Fairest (Sheffield Pheonix): 11:18.220

2 – Richard Hoyte & Simon Alun (Dirty Habit): 11:27.205

3 – Steven Williams & Paul Smith (East Midlands Airport): 11:36.895

Birzman Tools Mixed Pairs category

1 – Katie Vaughan & Andrew Heywood (Motor Neurone Disease Association): 11:41.365

2 – John Drummon & Catherine Drummond (Align Pilates): 13:17.915

3 – Johanita Swanepoel & Pierre Cloete (Cameltoe): 13:21.065

Saris Racks Veteran Solo Male category

1 – Andy Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC): 08:56.470

2 – Andy Roberts (Unattached): 09:22.300

3 – Gary Cousins (phasenineclothing.co.uk): 09:41.110

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

Buff Headwear Female Pairs category

1 – Elizabeth Adams & Rosemary Byde (Team Number 28): 27:24:06

2 – Steph Fountain & Lisa Bolton (Saddle Skedaddle): 27:24:27

3 – Kelly Clark & Cath Hempsall (Unattached): 27:28:04

Merida Bikes Male Pairs category

1 – Simon Harrison & Robin Calverley (RAF CC): 27:19:28

2 – Mark Wright & Enda Reynolds (Team Trailbadger): 27:19:59

3 – David Askin & David O’Brien (Rally da Digger): 27:21:21

Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category

1 – Matt Page (Wiggle): 27:17:01

2 – James Davies (Brooke Cycles): 27:17:59

3 – Ajay Chhatri (Torq): 27:18:01

Schwalbe Tyres Female Solo category

1 – Hannah Thorne (Unattached): 27:20:27

2 – Fiona Spotswood (Cyclist No. 1): 27:20:36

3 – Natasha Barry (BikeLux/Progression): 27:22:50

Alpina Helmets Veteran Pairs Male category

1 – Dave Sheppard & Trevor Marshall (MAMIL): 27:23:53

2 – Ben Barden & Chris Putnam (White Spirit): 27:30:52

Birzman Tools Mixed Pairs category

1 – Katie Vaughan & Andrew Heywood (Motor Neurone Disease Association): 27:23:32

2 – John Drummond & Catherine Drummond (Align Pilates): 27:26:08

3 – Johanita Swanepoel & Pierre Cloete (Cameltoe): 27:29:06

Saris Racks Veteran Solo Male category

1 – Andy Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC): 27:18:17

2 – Andy Roberts (Unattached): 27:19:11

3 – Gary Cousins (phasenineclothing.co.uk): 27:19:22

www.mtbtransuk.co.uk


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