Stage 5 mountain bike enduro battle
AND THREE BECOMES TWO. . . or so it could transpire as Jason English fell away in today’s Stage Five 22km time trial, leaving yellow jersey rider Andy Blair, along with Aiden Lefmann, to put the pedal down for a face-off battle up front.
It was Aiden Lefmann who went harder out on his own, taking the stage win by 8 seconds in a time of 53:29. His result is rewarded with a 20 second time credit, meaning he overtakes English to be second place in the overall standings. Andy Blair took second in 53:37 (minus his 10 second credit), but in losing time to Lefmann becomes a marked man with no clear advantage for either in the remaining stages.
“There was a lot of singletrack in today’s stage, so I knew it was a good opportunity to pick up some time,” said Aiden. “I knew it’d be hard to pick up anything on Andy, but I thought Jase (English) would suffer a bit in this one.”
With only seventeen seconds now separating first and second, the race leader’s jersey could feasibly change hands this evening in the Stage Six night race; however, Aiden predicts the 2011 Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro title will more likely be decided in tomorrow’s final stage.
“I reckon we’ll play it conservatively tonight with Andy and I working together to keep Jason at bay given night racing plays to his advantage,” he said. “Tomorrow will be the crucial day, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it comes down to the last ten kays and a sprint finish, especially with time credits coming into play. It’ll be every man for himself.”
Jase isn’t out of the picture entirely, being only 1 minute 31 seconds off AIden’s cumulative time and a further eight seconds from the lead. A tough ask, but with a night stage and some luck, Jase – the first yellow jersey wearer of the event – could still pull of a comeback win.
Chicks dig bikes
Anna Beck scraped back some time from overall leader Jess Douglas in the women’s, taking a stage win in 1:06:27, nearly three minutes ahead of Douglas, crossing in 1:09:06. With time credits, Beck registers 1:05:57 and Jess a 1:08:56.
The Stage Five result means the pair go into the night race with only six minutes separating them. Barring mechanical, the stage is not realistically long enough for Beck to do much more than reel Jess in more, if she can, to set up for a final day showdown and tilt at an overall win.
“My legs are very tired,” said Beck. “I’m pretty exhausted overall, so the shorter the stages get the better for me! I think a win is doable, but definitely not a given. I’ll just try to ride smooth, do what I can. Jess will be strong in the night stage. I think it will come down to who can stick with the fast guys in tomorrow’s stage and who can just hang on the longest.”
Riders now check that their lights are all charged and attached to bikes and helmets, ready for the 22km night stage over the same course as this morning’s race, but as Rapid Ascent director John Jacoby notes: “Everything looks different in the dark – you may as well be on an entirely new course.”
PROVISIONAL RESULTS STAGE 5 (22km time trail):
1. Aiden Lefmann 00:53:29
2. Andy Blair 00:53:37
3. Jason English 00:54:41
(all before time credits)
1. Anna Beck 01:06:27
2. Jess Douglas 01:09:06
3. Anne Antrecht 1:09:23
(all before time credits)
OVERALL PROVISIONAL RESULTS STAGE 1-4
1. Andy Blair 07:27:38
2. Aiden Leffman 7:27:55
3. Jason English 07:29:26
1. Jess Douglas 09:03:21
2. Anna Beck 09:09:24
3. Jo Wall 09:26:12
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Stage One of the Ingkerreke Commercial mountain bike enduro