All eyes were on the pairing of Brendan Johnston & Jon Odams as the 2019 edition of the Cape to Cape mountain bike race kicked off in Margaret River, Western Australia last week. The pair headed into the event having won both the Port to Port and Reef to Reef mountain bike races earlier this year. The three events make up the prestigious triple crown of endurance mountain biking in Australia and the pair were hot favourites to make it 3 from 3 this year.
The Cape to Cape takes place over 5 days for the elite categories with a prologue Time Trial stage kicking off festivites followed by 4 days of much longer and tougher stages, the event all being based around the town of Margaret River in WA's south west. The unique attraction of the event is that riders can pair up with one another and must ride together each day adding a team element into a traditionally solo sport. The pairing of Johnston and Odams saw the prologue stage as a serious stage as there were time bonuses up for grabs. A strong showing here could setup the rest of the week in the General Classification battle.
Johnston & Odams took out the prologue and also achieved a nice time bonus for their efforts. Heading into Stage 1 it was all about ensuring they followed the moves of the other riders and kept free of any mechanicals or mishaps. The 41km stage started and finished at the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse with a stunning backdrop of the Southern Ocean behind. Johnston & Odams rode smart and finished the stage in 2nd place with the same time as stage winners Double Trouble R&R.
Stage 2 having been dubbed the "Queen Stage" of the 2019 Cape to Cape was a 72km journey beginning and finishing at the Leeuwin Estate. As if 72km wasn't hard enough, event organisers threw in a few river crossings to keep riders on their toes. After 72km of all out racing Johnston & Odams crossed the line in 1st place on the stage but hot on their heels were the Double Trouble R&R pairing. The general classification was still down to just 30 seconds after 2 stages of racing.
A shorter stage on paper was Stage 3 starting and finishing from the popular Colonial Brewery. Riders made there way out to the super twisty Middle Earth singletrack area where Johnston & Odams rode very strong having both raced the event in the past. The pair kept out of trouble and were 1st across the line again along with three other teams in tow including the Double Trouble R&R pairing. The race would come down to the final stage.
Stage 4 on paper looked relatively short at 41km but still featured 536m of climbing and riders who were yet to win a stage were keen to make their mark on the event. The host of Stage 4 was the Margaret River Distilling Co where riders would enjoy a relaxed atmosphere once the day's events had concluded.
After 41km of racing the Giant-Shimano Australia pairing of Johnston & Odams crossed the line in 2nd place on stage winning the event overall and thus taking out the coveted Triple Crown of Australian endurance mountain biking. As well as winning the event overall the pair took home the James Williamson medal for their strong showing of sportsmanship throughout the event. Special mention goes to the van der Ploeg pairing of Paul & Neil in 5th place overall and Giant WA racing in 6th.
If you're looking to challenge yourself make sure you check out the Cape to Cape event for next year, learn more over on the event website here.