Tour de Wakatipu

Queenstown’s Mark Williams made it a hat trick when he fought off a tight challenge for the Tour de Wakatipu title on Saturday (April 23) setting a new record of 1.37.14. Six hundred and ninety people entered the race which was held for the third consecutive year and featured as a key event in the inaugural Queenstown Bike Festival.
XC Racers
Photo by Camilla Stoddart
The event which caters for elite, sport and recreational mountain bikers starts at Millbrook Resort and follows tracks across public and private land to finish at Chard Farm. Race Director Geoff Hunt says it is the only time of the year people have access through Coneburn Station along the Kawarau River which is part of the appeal of the event. “It was a stunning day and the feedback from the competitors was fantastic. It is always good to see new competitors and everyone, whatever level, can take part without any pressure.” The elite and sports competitors include a loop of Lake Hayes to ride 45km while the recreational ride covers 36km. In the elite section Williams and four others formed a tight pack from the start line dominating the race throughout. “As we came close to the finish there was a lot of jostling for position,” he says,” but I just managed to nose across in front.” Paul Winterbourne (Moa Flat) who won the elite veteran title was just two seconds behind Williams in 1.37.16 and Shorty Allnutt (Hokitika) flew over the finish line in third place in 1.37.18. Williams says conditions for the race were brilliant. “There had been rain overnight and the track was firm, a lot less dust than last year. Once again there was a great atmosphere at the finish.” National women’s mountain biking champion Kate Fluker (Queenstown) was on fire to win the elite women’s open title in 1.50.14, but she was pushed hard by Whitney Dagg (Dunedin) who claimed second place in 1.53.54. The fastest male and female junior elite competitors were Jeff Notman (Dunedin) in 1.52.57 and Laura Bridger (Dunedin) who clocked 2.01.49 respectively. The elite women’s veteran female section was won by Denise Thorne (Alexandra) in 1.56.15 while the women’s masters’ title went to Anne Scanlan (Wanaka) in 2.06.12. Brett Strachan (Queenstown) took the men’s masters’ title in a fast 1.47.14 while the masters plus section winner was Colin McKee (Invercargill) in 2.32.41. The fastest man in the sports category was Tom Kaminszky (Dunedin) in 1.57.43 while the open women’s title was won by Lydia Tann (Queenstown) in 2.06.16. Marco Wilkins (Dunedin) took out the junior men’s title in 2.24.31 while Annie Blair (Christchurch) clocked 2.00.38 to win the women’s veteran title. Dallas Bean (Rangiora) rode a quick race to win the sports veteran men’s category in 1.47.50. The sports masters’ section saw Barbara Buchanan (Dunedin) win in 2.08.57 and Dave Johnstone (Invercargill) won the men’s title in 1.57.36. The sports master plus title went to June Meadowcroft (Christchurch) in 2.43.31 and Laurie North (Queenstown) clocked a creditable 2.13.58 to win the men’s master plus. The recreational open female race was a head-to-head battle with Jindra Sykorova (Prague, Czech Republic) crossing the line in 1.50.02 just in front of Suzie Read (Queenstown) in 1.50.35. The men’s race was also closely fought with Brook Armishaw (Invercargill) taking line honours in 1.38.02 followed by Bradley McPherson (Invercargill) in 1.38.41. Women’s junior winner was Sarah Davidson (Roxburgh) who recorded 1.50.35 while Will Sutherland (Gore) won the junior men’s title in 1.40.17. In the veteran section Debbie Walders (Queenstown) clocked 1.48.27 to win the women’s title and Carey McDowall (Invercargill) took the men’s title in 1.34.06. The masters’ titles were won by Judy Morrison (Dunedin) in 1.44.44 and Kenneth Mitchell (Queenstown) who finished in 1.40.24. The fastest woman in the masters plus section was Janne Ross (Christchurch) in 2.33.10 and John Young (Dunedin) won the men’s title in 1.48.23. New World owner John Thompson who competed in the race for the third time in the sports section says the Tour de Wakatipu has become well established and is a highlight on the Queenstown mountain biking calendar. “It is the sort of event that appeals to such a range of people who can compete at their own level. Being able to cross such spectacular private tracks is also a major plus. The course was in the best condition it’s been in this year.” Nevada Sport Managing Director Hamish Cochran who sponsors the event with Merrell products says the Tour de Wakatipu has good synergy with his brand because it caters for both elite and recreational riders. “It is inspiring to see all the mixed age groups and particularly some of the older competitors. Everyone who enjoys biking can give it a go and the finish at Chard Farm has such a great atmosphere it is well worth getting there.” The Tour de Wakatipu raised $3,300 for Cure Kids which funds research into children’s life threatening illnesses and approximately $2000 will be donated to the Wakatipu Trails Trust through the sale of beverages at the finish line. High Res photos are on the web site

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