Turns out, Rocky Trail Entertainment grabbed one (if not) THE last sunny autumn day in Canberra to finally start the Shimano MTB Grand Prix Season for 2021.
The 13th racing season had been delayed because of the wet weather pattern in NSW and over 250 Rocky Trail cross-country endurance racers were keen to hit the race track at Stromlo Forest Park for the 4 and 6 hour competitions as solo or relay pairs. In the 4-hour two Canberrans stole the show with Jennifer Davis and Ben Henderson are the solo winners and Newcastle’s 24-hour solo world Champion Jason English takes the solo and outright win in the 6-hour men’s. Michelle Morris from the NSW Central Coast wins her first 6-hour women’s solo race.
Popular 4-hour format attracts visiting racers and local guns
“What a great way to get back into training with the Shimano MTB GP today. I LOVE these events, and nice to do one on home soil.” – said Em Viotto the 2nd-placed female in the 4-hour solo competition at Stromlo who enjoyed getting back into the swing of things in 2021. After 7 laps in 3h43:32 she credited fellow Canberran and roadie expert Jennifer Davis with a strong race and added that she “deserved the win”.
Davis completed one lap more, crossing the line as the female winner with 8 laps in 4h36:35. In third outright was Female 50+ winner Tara Sutherland (Canberra).
In the men’s it was Ben Henderson who was able to defeat Sydney’s Ben Fillingham and Sam Chancellor from Gherang in VIC.
“It was a really enjoyable course, something different and a track combination I haven’t raced often on my home trails”, Henderson said. He added that the 4-hour solo competition was an ideal training ground for him and he finished with 9 laps right on the 4-hour mark about 5 minutes ahead of Fillingham.
Rocky Trail old-hand Sam Chancellor was returning to Shimano MTB GP racing after a few years of absence with busy work and family lives taking priority, but raced from VIC straight onto the GP podium at Stromlo in 9 laps (4h26:08). – We shall scan the Shimano GP start line at Blores Hill this Saturday for his jersey 😉
The line-honours go to Ross and Glen Goggin from Bredbo with 10 laps in 4h19:20.
New in 2021: 6 hour competition
With the new Season Rocky Trail also made a change from 7 to 6 hours for solos and pairs only in the race format of the longer endurance racing option.
“We saw a shift in the rider preference over the last two years, especially in the teams classifications. The 6 hour will allow our riders to get more racing time and has the advantage that we won’t run out of daylight in the winter months”, says Race Director Martin Wisata. He added that at Stromlo over three quarters of the field had raced in the 4 hour and that Rocky Trail would still continue to offer the longer format, “We know that the shorter race format is very popular, however, we have a very loyal endurance following and we love seeing them thrive and enjoy this challenge every time again.”
One of the most successful ultra-endurance MTB racers in Australia and the World backed up a 1,000km Cloud ride the week before with a 6-hour solo and outright line honours win at Stromlo: Jason English from Newcastle clocked in 13 laps in 6h03:48. In second outright was 23-year old Jordan Louis from Carwoola (+13.37min) ahead of Sydney’s Jonny Harrison (-1 lap).
The race sensation was Michelle Morris from the NSW Central Coast who clocked in 11 laps in 6h12.06 which placed her 14th in the entire 6-hour field. As a seasoned 4-hour Rocky Trail racer the Stromlo event had been her first attempt at the longer endurance option. “This has been a goal of mine for a long time and I’m really excited to win this”, Morris said and that she had specifically trained for the race. Michelle placed first ahead of Catherine Wood from the Blue Mountains (10 laps in 6h01:43) and Kim Cayzer from Canberra (9 laps).
The next edition of the series will be the Shimano GP at Blores Hill in VIC this Saturday, 17 April, followed by the Awaba NSW GP on 8 May as well as the Logan Daisy Hill GP that same Saturday in QLD.
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