Riders have hit the trails of Smithfield Mountain Bike Park for the return of Reef to Reef, with the event back in Tropical North Queensland for the first time since 2019.
Mountain bikers from across Australia and around the world took on the 18km time trial to kick off Reef to Reef, with Thursday’s stage the first of four between now and Sunday.
Victoria’s Tasman Nankervis and Tasmania’s Alex Lack have set the early pace, finishing four minutes clear of Dominic Hoyal and Nathan Sandford in the men’s pairs category.
“It was unreal, the single track is like nothing else, those flowing berms and things, we’re super happy with how that went,” said Nankervis. “We probably got pretty excited on that first climb but then settled in well on the main single track climb and just drilled it the whole way and we’re happy.”
The pair are now looking forward to taking on stage two at Davies Creek on Friday.
“Try and recover and hopefully the legs feel good, that’s the main thing,” said Nankervis. “I did the race in 2019 and recovery is the main thing, tomorrow there’s good outback country out there, it’s pretty cool, creek crossings and things like that, excited to ride out on some unique terrain.”
Emma Viotto and Karl Michelin-Beard are the leading mixed pair after stage one, finishing in 59:02, ahead of Holly Harris and Mitch Docker with Peta Mullens and Jarrod Moroni third. Less than 90 seconds covers the top three after the opening stage.
“It’s always a really hard stage and trying to manage your effort, but the single track is really cool, it took me a while to find my flow coming from down south where we’ve had so much wet weather, it’s so dry and dusty here but it’s cool,” said Viotto. “It’s a different dynamic racing with your partner, I haven’t raced with Karl for a couple of years so trying to find that rhythm together.”
Michelin-Beard is enjoying being back at Reef to Reef for the first time since 2019 and is looking forward to stage two.
“Conditions were really good, last time we were here was quite a while ago when the event last ran and it was a bit looser and rockier out there which changed things up a bit but it was a really good course,” he said. “Tomorrow is really good fun for us, more flowing single track and less climbing will be good for us, Em is riding the single track really well and she’s feeling super good so I think it will be good.”
Defending women’s pair champion Anna Beck is back at Reef to Reef, riding with a new partner Karen Hill, with the duo combining well to lead the way after stage one, ahead of Kathryn Drew and Morna Nielsen, with Sharon Dean and Monique Ralph third.
“It had a bit of everything today, it was super fun, a super fast start, some really savage climbs, saw some people toiling out and walking their bikes up and some really epic descents, had a really good time, lots of fun, pretty hard but it was good,” said Beck.
Hill is enjoying riding alongside Beck, after Beck won in 2019 with Bryony Mattocks.
“It was hot out there but in the shade for a bit of it so you could get a bit of breeze and recover a bit on the descents and it was fun,” said Hill. “I’m loving it so far, I’ve got big shoes to fill taking Bryony’s place but we’ll see how it goes over the next few days, I think I’m doing ok so far.
Stage two on Friday will take riders to Davies Creek Mountain Bike for almost 40kms of racing featuring a great mix of trail types.
Reef to Reef is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.
For more on Reef to Reef and full results visit: https://reeftoreefmtb.com/