Cape to Cape comes down to the wire | Photos

After four days and more than 200km of the toughest and fastest racing the iconic Cape to Cape MTB stage race has ever seen, it was a happy, dusty and beat up group of riders who rolled across the finish line at the Margaret River Distilling Co.

None more happy, than the GIANT Shimano team of Brendan Johnston and Jon Odams who wrapped up the Epic Series 'Triple Crown' of Port to Port, Reef to Reef and Cape to Cape with another stunning performance against the best riders in the nation.

For Brendan it was also his eighth Epic Series win on the trot, but it nearly didn't eventuate. With a tough stressful night threatening to derail everything on the eve of stage four.

"I was feeling really rough and didn't get enough food in last night and really struggled this morning. I woke up and didn't want to race, so I knew it was going to be a tough one. I kept it from Jonny because I didn't want him to just worry about himself. He rode really well and we got to the finish, but I wasn't quite strong enough on the road at the finish. It was pretty hectic run home and the Trek boys were going for time on second place overall, so we were just along for the ride."

"It is unreal to think that I have strung together eight Epic Series wins, and Jon and I pulling together the Triple Crown for the Men's Pairs. To have all those individual wins and roll into the pairs and have the same amount of success straight away at all three events, is pretty cool."

"I love the Cape to Cape week. Everyone comes over and I have really good friends with the riders and the crew. I will keep doing it as long as I can and to share it with Jonny and living the battle together is something new and exciting. It is really cool," Brendan said.

Jon Odams was delighted to pull off the victory in an incredibly tough event.

"When you look at how close the times are and the average speeds on the stages, they are super, super fast and everyone is just trying to ride everyone off their wheel, so the pace is certainly up. We have had a sprint finish every stage and the 20 metres today was the biggest gap of the week. It has been super exciting and just shows you how tough the racing has been. No-one can get away and it is just the mix of which teams are in the front bunch that has varied."

The racing was fast and furious in every category, but the Men's Open Pairs racing produced the highlight of all highlights.

Going into the final Margaret River stage the third place Trek Shimano Team of Cameron Ivory and Calllum Carson needed to find 54 seconds to rein in team Double Trouble and grab second place on the podium, as Ivory explained.

"We had a bit of time to make up and we knew it was going to be on and we had to leave it all out there. With about 10km we got a bit of a break and it was us and the GIANT Shimano guys and we all got away and tried to stay away from Reece Tucknott and Brent Rees (Double Trouble). We just emptied the tank out there and came onto the tar finish and Cal launched it and expected me to get on his wheel. I could barely hold it so, we lost a few seconds there. I was absolutely cooked but it was nice to get the stage win."

What Cameron was unaware of was that after four days his spectacular dash for the line would leave his pair a mere 0.2 of second short, with Double Trouble holding on for second place in the most dramatic circumstances.

"It is very exciting and has been an awesome four days," Double Trouble's Brent Rees said. "But having a crash when the race was just starting to come together was unfortunate and we lost about 30 seconds there. Thankfully we got over our disagreement very quickly and Reece pulled on his 'power pants' and brought us home strong."

Reece explained that in the last moments of sprint finish Brent pulled off what was a inspired move coming half a bike length up on him, as they went across the line.

"That put his transponder half a bike length closer than just being on my wheel. That simple move can buy you half a second on where you are on the timing mat. That is almost unbelievable really," Reece said.

After four days, it proved to be the move of the race, holding off Trek Shimano by two tenths of a second.

"0.2 second over four days. It just goes to show what an awesome race this and that anything can happen. It is not over until it is over. Holy shit, lucky I came off your wheel," Brent proudly told his team mate.

Holly and Michael Harris continued their outstanding form, with the Cape to Cape victory wrapping up the mixed pairs "Triple Crown" for the Armidale siblings.

"We had someone challenging us every day and it made for really fine racing," Holly said. "We were racing each other but cheering for each other as well. We love the single trail here and you honestly don't get better single trail than here in Margaret River. We were loving the Pines, they are schmick."

"Winning the Triple Crown and getting a belt buckle is what I have been waiting for. I am going into Margaret River this afternoon and get myself a belt because I got my belt buckle. I am pretty excited," she declared.

Michael said the brother sister combination took to the pairs racing like 'ducks to water'.

"It was fun and I couldn't ask for a better pair. We haven't even had a little tiff or anything although Holly claims I pushed into a tree and used her as a speed hump."

Holly is also pretty happy with how things are tracking but is keeping her brother on his toes.

"I am very content, but applications are always open, but we will see," she jibed. "I had an awesome week and a great way to tie up the year. It was the best group of people and the best trails. What more can you ask for? I am chuffed."

Fox and Racoon (aka Briony Mattocks and Anna Beck) eventually got their act together to wrap up the women's open pairs but it wasn't without its comical and traumatic moments.

"The Fox and Racoon really felt more at home when we got some stages with some single track. We are little bush creatures and we like riding in the outdoors. The single track allowed us to play to our strengths and use it as a way to catch back on, if we had mechanicals, or to get a gap. I think we played it pretty well."

"We haven't had the greatest luck this week but we never really gave up. There were times when we thought we might chuck it in, but we just kept going. We didn't cry on the trail at all. After the trail maybe, but not on the trail."

"I really love pairs racing and it brings another dynamic. I have raced Cape to Cape as a solo a number of times so it was really great to do it as a pair. It adds something different and it changes the way you race the race," Briony said.

"It also brings some riders out of the woodwork," Anna added. "We have some really strong junior girls who are testing the waters with this type of racing and getting some good experience. Of course, the road girls came across and had a really good dig as well. Hopefully we will see more them at up coming races, we need more girls racing."

GC Teams: Open Men Pairs

1 GIANT- SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 07:49:15

2 DOUBLE TROUBLE R&R 07:50:36

3 TREK-SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 07:50:36

4 NANKERVIS CUP 07:53:02

5 VDP BANDITS - GIANT BIKES - SHIMANO 08:03:59

Stage 4 Teams: Open Men Pairs

1 TREK-SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 01:39:44

2 GIANT- SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 01:39:47

3 DOUBLE TROUBLE R&R 01:40:37

4 NANKERVIS CUP 01:41:41

5 VDP BANDITS - GIANT BIKES - SHIMANO 01:44:44

GC Teams: Open Women Pairs

1 FOX AND RACCOON 09:15:21

2 Specialized Duo 09:25:02

3 Motion girls 10:17:34

4 Sparkly Unicorns 10:38:53

5 TEAM 4T2/KALAMUNDA CYCLES 11:11:45

Stage 4 Teams: Open Women Pairs

1 FOX AND RACCOON 01:59:20

2 Specialized Duo 02:02:20

3 Motion girls 02:08:20

4 Sparkly Unicorns 02:13:59

5 TEAM 4T2/KALAMUNDA CYCLES 02:19:26

GC Teams: Mixed Pairs

1 SRAM MTOSS 08:33:46

2 SHIMANO PUSHYS CANNONDALE 08:43:44

3 MORONI BIKES BENDIGO 08:45:09

4 Trek Shimano Australia 08:57:45

5 GIANT WOLLONGONG 09:29:22

Stage 4 Teams: Mixed Pairs

1 SRAM MTOSS 01:52:55

2 SHIMANO PUSHYS CANNONDALE 01:53:36

3 MORONI BIKES BENDIGO 01:54:48

4 Trek Shimano Australia 01:56:38

5 GIANT WOLLONGONG 02:00:52

This story Cape to Cape comes down to the wire | Photos first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.