Port to Port: Stage 4

With the finish line in sight, Port to Port saved the best until last for the final run in…

With the finish line in sight, Port to Port saved the best until last for the final run into Newcastle. Thomas and Richie clipped in and let rip on a course chock-a-block of some of New South Wales’ best trails.

Words: Richie Tyler
Photography: Tim Bardsley-Smith and Flow Mountain Bike

The sound of the alarm at 4:15am was a bit of a shock. Having picked accomodation conveniently situated close the start points of the opening 3 stages, we faced a slightly longer drive to meet the punctual 6am shuttle buses that provide riders the convenience of meeting their cars at the finish line and a lift to the start.

We were rewarded for the early start with an epic Autumnal sunrise over the Belmont Golf Club. The pastel backdrop augured well for the final day of racing, which saw over 1,000 riders line up for the start. For a good contingent, the 40km dash northwards to Merewether beach would be their first and only appearance at the race, as they took advantage of Port to Port’s unique format which allows for single, multi-day or four-stage participation. If you’re tempted to take part next year: do it, even if for just a day.

Starting metres away from the club house, wave after wave of riders locked out their suspension, clicked in and bolted across the 18th fairway. Organisers had removed the somewhat controversial beach sections of the course in response to rider feedback; replacing it instead with an opening 10km stretch of tarmac, bike paths and smooth tracks. For those still harbouring ambitions to improve their GC placing, it provided a perfect platform for positioning before the single track at Redhead.

While Thomas and I had largely been riding our own race, our efforts on Stage 3 had helped us move up some 20 positions on GC. The sense that we were getting stronger each day proved out, and we settled into a faster group at the head of our start wave.

With three days sharpening my skills, the single track at Redhead really felt like racing as we powered up the short climbs before bombing down through the bush. They layout of Redhead mean that sectors skirt one another in such a way that at times you felt surrounded in all directions by riders ducking and weaving their way through the sinewy trails. It was one of the highlights of the whole race.

Eventually we emerged back onto tarmac, but only to deliver us to the transition to the Glenrock trails.  With the kilometres steadily ticking away, I broke my gel fast with 10km to go, keen to finish strongly. Had it not been for the sugar hit, the view over Glenrock lagoon just might have done enough. After an hour an a half shrouded by the bush the combination of sky and sea that opened up quickly before us was a startling reminder that the finish was getting close.

With a few final spurts of bermed single track we popped out for a final, fast descent into the finish. There, the ocean lapping at Merewether beach was mirrored by a sea of riders and bikes splayed out on the grass, most of whom were themselves lapping up a well-earned beer. As the finishing banner proudly stated: “Good times rolling”. No arguments here.

Strava file: https://www.strava.com/activities/2397420244

Bidons/Litres consumed: 2 (1 each), 1.4 litres
Gels consumed: 2Burgers consumed (post-stage): 2
Rouge Brewing Pale Ales consumed: 2 (delicious!)
Punctures: 0

Distance: 39.34km
Metres climbed: 540m officially, 751m corrected 🤷🏽‍♂️

Stage results

Stage winners (Men)

  1. Ward Bros (Kyle and Jayden Ward)
  2. Giant Australia Offroad Team (Brendan Johnston and Jon Odams)
  3. Trek Shimano Australia (Ben Bradley and Alex Lack)

Stage winners (Women)

  1. Sam N Kate (Kate McIlroy and Samara Sheppard)
  2. Specialized Shimano (Sarah Tucknott and Briony Mattocks)
  3. Trek Shimano Australia (Meghan Stanton and Zoe Cuthbert)

Solo stage winners (Men)

  1. Ben Mather
  2. Mitch Lozinski
  3. Adam Hartley

Solo stage winners (Women)

  1. Cristy Henderson
  2. Kate Fluker
  3. Josie Wilcox

Final GC

Teams (Men)

  1. Giant Australia Offroad Team (Brendan Johnston and Jon Odams)
  2. Trek Shimano Australia (Ben Bradley and Alex Lack)
  3. Ward Bros (Kyle and Jayden Ward)

Teams (Women)

  1. Sam N Kate (Kate McIlroy and Samara Sheppard)
  2. Specialized Shimano (Sarah Tucknott and Briony Mattocks)
  3. Trek Shimano Australia (Meghan Stanton and Zoe Cuthbert)

Solo (Men)

  1. Ben Mather
  2. Mitch Lozinski
  3. Adam Hartley

Solo (Women)

  1. Cristy Henderson
  2. Josie Wilcox
  3. Kate Fluker

Full results here.

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