Wanaka’s Dougal Allen made it look easy as he crossed the finish line when he won the Tour de Wakatipu title setting a new record of 1.31.40, the same weekend that some of the best mountain bikers congregated on Queenstown for the Teva Slopestyle, New Zealand.
Benny Phillips takes 1st Place in the Teva Slopestyle
The three hours of thrills and spills as the 20 riders performed stylish tricks and got massive air off the jumps in Ballarat Street car park were watched and cheered on by a crowd of 3,000. Benny Phillips, the 20-year old crowd favourite, surprised everyone with a stylish double back flip and had this to say about the event. “The course was sick. The crowd was wild and I definitely couldn’t have done it without them. I’m just so keen to see where this can go in the future because it is just going to get bigger and better. I did a double flip in my second run which I’m pretty happy about. I put together a couple of good runs and I’m stoked. Thanks to everybody who came down, Teva for putting this on, and Kelly McGarry and Tom Hey for building such a sick course.”
The double backflip
On Saturday, 7th April, 690 people entered the Tour de Wakatipu which was a key event in the annual Queenstown Bike Festival and was being run for its fourth consecutive year. The idea for this race came from the desire to have a fun challenging mountain bike event set in the Wakatipu Basin that links two rivers and two lakes, as well as using some of the new tracks developed by the Wakatipu Trails Trust. The event, which caters for elite, sport and recreational mountain bikers, started at Millbrook Resort and followed 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 Allan very much dominated the race throughout. “I felt pretty relaxed the whole race,” he said, “but I still managed to take a wrong turn on a single track after the bridge.” He said that, while he found the course relatively easy, he could see why it attracted such a wide spread field of athletes and recreational bikers. “The course is actually very varied with riding on flats, single tracks, crossing creeks, and along the river. And I loved the great atmosphere at the finish with the live music .”
Matt Randall (Invercargill) took second place with more than a minute behind Allan in 1.32.47, very closely followed by a second by Brent Miller (Christchurch) in third place in 1.32.48. National women’s mountain biking champion Kate Fluker (Dunedin) was on fire to win the elite women’s open title in 1.48.05, and was comfortably in front of her next competition Harriet Miller (Queenstown) who claimed second place in 1.54.03.
New World owner John Thompson who competed in the race for the fourth time in the sports section says the Tour de Wakatipu has become a highlight on the Queenstown mountain biking calendar and that he is very pleased to be behind this successful event. “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 and the weather this year was just perfect.”
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 $2,000 will be donated to the Wakatipu Trails Trust through the sale of beverages at the finish line.