Top three riders separated by 4sec in Epic race finish

Ethan Rose, of Coalgate, rides to seventh place in the 95km Contact Epic Classic race on Saturday...
Ethan Rose, of Coalgate, rides to seventh place in the 95km Contact Epic Classic race on Saturday. Photo: Sean Nugent
Snow-capped mountains, a glassy Lake Hawea and clear blue skies greeted  more than 700 mountain bike riders when they arrived to compete in the Contact Epic around the lake on Saturday.

Riders chose from  four events: the 160km Centurion, 125km Epic, 95km Classic and the 35km Traverse.

Race organiser Danielle Nicholson said it was an "amazing day".

The race of the day was the Classic, where the top three riders were split by just four seconds at the finish after they raced for nearly four and a-half hours.

Sixteen-year-old Archie Martinovich, of Christchurch, won the battle, crossing the finish line in 4hr 20min 46sec, beating  Dunedin pair Jeremy Forlong and Andrew Fraser.

"It was very closely fought. We couldn’t tell who was in the lead at various times."

Ms Nicholson said Martinovich showed great sportsmanship before his event,  scrapping his own race preparation as he helped change a tyre for a woman who had  a puncture on the start line.

"It’s great to see a kid like that in our sport," Ms Nicholson said.

Clinton’s Jo McKenzie won the women’s title in 5hr 28min 34sec, followed by Kara Wandless of Invercargill and Shelley Alexander of Hawea Flat.

In the Epic, Oamaru’s Tim Rush beat home three-times champion Dougal Allan, of Wanaka, in 4hr 38min 49sec. Rush’s brother Kris  was  third.

In the women’s event, Wanaka’s Simone Maier beat  seven-times champion Kath Kelly, of Roxburgh, crossing the line in  5hr 29min 37sec. Auckland’s Harriet Beaven was  third.

Alexandra’s Mike Sangster won the gruelling 160km Centurion race in  6hr 43min 26sec.

Mark Williams, of Queenstown, was second ahead of John Mezger, of Wanaka.

Ronel Cook, of Dunedin, won the women’s 160km race  in 8hr 17min 06sec, ahead of Cromwell’s Teresa Noble and Christchurch’s Hannah Johnston.

Finally in the shortest race, the Traverse, Mitch Tawera, of Wanaka, defended the men’s title in 1hr 20min 09sec, followed by Tane Tawera, of Wanaka, and Jamie Henderson, of Christchurch.

Kim Cadzow (16), of Tauranga, won the women’s race in 1hr 31min 43sec ahead of Kaiapoi’s Sjaan Lykles and Christchurch’s Jane McDonald.

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