Sport’s growth reflected in race

Men’s winner Josh McCombie, of Dunedin, shows how it’s done at Signal Hill in the 3 Peaks Enduro...
Men’s winner Josh McCombie, of Dunedin, shows how it’s done at Signal Hill in the 3 Peaks Enduro mountain bike race. Photo: Jemma Wells
The 3 Peaks Enduro event continues to  go from strength to strength. There were 270 riders in the  weekend race which was split up into eight special stages over the two days.

Organiser Kashi Leuchs said the  3 Peaks was the first enduro to begin the season and had grown in popularity.  It was the largest field for the event, which started seven years ago.

It had a relaxed feeling to it while still a competitive event, and many riders came from all round the country to compete. The stages were highly technical and over tough terrain which favoured those riders who gave it their all.

Enduro racing was now the most popular form of competitive mountain biking, Leuchs said. Downhill and cross-country were for the experts but enduro racing was for everyone.

Enduro racing involved anywhere from three to eight timed stages. The timed portions of the race are mostly downhill but can vary in steepness, length, and difficulty depending on location. Between each stage, there will be untimed transfer stages that are mostly uphill, so riders can take their time going from stage to stage and then just put all their energy into the downhill times stages. The times stages may add up to little more than 30 minutes but riders may be on bikes for more than four hours.

The 3 Peaks enduro was split into two categories: a challenge event of five stages, mainly for those new to the sport and then a classic event, made up of eight stages spread over the two days. The majority of riders competed in the classic event.

Conditions were tough with the wet weather of the past month making it difficult in same part of the course.

The winner of the men’s grade was Josh McCombie, of Dunedin, who was something of a surprise winner. But he was consistent throughout and rode above himself to win, with some good riding on the final day on Sunday at Signal Hill. He finished in front of Charlie Murray, of Wanaka, by just 15 seconds while South African Matt Lombard was another 13sec back.

Former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Anton Cooper finished in sixth place.

The women’s race was won by Jenna Makgill, of Auckland who was more than  4min  clear of Melissa Newall, of Wanaka.Oceania downhill champion Sam Blenkinsop was down the rankings after an unfortunate start. He broke his chain on the opening stage so had to run back up the track to get it fixed as the race clock continued. He rode back down the hill again but his time had ballooned out by 30min leaving him with no chance of being in the money.

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