The Anzac Hill individual time trial stage is one of the classic challenges of the ICME. It is a 300m full-bore effort up a bitumen climb in the centre of Alice Springs. It always has a really fun atmosphere with all the competitors from the event out to test themselves and to cheer each other on. With the riders leaving the start house at 30 second intervals in reverse GC order, the times gradually come down along with the sun and the excitement builds. It is also such a different stage to the others that it often yields a surprise winner.
In the women’s event, it was Kelly Bartlet who was first to lay down a serious time of 1:10. Local girl Jess Harries followed and came close with a 1:12. Terri Rhodes and Nienke Oostra were next to stop the clock but both fell short of the hotseat sitter Bartlet and at that point there were only three more girls to go. National marathon champion Jenny King stormed up the hill and dislodged Kelly with a 1:07. Jenny Fay pulled a foot on the start line and managed to compose herself enough to record time that was only a fraction of a second slower the King. Rowena Fry was the last to go and when she left the start house she was flying! She looked so aggressive that I thought she might blow up before the top….but she didn’t. Instead she stopped the clock with a 54sec ride that smashed the course record. Top effort!
In the boys, I was a bit busy warming up to really soak up the theatre as it unfolded, but I got to see the last few riders as I waited in the start pen. Last year’s stage winner and Adelaide strong man Ben Hogarth clocked a 45 second run and took the hotseat with three of us left to go. The course record holder Ben Mather was next but he had a mechanical problem and could only manage a 48 second run. I say “only” because he holds the course record with an outrageous 42 seconds. Second last to go was my team mate Shaun, but I was off before I got to hear his result. After a 300m blur, I arrived at the top breathing though my arse and wanting to spew, but was stoked to hear the news that I had narrowly beaten the time set by Ben H and taken the stage.
It was a great first day for the Swell-Specialized team with Shaun and Jenny both hanging on to their 2nd place positions on GC. Tomorrow’s Lasseters Hotel Casino Stage 3 is another great stage with plenty of nice single track. Off to bed now!