Australian Mountain Bike - - Fast Track - rap­i­das­

At the end of win­ter, about 200 rid­ers con­verged in Aus­tralia’s red cen­tre to race The Redback, a six-stage, four-day race in Alice Springs. Alice boasts some of Aus­tralia’s most spec­tac­u­lar sin­gle­track, with hundreds of kilo­me­tres of trails snaking through the desert land­scapes around town. With so much trail to choose from, the event of­fers a lot of va­ri­ety, and stages take on a bunch of for­mats, in­clud­ing an in­di­vid­ual hill-climb TT with rowdy spec­ta­tors, a longer ITT, a night race, and plenty of XC stages to take in the won­ders of Alice’s desert sur­rounds.

With each stage based out of Alice Springs, lo­gis­tics are sim­ple, with no need for a hire car. At this year’s Redback, many rid­ers set up at the event base, the Mer­cure Alice Springs Re­sort, where they could hang out in the pool in be­tween stages and catch up on the day’s rac­ing. In late Au­gust, Alice is al­ready start­ing to warm up, and while winds kept tem­per­a­tures in the mid-20s for a few days, there were still a couple of scorchers around the event, pro­vid­ing a wel­come relief for south­ern­ers es­cap­ing the worst of win­ter, and an ex­cel­lent ex­cuse for a few bev­er­ages be­tween races.

Can­ber­ran Ben Hen­der­son took out the event over lo­cal boy Ben Goo­ley in sec­ond and Darwin’s Chris Han­son in third. In the women’s race, Imo­gen Smith from Bris­bane bested Kim Wil­locks from Mel­bourne, with Zoe Cuth­bert of Can­berra in third.

Plan­ning for next year’s race is al­ready well un­der­way, with the event locked in for 23-26 Au­gust.

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