First Pioneers aim to retain biking title
Queenstown mountain bikers Mark Williams and Kate Fluker have set themselves up to retain their Pioneer title as Open Mixed champs with a 25-minute lead over their closest rivals after the second stage.
Fluker and Williams won the open mixed category in last year’s inaugural race but are facing strong competition from American/Canadian team Freakshow, of Sonya Looney and Gordon Wadsworth.
However, Wadsworth crashed on Monday all but wrecking his rear rim.
Looney said that was the nature of racing.
‘‘There was a humungous rock, bigger than our heads, somehow it came loose and Gordon hit it and did a flip in the air and thank goodness he is okay but the rim just folded over.‘‘
Williams said he knew that their main opposition was in trouble.
‘‘That is stage racing though, their misfortune was to our advantage today, tomorrow it could be different.’’
The drama happened over stage two of The Pioneer as the Mountain Bike Stage race took the 338 riders over the 106km course from Geraldine to Fairlie.
Line honours were contested by three teams in a sprint finish, with the win going to Imparables riders Ibon Zugasi and Tommi Misser (ESP) as they nudged out Kiwis James Williamson and Scott Lyttle (Watson and Son Manuka Honey), with Oamaru brothers Tim and Kris Rush (Alps to Ocean) right on their wheel after just over four and a half hours of hard riding.
In winning the stage the Spaniards extend their considerable lead in the Masters 40+ category, while Williamson and Lyttle extended a further 41 seconds on the Rush brothers in the Men’s Open category.
Other Queenstown riders doing well after stage two included Erin Greene sitting in second place with teammate Ingrid Richter in the open women’s category and Suze Hansen sitting in second place in the women masters section of the four-day traverse.
The event concludes at the Queenstown Events Centre on Saturday after riders complete 59km from the Snow Farm.
There will be food, drink, merchandise, music and lots of emotions as riders finish between 11am and 3pm.
Queenstown’s Kate Fluker and Mark Williams winning stage two of the Open Mixed category in the Pioneer Mountain Bike race.