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.

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