A stellar line-up including Olympians, Australian mountain bike champions and local heroes will guarantee one of the most competitive Tathra Beach & Bike Enduro ever.
Organisers predict some of the toughest racing yet, with young guns looking to usurp their seasoned rivals in the main events.
Over 350 riders have so far entered the Enduro, which features five mountain bike events over two days. Racing starts on Saturday afternoon at the Tathra Country Club with the Bega Cheese Children’s Challenge and the Lap-It Up events. On Sunday riders mount up for the Tuff 25km, Mitas 50km and King Nelba 75km, which will be contested in the forests around Tathra.
Enduro co-ordinator Stacey George is pleased with the number of entrants, given the hardships after the March bushfires.
“You are never sure, how news like the bushfires will affect an event like ours,” says George. “But so far numbers are up on last year, which is encouraging for everyone who has worked so hard to rebuild the trails.
“In fact, I think the tracks have never been better. They are so smooth clean and fast – it’s going to lay the platform for some incredible racing.”
George says the tightest racing will be in the men’s and women’s Mitas 50km events – where fields contain a fleet of junior Australian MTB champions hoping to unseat the old guard.
Incredibly junior riders who were in the Bega Cheese Kids events less than eight years ago are now world junior championship hopefuls.
“It’s amazing to think that local riders like Sebastian Weber and Charlie Todd, Canberra’s Zoe Cuthbert and Declan Inglis, and Sydney’s Dylan George all started their racing on 24 inch bikes in the Children’s Chase.”
On Sunday they will show how far they have come.
Weber, after placing second overall for the past two years, will be looking to triumph in the men’s Mitas 50km. But it’s a tough ask with defending champion Ben Henderson and 2016 winner Toby Stewart.
His junior rivals include former Australian age champions Todd and Dylan George, Moruya speedster Jack McFarlane and Canberra’s Cory Smith.
Smith has just back from a stint racing in Japan and vying for Australian world championship selection.
“It’s going to be one of the biggest and most competitive fields yet,” predicts Todd of the men’s Mitas 50km.
“I think there will be five juniors in the top ten placings. Stewart and Henderson are also very experienced and have had success on this course, so you can never underestimate them.”.
The women’s Mitas 50km will be no less intriguing with Australian Junior champion Zoe Cuthbert taking on mentor and renown racer Eliza Smyth.
Meanwhile top billing in the King Nelba 75km goes to former Enduro champion and Olympian Andy Blair.
Online entries close Friday, but you can register in person on both days.
For events schedules and registration details visit www.tathramtbclub.com.