Johnston & Odams Pair Up

30 July 2018

Australian MTB superstar Brendan Johnston has teamed up with GIANT team mate, the super strong Sydney rider Jon Odams, to launch their attack on the inaugural four day Reef to Reef MTB stage race in Tropical North Queensland.

Reef to Reef (9-12 August) is the culmination of more than 18 months planning and preparation, working closely with Tourism and Events Queensland, Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Cairns Regional Council, Douglas Shire Council, Mareeba Shire Council, and with the support of the Cairns MTB Club, the Mareeba Mountain Goats and the local community.

Johnston and Odams will race in the teams or ‘pairs’ competition of Reef to Reef which will be the first multi-day MTB event in Australia to feature this format and offer qualification into the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa, the unofficial World Championship of multi day MTB races.

Fresh from his win at Port to Port and having suffered through a chilly winter in his home town of Canberra, Johnston is looking forward to thawing out in Tropical North Queensland, tackling the new format and making his Reef to Reef debut.

“Port to Port certainly had a good end. It was an unexpected result and pulling it off was good for the confidence. Since then I have been getting in plenty of training and managed to keep going through the winter which is tough at times but I am feeling pretty good. I did a road race in Nowra which is part of the NSW Series and I won that against some pretty good guys so I was pretty pleased with that.”

“I haven’t done much team racing on a MTB, so it will be interesting. It is all about being aware of your team mate and at Reef to Reef we are going to have to finish within two minutes of each other. The benefits are in finishing together and you have to be mindful of that. If the stronger guys is always pushing the slower guy it is not going to be the best outcome.”

“At the moment I am gearing up to ride with Jon Odams at Reef to Reef and I will try and train through it a bit in preparation for Cape to Cape later on. John was fifth in the GC at Port to Port and his strength is the single track and skills side of things but he has also gotten pretty strong over the last couple of years. My strength is the climbs and fitness side of things so hopefully I can hang onto him in the single track and each of us can bring our strengths to the table. I think we will make a good team for Reef to Reef.”

Johnston said it is great to have another four day MTB stage race on the Australian calendar and with the pairs format at Reef to Reef it is going to be exciting and challenging.

“I am pretty fortunate to do all three, Port to Port, Reef to Reef and Cape to Cape and over the years I am certain we will see more and more doing Reef to Reef, so then we will have a year round battle which is pretty great for the sport of mountain biking.”

“I have had a brief look at the Reef to Reef course and all the stages. I did Crocodile Trophy in 2015 so I have ridden a bit of the course before. I did Wetherby station, down the bump track and along the beach so I kind of know the area. But that bump track is wild. I did it as a time trial stage and it was insane. The speed is incredible.”

“The four day event, with the Triple R included, is going to be a great week. Having said that everyone should ride the Triple R at some stage, it is an amazing course. I know everyone down south is looking forward to heading north and it is going to be awesome in the middle of winter. To be honest I am just looking forward to a week in Cairns. Down here in Canberra the other day it was minus nine in training. It was cold,” he said.

Brendan is hoping the experience of racing at Reef to Reef will give him valuable insight into all the physical and logistical factors vital to put together a competitive unit to challenge the world’s best riders at Cape Epic next March.

“Cam Ivory and I are going to do Cape Epic together next year so I am going to use Reef to Reef to gain experience in the dynamics of riding with another rider for multiple days.”

“Cape Epic is a bit of a goal for us both and we will try and do some training together over the summer to fine tune ourselves. it is the biggest race in the world for MTB in terms of the attention it gets and the stages are brutal. It is big stages and eight days, so it is the pinnacle of stage racing. No Australians have gone well over there before, so we are eyeing off a top five or top ten which would be awesome,” he said.