Racing Underway at Reef to Reef

17 August 2023

Racing is underway at the Reef to Reef mountain bike stage race, with riders taking on the world-famous trails of Smithfield for stage one of the 2023 event.

Riders taking part in the four-day event were treated to more than 16km of single-trail to blow out the cobwebs and find their groove. 

Joel Green and Tali Lane Welsh were the quickest men’s pair over the opening stage, crossing the finish line in 51:03, more than three minutes clear of Cameron Wright and Aden De Jager, with Lachlan Allison and Benjamin Iles a further two minutes behind in third. 

Making Green and Lane Welsh’s opening stage win all the more impressive is the fact that neither had raced Reef to Reef before, with the pair taking in the trails for the first time.

Green said that the pair pushed hard early to try and open up a lead on the chasing pack. 

“We went out really, really hard and I’m not going to lie, I was hurting and wishing for a bit of downhill towards the start but we regrouped after the first big climb and brought it home strong,” said Green. “We’ve just come back from Scotland riding some similar stuff, just wet, the trails we’re so much fun today.”

For Lane Welsh not only was Thursday’s opening stage his first time riding in Tropical North Queensland it was his first visit to the region. 

“We’re loving it, we did Cape to Cape last year so we’ve done one of these races before but I’ve never been up to Cairns before so it’s been a super good first impression,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect going into the first stage, we knew we were in good form coming from the World Championships last week so we just decided to race it like any other race, we had a few bike issues but other than that it was as good as we could have hoped, roll on stage two.” 

Defending mixed pair champions Emma Viotto and Karl Michelin-Beard picked up where they left off in 2022, with the pair finishing day one with a more than five minute lead over Emily Hill and Michael Denton, with Kirsty McCallum and Max Williams rounding out the podium.

“It was fun, it was hot, it was a good ride out there today, it’s good to be up here in this weather. I think Karl had his work cut out for him today pushing me up the hill this time but it was a lot of fun,” said Viotto. “The descents were worth it, I just kept on thinking that they were coming, they were coming.”

Michelin-Beard said that the pair worked well together to come through traffic early in the stage. 

“Starting behind the open women we knew we’d have to ride through a few people but everyone was super courteous, no one got in our way and they were all encouraging as well,” he said. “It’s one of those courses where you really need to pace yourself, there’s a lot of hills early on so it’s really easy to blow, especially as the male in a mixed pair, the climbs are on fire roads and the thought is always to just push as hard as you can and wreck yourself so pacing is so important on that course.”

In the women’s pairs Meaghan Stanton and Zoe Binder blew the competition away, crossing the line more than 12 minutes ahead of Kathryn Deed and Alex Hall, with Karis Aplin and Dunnage third.

Stanton and Binder hit the lead early and push ahead from there, steadily opening up their lead across the 16km course to start their Reef to Reef campaign in the best way possible.

On Friday the action heads onto the Tablelands and Davies Creek Mountain Bike Park, with almost 40km of riding and some of the best single track around. The third day of racing will see the event head to Mount Molloy, with riders taking in some incredible rainforest trails.

The final day of the event also features the famous Triple-R with riders starting in Mount Molloy before heading down the Bump Track before finishing on Four Mile Beach in front of the Port Douglas Surf Club.

Reef to Reef is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

Reef to Reef – Stage 1 Results

Men’s Pairs

  1. Commtel Coast Off Road – Joel Green & Tali Lane Welsh – 51:03
  2. Insert Team Name Here – Cameron Wright & Aden De Jager – 54:30
  3. LaBiles – Lachlan Allison & Benjamin Iles- 56:28

 Mixed Pairs

  1. Shimano MyRide - Emma Viotto & Karl Michelin-Beard – 1:02:15
  2. Salt Shakes – Emily Hill & Michael Denton - 1:07:25
  3. #SparkThatChat – Kirsty McCallum & Max Williams - 1:08:05

 Women’s Pairs

  1. Trek Shimano Australia – Meaghan Stanton & Zoe Binder - 1:08:08
  2. Kath and Al – Kathryn Deed & Alex Hall - 1:20:26
  3. Western Reefers – Karis Aplin & Sarah Dunnage - 1:31:16