The fourth annual Queenstown Bike Festival got underway yesterday with French Enduro Word Series (EWS) riders Rémy Absalon and Fabien Barel mixing it with the Wakatipu’s best in the Vertigo Bikes Super D Enduro.

Men's solo winner Jimmy Pollard enters the pits area
Men’s solo winner Jimmy Pollard enters the pits area

After six hours continuous lapping of a purpose-built track in Queenstown Bike Park, Queenstown’s Jimmy Pollard took the men’s open title completing 16 laps. Pollard is clearly in impressive form ahead of the first leg of EWS 2015 in Rotorua later this month. Mandy Horan, also from Queenstown and competing in the women’s veteran category, completed 12 laps. This was the most of any solo woman and one more than Kylie Parks who headed the women’s open category.

Team Frog & Kiwi - 3rd placed 2-men team

James Shirley (GBR) and Dan Wolfe (IRE) won the two-man team category completing 17 laps. Both are also due to compete in Rotorua. Vertigo Bike’s three-man team of Jonny Congreve, Rowan Saunders and John Stout backed up their event sponsorship by winning the three-man category also with 17 laps completed.

James Shirley 1st 2-man team (with Dan Wolfe)
James Shirley 1st 2-man team (with Dan Wolfe)

The only women’s team entered, local crew ‘Dirt Town Queens’ (Amy Ballagh, Rosie Smith and Ronnie Baker), completed 14 laps while ‘Greene Eggs & Lamb’ (Erin Greene and Thomas Lamb) repeated their 2014 victory as a mixed team by completing 16 laps in the quickest time ahead of their individual EWS appearances. The marathon event is New Zealand’s only gondola-assisted enduro race. The exact course was kept secret until the night before in fairness to all entrants. Final results were kept a surprise until prize giving during the after-party at Surreal Bar.

Dirt Town Queens - winning 3-women team
Dirt Town Queens – winning 3-women team

The track, described by event manager Jimmy Carling as “varied, fresh and challenging – similar to last year but not the same”, descended from the top of Hammy’s Track to the old Man Street campground with a few uphill sections to test both downhillers and cross-country riders. The Skyline gondola took competitors back up to the start line for each new lap.

Works team riders Rémy Absalon and Pierre-Charles Georges of the SCOTT SR Suntour Enduro plus Fabien Barel of Canyon Factory Enduro used the opportunity to complete a few competitive laps on Queenstown’s world famous terrain as a warm up for EWS Round 1. Absalon finished fourth overall in the global 2013 series and 13th last year with five top 15 finishes.

Remy Absalon

Barel, a three-time downhill world champion, only arrived in Queenstown the night before the Super D Enduro. He said he entered for a bit of fun and an opportunity to get a feel for the terrain.

Fabien Barel and THAT view
Fabien Barel and THAT view

“It’s my first time in Queenstown and I’m definitely impressed. I’m super happy to be here and it’s always great to be able to meet new people and discover new cultures – New Zealand is definitely one of the best locations as a mountain biker,” he said.

Full results are available on the Queenstown Bike Festival’s website

A video edit will be available to watch on the festival’s YouTube channel soon.
A video edit will be available to watch on the festival’s YouTube channel soon.

The 2015 Queenstown Bike Festival continued today (Sunday) with the Veolia Kids Mini X on Arrowtown’s Butlers Green and the Crown Range Ride from Arrowtown to the top of New Zealand’s highest public highway. Monday’s programme includes the Girl’s Only Coffee Ride and a night-time MTB ride organised by Torpedo7.

Words: Samuel White – White Ink Communications Photos: Callum Wood

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