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Andy Blair and other racers at the Ingekerre MTB stage race
Australian mountain bike stage race happens next week
The five-day, seven-stage Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro is set to heat up the mountain bike trails of Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory in Australia during next week, from Monday, May 13 to Friday, May 17.
In the men's category, Andy Blair returns for a third year to defend his 2011 and 2012 Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro titles. The 2012 Australian Marathon National Champion will have some tightly fought stages to contest as he goes head-to-head with 2010 Austrlian Marathon National Champion Ben Mather, who also has an Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro title to his name (2010).
South Australian Ben Hogarth is looking to redeem his second place to Blair in 2012. Hogarth will no doubt provide some strong competition to both Blair and Mather after placing eighth at the Oceania Cross Country Championships last year.
The women's field will be equally as strong and should provide some quality racing amongst some of Australia's top female mountain bikers, despite the absence of defending champion Melissa Anset.
Tasmanian Rowena Fry has adjusted her focus back to the mountain bike after a year on the road with Orica-GreenEdge-AIS. The six-time National Champion across short track, cross country and marathon racing will have her work cut out for her with Swell-Specialized team rider Jenny Fay, and the 2012 Australian Cross Country National Champion Jenni King hot on her tail.
Local rider Jess Harries of Alice Springs is also expected to be amongst the top female contenders after a respectable performance in 2012.
Race participation numbers are 15 percent higher than in 2012, with many riders returning to the event
Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro
Monday, May 13: Stage 1 - 42km
Monday, May 13: Stage 2 - 300m Hill Climb
Tuesday, May 14: Stage 3 - 49km
Wednesday, May 15: Stage 4 - 88km
Thursday, May 16: Stage 5 - 23km Individual Time Trial
Thursday, May 16: Stage 6 - 23km Night Race
Friday, May 17, Stage 7 - 40km
For more information on the race, visit www.ICME.com.au.