Nothin' to do but hit the dirt

Three former riders of the Belgium-based Team found themselves on the same parcours...

Road riders found lurking at MTB race

Three former riders of the Belgium-based Team found themselves on the same parcours last weekend, but this time it was the heat and dust of an eight-hour endurance MTB race in Lithgow, 150km west of Sydney, Australia. Gerard Knapp caught up with the trio to find out why they were there.

Nathan 'Chookman' Russell, Cody Stevenson and Josh Fleming were all racing in the first round of the RaceTech Working Week Series of endurance events held throughout NSW. For Fleming, it's not such a surprise given his credentials as a mountain bike racer - he's part of Australia's MTB squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games - but it was a first-time experience for both Russell and Stevenson. Further, neither of the former team-mates knew they'd be racing in the same event - so much for any secret training.

And how did these experienced roadies find it? Well, harder than they thought it would be, particularly for Russell and Stevenson, who raced in the 'solo' category. But still, Stevenson finished sixth in the hardest men's group, while 'Chookman' came in 10th.

Ironically, the more experienced MTB rider - Fleming - teamed up with Ken McMillan and Julien Redmond to take out first place in the 'mixed three' category. Fleming said he used the event as a kind of interval training; this approach was confirmed by his 'lap' times - he knocked off each technical, 11km circuit in 32 minutes and took a break while his two team-mates rode their laps before returning to ride another 32-minute circuit. By comparison, the fastest lap time of the solo male category winner - Dennis van Mill - was over 35 minutes (see full results).

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