Night-time stage challenges TransWales racers

Covre wins women's stage by just eight seconds

Today was the day that the combined firepower of thousands of lumens of lighting was unleashed on an unassuming Welsh hillside. A night-time special stage took riders all out for 3km up straight up and 3km straight down over the fast singletrack that is Cwm Rhaiadr.

But before the riders faced the darkness, there was the small matter of the 76km and 2,100m of climbing that would take the riders from Cwymystwyth to Cilycm. Despite the distance - compounded by the three long days in the saddle previously - the linking stage took in some of the finest trails of the race thus far, with descents that lasted mile after mile and just kept on giving. For some, this was paradise, whilst for others the toll of three tough days in the saddle together with two special stages made staying on line and on course harder than usual. But all wore grins, howsoever weary, and come the end of the day, all would be over halfway through the event.

Riders left the picturesque campsite at Blaenycwm at the foot of yesterday's final descent near Cwmystwyth at 9:00 am and, after a brief spin down the valley, struck across the river and onto rocky double track that hitched up into woodland and eventually climbed up towards the picturesque Teifi Lakes. Then came the long, rugged descent from the top of the Bryn Llyn Egnant at around 480m, with its snaking single and doubletrack that continuously dropped away across river crossings and carving singletrack. The fast and picturesque trail was merely the warmup act to the headline trail of the entire event so far. Next on the billing, following a quick drinks stop outside the ruins of the Strata Florida abbey, was the snaking valley of river crossings hidden in the midst of the Tywi Forest.

Amidst dense rock gardens and huge slabs the trail fled down stream with riders carving lines between the rocky debris and flowing water - sometimes up and over small waterfall steps - while the trail criss-crossed the river, shadowing the water's descent further towards the Llyn Brianne Reservoir and, at one point, merging with the river.

Then came paradise. It was time for the headline trail to be unleashed on the riders. It was time for the Afon Doethie valley descent, a 5km trail that swept the riders along its sinuous length, inspiring tired legs as they spun through the clefts and folds of the contours, seemingly endlessly onwards towards an ever increasing serotonin payoff. It's a flowing, undulating singletrack descent wrought from Heaven that flits high above the Afon Doethie river below and gradually, seamlessly makes its angelic way to Nant y Bai below on singletrack that averages about 6 inches in width. For weary legs and minds the effort of keeping the bike on line and not fish tailing on the greasy sections proved too much and offs were plentiful. But for the committed rider (and those with tenacious tyres) the trail was divine.

Finally the riders hit the tarmac for a gentle spin towards civilisation and the day's end at Cilycm, although some riders got sidetracked by a cool pint at the local pub and found the last kilometre to the finish line harder than usual. The inebriated few arrived just in time to catch the BBC doing a live broadcast from the event, including interviews with riders, and the weather forecast for Wales.

But come 9:00 pm and the night special stage saw the first rider, Jonathan Pugh, the current leader of the men's solo category, sprint from the start gate and up, up, up the long and twisty fire road climb. Around 10 minutes up, the fire track gives way to steep singletrack climbing before finally summiting and forcing the riders to stare down the barrel of a 3km singletrack super gun. Having practiced here recently, it would take an incredible ride from Josh Ibbett (IronHorse-Extreme) to upset Pugh's home advantage. Pugh proved 50 seconds faster than Ibbett on the stage, who in turn was two seconds quicker than Jon Bowie (TriSmart).

For Kenya's Nickson Mwaura, this would be the first time he has tackled trails at night - let alone at racing pace - however, Nickson found his groove and put in a time of 23 minutes and 37secs - good enough to claim 11th on the night, just over four minutes adrift of first place.

"I'm learning all the time," he said before hitting the start line, "and I like the climbs so we shall see." After a tough day out on the linking stage where he suffered a twisted ankle and struggled with the final descent, his night stage performance was a stark contrast and good enough to see him move up from 27th to 19th in the overall classification.

Elsewhere, all eyes were on the women's solo category, inw hich the top two riders, Marika Covre (Ideal - Vivibike) and Rickie Justine Cotter (Cytek) have been duelling it out and swapping stage wins and the overall lead. With Covre the stronger climber and Cotter the better descender - save for mechanicals or punctures, which Cwm Rhaiadr is notorious for - it was going to come down to who had the superior night riding skills. In the end, Covre put in a phenomenal climb that would allowed her to hold off Cotter's rocket-like descending to the finish line to take the stage win by just eight seconds.

The closest gap in the overall classification prior to the night time special stage currently belonged to the men's team category, which saw the pairing of Dan Lewis and Neil Richardson (Royal Air Force CA) leading Andy Jones and Ben Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC) by just 36 seconds. However, the RAF pairing extended their lead by 52 seconds following a scorching performance on the Cwm Rhaiadr trail.

In the solo veteran men's category Gareth Bowyer (Ffasiynau Anabelle Fashions) was eyeing up putting some time into the current category leader, Steve Heading (Whyte Racing) who was, at the start of today, 1:14 ahead. However Heading's endurance and experience is truly beginning to show as he extended his lead by 1min 15secs by pummelling the trail into submission in a time of 20:55, good enough to place him in fourth in the open men's category.

The Italian stallions of Fulvio Damian and Elvo Del Puppo (Ideal - ViviBike) have been leading the veteran men's team since the first special stage, and have been enjoying an 11minute lead over second placed rivals David Rielly and Steve Partington (Isle of Man Fire Service). Come the darkness of the night stage, they turned their canter into a trot as they took the win by a clear minute over second placed Rielly & Partington. They now lead by over 17 minutes in the overall classification - the largest margin in the race.

In the mixed team category Maddie and Jay Horton (Team Certini) looked to extend their winning streak to three in a row over second placed rivals, Fi Spotswood and Michael Tomlinson (South Fork Racing). However Spotswood and Tomlinson had other ideas and, despite Spotswood saying later that she, "couldn't find the flow on the descent," and rode "safe to finish", the South Fork Racing pair did enough to take the stage win over the Hortons by a clear 30 seconds. That helped close the gap in the GC, but they still need to pull back two and a half minutes. With the final special stage tomorrow on Brechfa forest, a trail that Spotswood won on last year, it's certainly possible, although the Horton's will be revved up to fully reassert their authority on the final and deciding special stage.

Day 5 Preview

Tomorrow, the riders will head 70km and 2,700m of climbing south towards gthe small town of Llansewel. But at roughly 50km, the riders will also be let loose on the fourth and final special stage at Brechfa that will - barring any major mishaps on the two following linking stages - settle the overall titles.

There'll be drama and plenty of adrenalin on the distinctive Brechfa trails that blend classic singletrack with new school berms, chutes, table tops and rollers. Smooth and fast riders should dominate over the 10km stage that will be a fitting climax to the competitive side of the event. Once done, riders will then (finally) roll into the day's end Llansawel for a very well earned pint.

Results

Special stage 3 results
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
Solo women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marika Covre (Ideal - Vivibike)0:24:39 
2Rickie Justine Cotter (Cytek)0:00:08 
3Amy O'Loughlin (Beyond 925 / Hotbox)0:02:28 
4Maggie McPhillips (Stockport Clarion)0:03:41 
5Amy Baron-Hall (trio25.blogspot.com)0:04:13 
6Tatjana Troll0:08:07 
7Lowri Bunn (Lowri)0:11:03 
8Sarah Haley0:19:05 
Solo men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jonathan Pugh (clee cycles KCNC high 5)0:19:51 
2Josh Ibbett (IronHorse-Extreme)0:00:50 
3Jon Bowie (Trismart)0:00:52 
4James Sanford (BIKE RLC)0:01:15 
5Graham Mcconaghy (army cycling union)0:02:18 
6Rob Holbeche (No Friends No Gears)0:03:14 
7Andrew Mitchell (Chester Tri)0:03:24 
8Mark McPhillips (Stockport Clarion)0:03:28 
9Andy Barnsley0:03:36 
10Rob Brown0:03:45 
11Nickson Mwaura0:03:46 
12Alex Metcalfe (Gore Bike Wear)0:04:09 
13Matt Carr (Trek Bikes)0:04:36 
14Gethin Howells (Swansea Wheelers)0:04:37 
15Richard Morgan0:04:48 
16Robert Finch (RAFCC)0:04:52 
17Ricky Dickenson (Cytek)0:05:02 
18Ben Phillips0:05:41 
19Matthew Smith (Valley-Boy)0:05:56 
20Ben Amesbury (Clwydian)0:06:14 
21Will McCabe0:06:25 
22Oliver Castle (Mao MTB)0:06:26 
23Rob Gates (Berks on Bikes)0:06:32 
24Phil Dowling (ride-bikes.com)0:07:08 
25Lee Bacco0:07:18 
26Robin Calverley (Royal Air Force)0:07:35 
27Andy Beardsley (Oakes Surveys)0:07:51 
28Damian Keefe (Team DK)0:08:05 
29Richard Querelle0:08:07 
30Anton Michel0:08:16 
31Noel Gonsalves0:08:26 
32Mark Gray (Knackered Knees)0:08:32 
33Michael Dahlhausen0:08:41 
34Matthew Wood (West Drayton MBC)0:08:51 
35Rob Gray (Blue Ocean IQ)0:09:37 
36Lee Price0:09:39 
37Rick Banks (methley massive minus 1)0:10:43 
38Jason Keith (nmbc / midaircrisis)0:12:25 
39Ben Nathan (victoria inn)0:16:47 
40Neil Atkinson (Rideon/Buff)0:23:53 
41Ben Washington (Gore Bike Wear)  
42Wayne Harper  
43Graeme Spreadbury (Anything 4 A Ride)  
44Paul Plowman (Anything 4 A Ride)  
45Paul Clark (Phasenineclothing.co.uk)  
46James Dyson (PEDALSPORT CC)  
47David James (Anything 4 A Ride)  
48Robert Jones (The long and the slow of it)  
49Paul Latchem (Phasenineclothing.co.uk)  
50Neil Walters  
51Jay Elliott (Bikini Shack)  
52Pascal Herrmann (Gore Bike Wear)  
Solo veteran men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Steve Heading (White Racing UK)0:20:55 
2Gareth Bowyer (ffasiynau anabelle fashions)0:01:41 
3Jonathan Edwards0:01:50 
4Andy Hull0:02:25 
5Daryl Cavill (Tenby Aces Cycling Club)0:02:38 
6Gary Cousins (Phasenineclothing.co.uk)0:02:57 
7Andy Heading0:03:12 
8Dave Mansell (Madmance)0:04:00 
9Paul Clarke (Royal Navy & Royal Marines CA)0:04:24 
10Steve Parsons (Beyond 925)0:04:34 
11Andy Roberts0:04:51 
12Gary Hull (chicken legs)0:04:56 
13Kevin Farmer (Racetimingsystems)0:05:24 
14Alex Spiteri-James0:05:56 
15Simon McAllister (Team Sinobill)0:06:13 
16Ray Morriss (Mintcake MTB)0:06:25 
17Tim Johnson0:06:27 
18Steve Whitehouse0:06:55 
19Adrian Rees (Solitary Refinement)0:07:13 
20Andy Crane0:07:14 
21Tim Hazell  
22Nick Beauchamp0:08:07 
23Duncan Mellish0:08:12 
24Henry Harris (Gillingham Wheelers)0:08:50 
25Bryan Stadden0:09:25 
26Royston Smith (Long Way Home)0:10:58 
27Bill Neave (da me (da fatty))0:11:04 
28Gary Wright (NorPol)0:12:31 
29Steve Eastwood (Chester Tri)0:17:05 
30Martin Door0:20:49 
31Mario Manica (Carpentari)0:22:49 
32Tom Dunn  
33Dominic Brown (Team Dibbley)  
34Stéphane Van Wonterghem  
35Graham Hughes  
36Martin Zepler (Fellowship of the Granny Ring)  
37Michael Warwick  
38Howard Thomas  
39Carl Hutchings (SQUIRT)  
Mixed teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michael Tomlinson & Fi Spotswood (South Fork Racing)0:21:07 
2Jay Horton & Maddie Horton (Team Certini)0:00:30 
3Theresia Baumker & Werner Baumker (Team Charl '77)0:06:40 
4Christie Boucher & Charles Boucher (Boucher Luck)0:08:51 
5Claire Neuhoff & Simon Neuhoff (The Clantons)0:09:28 
6Ian Coop & Carly Annable-coop (The Wombles)0:18:35 
7Ben Holgate & Jenni Lappalainer (Steel of the Andes)  
Women's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joy Bringer & Camilla Edlin (BAD by association)0:33:56 
Men's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dan Lewis & Neil Richardson (Royal Air Force CA)0:20:12 
2Andy Jones & Ben Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC)0:00:52 
3Brendan Kay & Simon Gough (ARMY CYCLING)0:02:23 
4Bjorn Suetens & Koen Dierckens (Los Pistoleros Flamencos)0:04:37 
5Jonny Williams & James Holness (Beyond 925)0:04:44 
6Brendan Stevens & Stephen Marks (Cornish Piskies)0:05:25 
7Eoin Fitzgerald & Chris O'Callaghan (Ballyhoura Boys)0:05:37 
8Simon Whomsley & Neil Clarke (McRutters)0:05:48 
9Robert Axe & Stacy Turner (Team TF Bundy)0:06:24 
10Russ Walton & Stuart Bruce (Cotswold Outdoor)0:06:38 
11Dan Hughes & William Packer ()0:06:48 
12Charlie Buckle & Dan Buckle (Buckle Brothers)0:07:10 
13Anthony Morris & Paul Markland (Evans Cycles)0:07:15 
14Will Cook & Steve Middleton (Bison Cycleworks)0:07:51 
15Dan Durrant & Jake Morris (Dan+Jake)0:09:05 
16Sarel Hiemstra & Johan Nell (BatCat)0:09:49 
17David Pearce & Gareth Joyce (Ride the Alps)0:10:45 
18Andrew Munro & Wesley Botha (Zulu)0:14:20 
19Stuart Bridges & Simon Vining ()0:19:30 
20Tony Ireland & Phil Marland (Team Tredz)  
Veteran teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fulvio Damian & Elvo Del Puppo (Ideal - ViviBike)0:22:55 
2David Rielly & Steve Partington (Isle of Man Fire Service)0:04:00 
3Mark Johnson & Ray Herring (bicyclemania old duffers)0:07:46 
4Mark Carter & Nick Johnson (Team Stupid)0:07:52 
5Graham Denny & Shane Dickenson (Cytek)0:10:14 
General classification after day 4 (and special stage 3)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
Solo women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marika Covre (Ideal - Vivibike)29:26:01 
2Rickie Justine Cotter (Cytek)0:01:21 
3Amy O'Loughlin (Beyond 925 / Hotbox)0:12:58 
4Maggie McPhillips (Stockport Clarion)0:15:36 
5Amy Baron-Hall (trio25.blogspot.com)0:17:36 
6Lowri Bunn (Lowri)0:28:10 
7Tatjana Troll1:06:33 
8Sarah Haley1:32:55 
Solo men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jonathan Pugh (clee cycles KCNC high 5)29:08:38 
2Josh Ibbett (IronHorse-Extreme)0:04:20 
3Jon Bowie (Trismart)0:06:14 
4James Sanford (BIKE RLC)0:06:51 
5Graham Mcconaghy (army cycling union)0:11:04 
6Gethin Howells (Swansea Wheelers)0:11:07 
7Mark McPhillips (Stockport Clarion)0:12:20 
8Andrew Mitchell (Chester Tri)0:13:40 
9Rob Brown0:14:56 
10Alex Metcalfe (Gore Bike Wear)0:18:14 
11Richard Morgan0:19:02 
12Ben Phillips0:19:32 
13Matt Carr (Trek Bikes)0:19:53 
14Matthew Smith (Valley-Boy)0:21:40 
15Andy Barnsley0:23:13 
16Ricky Dickenson (Cytek)0:24:46 
17Rob Gates (Berks on Bikes)0:25:17 
18Robin Calverley (Royal Air Force)0:25:51 
19Nickson Mwaura0:25:58 
20Lee Price0:26:32 
21Lee Bacco0:27:11 
22Will McCabe0:27:15 
23Michael Dahlhausen0:27:28 
24Damian Keefe (Team DK)  
25Matthew Wood (West Drayton MBC)0:28:12 
26Oliver Castle (Mao MTB)0:30:00 
27Andy Beardsley (Oakes Surveys)0:30:09 
28Robert Finch (RAFCC)0:30:34 
29Richard Querelle0:30:48 
30Rob Holbeche (No Friends No Gears)0:31:49 
31Ben Amesbury (Clwydian)0:31:53 
32Phil Dowling (ride-bikes.com)0:33:35 
33Rob Gray (Blue Ocean IQ)0:35:09 
34Noel Gonsalves0:35:52 
35Mark Gray (Knackered Knees)0:36:52 
36Neil Atkinson (Rideon/Buff)0:38:50 
37Ben Washington (Gore Bike Wear)0:40:06 
38Anton Michel0:44:15 
39Jason Keith (nmbc / midaircrisis)0:45:25 
40Wayne Harper0:49:20 
41Graeme Spreadbury (Anything 4 A Ride)0:51:28 
42Rick Banks (methley massive minus 1)0:51:35 
43Paul Plowman (Anything 4 A Ride)0:55:49 
44Ben Nathan (victoria inn)1:03:08 
45Paul Clark (Phasenineclothing.co.uk)1:05:25 
46James Dyson (PEDALSPORT CC)1:11:19 
47David James (Anything 4 A Ride)1:21:20 
48Robert Jones (The long and the slow of it)1:33:22 
49Paul Latchem (Phasenineclothing.co.uk)1:47:22 
50Neil Walters1:48:18 
51Jay Elliott (Bikini Shack)1:50:18 
52Pascal Herrmann (Gore Bike Wear)  
Solo veteran men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Steve Heading (White Racing UK)29:12:27 
2Gareth Bowyer (ffasiynau anabelle fashions)0:04:58 
3Jonathan Edwards0:06:14 
4Daryl Cavill (Tenby Aces Cycling Club)0:07:42 
5Gary Cousins (Phasenineclothing.co.uk)0:11:42 
6Andy Heading0:12:30 
7Andy Roberts0:15:26 
8Andy Hull0:18:34 
9Tim Johnson0:18:44 
10Paul Clarke (Royal Navy & Royal Marines CA)0:20:13 
11Steve Whitehouse0:20:33 
12Gary Hull (chicken legs)0:21:45 
13Henry Harris (Gillingham Wheelers)0:22:43 
14Simon McAllister (Team Sinobill)0:25:10 
15Bryan Stadden0:25:29 
16Adrian Rees (Solitary Refinement)0:26:05 
17Ray Morriss (Mintcake MTB)0:26:38 
18Steve Parsons (Beyond 925)0:27:20 
19Dave Mansell (Madmance)0:31:44 
20Duncan Mellish0:32:24 
21Bill Neave (da me (da fatty))0:35:22 
22Andy Crane0:37:51 
23Nick Beauchamp0:41:25 
24Mario Manica (Carpentari)0:41:55 
25Kevin Farmer (Racetimingsystems)0:43:14 
26Steve Eastwood (Chester Tri)0:47:37 
27Gary Wright (NorPol)0:47:46 
28Royston Smith (Long Way Home)0:47:54 
29Alex Spiteri-James0:49:55 
30Tom Dunn0:55:19 
31Dominic Brown (Team Dibbley)1:05:58 
32Tim Hazell1:06:23 
33Stéphane Van Wonterghem1:08:43 
34Graham Hughes1:15:25 
35Martin Door1:27:24 
36Martin Zepler (Fellowship of the Granny Ring)1:41:15 
37Michael Warwick1:46:29 
38Howard Thomas  
39Carl Hutchings (SQUIRT)  
Mixed teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jay Horton & Maddie Horton (Team Certini)29:16:38 
2Michael Tomlinson & Fi Spotswood (South Fork Racing)0:01:39 
3Theresia Baumker & Werner Baumker (Team Charl '77)0:19:26 
4Christie Boucher & Charles Boucher (Boucher Luck)0:27:22 
5Claire Neuhoff & Simon Neuhoff (The Clantons)0:29:31 
6Ian Coop & Carly Annable-coop (The Wombles)1:00:56 
7Ben Holgate & Jenni Lappalainer (Steel of the Andes)1:08:17 
Women's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joy Bringer & Camilla Edlin (BAD by association)30:01:40 
Men's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dan Lewis & Neil Richardson (Royal Air Force CA)29:13:00 
2Andy Jones & Ben Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC)0:01:28 
3Brendan Kay & Simon Gough (ARMY CYCLING)0:08:06 
4Bjorn Suetens & Koen Dierckens (Los Pistoleros Flamencos)0:14:10 
5Jonny Williams & James Holness (Beyond 925)0:15:27 
6Robert Axe & Stacy Turner (Team TF Bundy)0:21:18 
7Brendan Stevens & Stephen Marks (Cornish Piskies)0:23:18 
8Eoin Fitzgerald & Chris O'Callaghan (Ballyhoura Boys)0:23:24 
9Simon Whomsley & Neil Clarke (McRutters)0:23:39 
10Will Cook & Steve Middleton (Bison Cycleworks)0:25:14 
11Russ Walton & Stuart Bruce (Cotswold Outdoor)0:25:53 
12Sarel Hiemstra & Johan Nell (BatCat)0:28:36 
13Charlie Buckle & Dan Buckle (Buckle Brothers)0:29:48 
14Anthony Morris & Paul Markland (Evans Cycles)0:29:58 
15Dan Durrant & Jake Morris (Dan+Jake)0:33:56 
16David Pearce & Gareth Joyce (Ride the Alps)0:36:01 
17Andrew Munro & Wesley Botha (Zulu)0:39:11 
18Dan Hughes & William Packer ()0:40:48 
19Stuart Bridges & Simon Vining ()0:47:18 
20Tony Ireland & Phil Marland (Team Tredz)0:56:14 
Veteran teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fulvio Damian & Elvo Del Puppo (Ideal - ViviBike)29:17:44 
2David Rielly & Steve Partington (Isle of Man Fire Service)0:17:09 
3Graham Denny & Shane Dickenson (Cytek)0:31:49 
4Mark Carter & Nick Johnson (Team Stupid)0:32:03 
5Mark Johnson & Ray Herring (bicyclemania old duffers)0:33:53 
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