A thrilling sprint finish victory by Josh Parkin was a fitting conclusion to an awesome days racing at Taupo’s Torpedo7 Craters Classic MTB event on Sunday.
While the “Classic” has a long and storied history stretching back well over a decade, this year’s running showed its appeal is at an all-time high. Despite the threat of rain and temperature struggling to crack double figures, a sold out field of 350 eager Mountainbikers from all over the North Island lined up to take on the challenge.
The ever expanding maze of fun and flowing trails that makes up the Crater’s network has always made for an ideal racing venue. Trails that are really achievable for all, yet more become challenging the harder you ride. Rewarding smooth and efficient riding, they can always be relied upon to provide close and exciting racing. And that is precisely what happened.
Parkin was delighted with his win in the feature long course event, and was vocal about the quality of the racing. “Yeah, stoked with it! I really enjoyed the course, and it was a close race right from the start. Nathan Johnston was with me pretty much the whole way and we managed to get away from the field on the steepest climb of the course from there we swapped positions multiple times, he kept me honest right up to the end.”
In the end it was perhaps his Parkin’s experience that gave him the edge. “I knew the finish involved a fairly awkward corner so if I was in front there I could potentially get the jump out of the corner.” He executed his move to perfection, and you can be sure that (newly named NZ Junior representative) Johnston will be working on his sprint ahead of September’s World Championships.
While these two showed a clean pair of wheels out front, a glance across the top 5 really showed just how much of a leveller the this event can be. While less than 4 minutes covered the first 5 across the line, they were covered by an almost 30yr age spread leaving no doubt that this really is an event for everyone!
But it was the trails, and the event vibe that really had everyone buzzing. Rotorua’s Benny Devcich has been around the scene longer than he cares to remember, and after more than 15yrs since his last visit was left wondering why he’d waited so long to return. “I must say I underrated the place for a while, I will be back for sure for a bit of a look around soon.” Sentiments echoed by the majority of participants who travelled from far and wide.
While the results show some high quality racing throughout the categories and grades, it really is a family affair. Perhaps never has this been illustrated so well as by popular Auckland couple Duane Watene and Bernadette Mark. Familiar faces at events all over the country, the energetic couple saw the Torpedo7 Craters Classic as the perfect opportunity to introduce their kids to MTB racing; all 6 of them. Yes, you read that right - Six!
Said a beaming Duane at the finish “it was a bit of a challenge trying to Shepherd them all along. But that was awesome!” Achievable, challenging, and enjoyable. That’s what it’s all about.
There’s an old saying in business, that “the customer is always right.” With a sold out field, and a sea of smiling faces at races end the people have spoken.
The Classic is back in Craters.
Race video can be viewed here..