MARGARET River will host more than 1200 riders in the multi-stage endurance race.
Lycra army: Margaret River shuts down as the field of 1250 riders thunders down Bussell Hwy at the start of Stage 3 last year.
Adrenalin: Australian World Championship team member Paul van der Ploeg negotiates a jump during the 2013 Cape to Cape MTB.
Determined: Australian Paralympic Basketball Team member and the first person with a physical disability to compete in the Cape to Cape MTB, Andrew Liddawi.
MORE than 1200 recreational and elite bike riders set off on the gruelling course of the Cape to Cape MTB race on Thursday.
Though taking in the Margaret River region’s best attributes from vineyards to pristine beaches, there is nothing leisurely about this bike ride.
Acting tourism minister John Day said the four-day event would take riders from Cape Leeuwin to Dunsborough, highlighting the Margaret River region’s famed wineries, rocky outcrops, forests and beaches.
“The Cape to Cape MTB is a great example of a successful home-grown event that has gained a reputation over the past five years as Australia’s largest multi-stage mountain bike race,” he said.
Proving its international profile, the event has attracted riders from South Africa, the UK, Dubai, Singapore, Belgium, Moscow and New Zealand to name a few.
London 2012 Australian Olympic MTB representatives Dan McConnell and Bec Henderson are both returning this year to continue their world-leading form.
Andrew Liddawi, currently training with the Australian Paralympic Basketball Team, broke more than a few boundaries when he became the first person with a physical disability to contest an Australian mountain-bike event on a hand-powered trike in the 2013 event. This time around, he is preparing a more sustained and gruelling attack.
The event is split into four stages ranging between 42 kilometres and 64 kilometres and has attracted interstate and international riders of all levels.
Mr Day said tourism was critical to the State’s economy, generating $8.3 billion in visitor spend for the year ending June 2014.
“We have a strategy in place to increase this value to $12 billion by 2020, and supporting events such as the Cape to Cape MTB will play a key role in helping us to achieve that goal,” he said.
Most crucial to the success of the Cape to Cape MTB is the “lycra army”, a field of 1300 riders who are simply chasing an adrenalin high and the personal challenge the event promises.
A diverse weekend of music, from rock and roll to south west blues, is on in Margs.
For more details, visit www.margaretrivermail.com.au