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Posted: March 2, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Cycling: Leuchs and Roy win inaugural Skins Alpine Epic

New Zealand's top cross-country mountain biker and Olympian Kashi Leuchs (pronounced Cashy Lukes) together with team-mate and fellow national representative Marcus Roy, made history on Saturday (28 February) by winning the inaugural Skins Alpine Epic.

The pair crossed the finish line in a time of 13hrs:27min:47sec in front of the 200-strong crowd who were gathered on the picturesque shores of Lake Tekapo to cheer them home.

The second of the 60 teams, well-known endurance athlete Mark Williams from Queenstown with team-mate Scott Wilder, a competitive road cyclist from Christchurch, came in twelve minutes later with a time of 13:40:14. Nic Smith and Neil Sutherland placed third on 13:45:07.

“It was a real challenge,” said Mr Leuchs. “Four days of cross-country mountain bike racing over 240km is hard going. Having said that, the track is absolutely beautiful and you get to see incredible picture postcard scenery all the way. I'll definitely be back for another go.”

All eyes were on the finish line to see who would be the first female team to come in.

In the end it was former NZ mountain bike representative Megan Dimonzantos and Sadie Parker Wynyard who beat out Denise Thorne and Georgie Mclean to take the title of overall female winners. The pair crossed the finish line in 18:48:55 to rapturous applause.

The Veteran men's category was won by Geoff Blance and Malcolm McLeod in a time of 13:58:53.

Longtime sport stars Steve Moffat and Shane Fairmaid took out the Classic category with a time of 15:53:03.

Jamie Fitzgerald and Rob Hamill, both past winners of the Trans-Atlantic Rowing race, competed together and found the course extremely challenging but said the camaraderie and evening campsites made the whole experience lots of fun and very memorable.

Race director Nick Ross, of Crank Events, says the event was a huge success.

“We knew it had huge potential because we've competed in events like this overseas but we're absolutely stoked that it's proven so popular from the get-go. We weren't expecting to have a full field in our first year of running the event but we had to close off entries early and even had a wait list.

“The scenery is spectacular and there's plenty of technical riding with a mixture of tough climbs, fast downhills, four wheel drive tracks, rolling tussock fields and open flats.

“Although the weather caused a few headaches it didn't dampen the atmosphere in-camp or at the finish line at all. People said how great it is was to have full logistical support rather than providing their own support crews – they could just get on with the race rather than worrying about their gear. Our team of volunteers was outstanding and the support from the spectators was fantastic. I hope everyone will be back in 2010 to do it all again.”

More than 200 people celebrated the end of the four-day race together on Saturday night at a banquet, prizegiving and good old fashioned knees up in Tekapo.

For full race results and photos visit www.alpineepic.co.nz.

Kashi Leuchs and Amrcus Roy Crossing Hewson River


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