October 11, 2012 (Elgin, NB) – In the past decade Elgin, NB, has become synonymous with MTB endurance racing in Atlantic Canada. What started as a very low-key 80km single loop race back in 2002 has evolved to become a 120k annual showdown of both Atlantic Canada’s mtb elite and those that simply like to get their ride on.
The mastermind behind the Elgin MTB Event- which also offers 20k, 40k and 80k races and trail running races – is the Elgin Eco Association and the dedicated Elgin citizenry who take great pride in showcasing the outdoor treasures that Albert County has to offer.
The 2012 Elgin 120 had been proclaimed as the Atlantic MTB Marathon Championships and with regional and national caliber talent unlike any seen in previous editions of Elgin it was obvious that a grand battle was going to take place. The hype machine had been in full effect in the weeks leading up to race day and the prospect of a New Brunswick versus Nova Scotia showdown had whetted the appetites of both racers and fans.
The race started off casually enough for the first several kms of paved road, however, the pack began to spread out quickly on the first 5k doubletrack climb. Twenty minutes later when the lead group crested the climb and surveyed the damage they were surprised to find that the seven rider break consisted entirely of Nova Scotians. Terry Tomlin (Oakley Atlantic Racing) stated afterwards “we’re all Halifax buddies that train and race together regularly so we decided to just keep it rolling steady and social and let attrition take its course.”
NB was not going down without a fight, however, as Jeff Sparkes (The Radical Edge) displayed when he made a mad descent and bridged up to the lead group. His team-mate Adam Douthwright put his TT skills to good use and also made the juncture shortly afterwards. The odds began to become more evenly balanced as mechanicals jettisoned Nova Scotian riders Garret McLeod (H+R Block) and Jamie Lamb (Cyclesmith/Giro) temporarily from the leaders while a gnarly high speed crash ejected Jakub Koska (Cannondale) for the day.
By km 70 the two NB riders had been dispatched from the lead group and the six NS riders- Lamb, McLeod, Tomlin, Andrew L’Espearance (Norco Factory/Giro), Lorenzo Caterini (Hub Cycle) and Martin Austin (Louis Garneau) kept rolling “steady and social” but when McLeod and Caterini were gapped at 85k it was suddenly ‘game on’ and time to get down to business for the remaining four riders. Tomlin and Austin took turns turning the screws on each other whenever they sensed weakness in the rocky, wet doubletrack while the two race favourites, Lamb and L’Espearance, kept a watchful eye on the group without committing to any killer blows.
When the four leaders slammed into the final steep 2.5k climb the group fragmented from the back. First Austin and then Tomlin were jettisoned by the head-to-head battle between Lamb and L’Espearance but neither powerhouse could make inroads into their opponent and it came down to a sprint at the line which ‘The Lambinator’ snagged over ‘The Young Gun’ in a sub 5:20 race time. Tomlin rolled in 20 seconds later for 3rd while Austin slid home for 4th and Caterini finished off the top 5 for NS.
The Women’s 120k field may have lacked depth with just three entries but it made up for it in commitment and talent. Anna Healy (The Radical Edge), Zuzana Ecerova (Cyclesmith/Bicisport), and Heidi King (Saint John CC) all ensured that the women’s race had a 100% finish rate. Healy had recently podiumed at the Pisgah MTB Stage Race in the US while Ecerova had competed in multiple mtb endurance events such as the Canmore 24 hours and the Butte 100 this season so both were well prepared for the rigors of Elgin. Healy stormed into the lead from the first section of climbing and was never to be seen again until the finish line. In fact her times on many sections of the course would have put her in the top 12 of the men’s field. Ecerova had a great ride for the silver while King impressed by rounding out the podium.
Much thanks to the Elgin Eco Association and their band of friendly and tireless volunteers for another very successful edition of their fundraising event. Registration was 97 riders so we should expect to finally break the 100 rider mark in 2013! Mark your calendars.
For full results click here.