Giant Australia Off-Road Team rider Brendan Johnston headed into the 2018 Cape to Cape as the defending champion and hot favourite after winning both the Port to Port & Reef to Reef pairs race earlier in the year. Taking place in the wine region of Margaret River, Western Australia, Cape to Cape has become the largest race of its kind in Australia. Set over 4 days, the race takes over 1,000 riders through various terrain and a combination of fire trails and amazing singletrack. As well as defending champ Brendan, the Giant Australia Off-Road Team had the full roster racing including Jon Odams, Adam Blazevic and Paul van der Ploeg, all riders opting for the Anthem Advanced Pro 29er 0.
Tradtionally an event that presents favourable weather, the 2018 edition threw up tough conditions especially on Stage 1 which began from the traditional starting point of Cape Leeuwin. The first stage while being the shortest of the four also had the most climbing including the infamous Heartbreak Hill, the howling winds and sideways rained threw an extra layer of difficulty onto the already tough stage. On Stage 1 an elite group of four riders formed after splitting the field on the climbs, heading into the finish it was Brendan Johnston who won the sprint showing that he was the man to beat in the General Classification again this year.
Stage 2 started and finished at the picturesque Leeuwin Estate. The 63km stage was the longest of the event but didn't feature the climbing of the previous day. This resulted in a big group riding together throughout the stage and the finish line saw 8 riders battling it out for the win. Brendan finished in third ensuring he remained in the yellow leader's jersey for day 3.
Margaret River played host for the beginning of Stage 3 with riders rolling out through the spectator lined streets before heading out onto the rest of the shorter 45km stage. Stage 3 wound its way through the super fun Pines singletrack with two riders sneaking off the front, Brendan & Kyle Ward who were only separated by a few seconds in the battle for the overall. After just over 1 hour and 40 minutes it was Brendan who took the sprint victory over Kyle with Cam Ivory coming in just over 30 seconds behind.
The fourth day was the last opportunity for the General Classification battle to be shaken up and Brendan Johnston was attacked from the gun. Things were looking good for Brendan until the final few kms where an unfortunate tumble in one of the deeper river crossings saw the race start to get away from him as Kyle Ward created a gap. After riding hard Brendan managed to get back on and race into the finishing chute just behind Stage 4 winner Kyle Ward. After 4 days and 200+ kilometres of racing Brendan held on to take out the GC by just 8 seconds. His victory at Cape to Cape also saw him as the first winner of the triple crown winning Port to Port, Reef to Reef & Cape to Cape all in the same year.
Brendan had this to say about the race, "Winning Cape to Cape this year was special, every day I had to be defend the lead, and grab seconds here and there in the finishes. I was proud of the fight I had throughout the week and so happy to take the James Williamson Medal for the second time. The Anthem 29 is proving to be a superb all rounder, it’s a great platform for these short stage race events and marathons the same." As well as riding on-board the Anthem Advanced Pro 29er, Brendan also wore the Giant Rev MIPS equipped helmet.
Special mention also to Giant Australia Off-Road Team riders Jon Odams who finished in 6th overall and youngster Adam Blazevic in 16th overall.
Brendan will now take on various off-road and on-road events over the Australian summer before taking on the 2019 Cape Epic in South Africa in March with Cam Ivory.