Reef to Reef returned to tropical Far North Queensland last week for the second running of the event. The event saw riders either choose to take on the event as a pair or as a solo rider. The event is part of the Triple Crown of Port to Port, Reef to Reef & Cape to Cape and takes riders 4 days to complete as they ride off-road around the beautiful towns of Cairns & Port Douglas.
All eyes were on the Giant Australia Off-Road Team pairing of Brendan Johnston & Jon Odams who returned as reigning winners from the inaugural event last year. Also participating from the Giant Australia Off-Road Team was Paul van der Ploeg who paired up with his brother Neil who switched over from the skinny tyres of road racing to take on the Queensland singletrack.
Day 1 kicked off with a prologue around the Smithfield MTB Park. The Stage distance was relatively short at 17km but it also included 600m of climbing. Brendan Johnston & Jon Odams took a convincing lead on their Anthem Advanced Pro 29ers finishing 4 minutes ahead of second place.
Unfortunately the van der Ploeg brothers suffered from a puncture losing a heap of time which would ultimately effect their chances at battling for the overall GC win.
Stage 2 saw the pairing of Johnston & Odams extend their lead as they took the Stage win convincingly into Davies Creek.
The longest Stage of the event, Stage 3, was a 70km stage with over 1200m of climbing cementing itself as the Queen stage of Reef to Reef. This Stage would be the day of the van der Ploegs as they rode strongly and took the win just ahead of Johnston & Odams who were in the hot seat as convincing GC leaders heading into the final stage.
The Stage win by Paul and Neil van der Ploeg was a special one as Paul spent most of the year recovering from a broken leg suffered earlier this year in New Zealand.
Stage 4 was all about getting to that finish line in Port Douglas! The 51km stage took riders down the famous Bump Track and onto the beach for the final few kilometres of racing. It was the pairing of Johnston & Odams who took their 3rd stage win of the event cementing an impressive overall win of almost 20 minutes from second place. The van der Ploeg brothers also finished in 3rd overall returning a great return to marathon racing for Paul after early season injuries.
To learn more about the Reef to Reef event and for full results head on over to the official website here: https://reeftoreefmtb.com/