Navigation errors and misfortune thrive during the first day of the 2010 Alpine Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race yesterday with Tony Hogg and Mark Williams taking two stage wins from defending champions Kashi Leuchs and Marcus Roy.
The wins, on sub-alpine routes that travelled from Mt Somers to Rangitata Gorge, came as a surprise to the R&R Sport team of Hogg and Williams.
"We were behind two teams coming into the last dash to the Rangitata River, but we got there and there was no one else there," Williams, of Queenstown, said.
Hogg and Williams finished the first stage in a time of 3:32:18.
Roy and Leuchs, of Team Yeti NZ, were slowed by a poor navigation choice that left them languishing in a swamp while the third lead team – Property Syndication – saw its riders, Ollie Whalley and Brent Miller marred by a string of misfortune.
"I realised we were lost coming into the Rangitata River, then I blew my tyre out and my drink bottle disappeared when I crashed so I had no water," Miller explains.
"I went through a dark patch for about an hour – I had no food, no water and I was bleeding."
After leading the end of the stage Miller and Whalley lost at least an hour looking for water and the waiting raft at the finish of stage one.
"I thought the raft was to the left and I was loving the tailwind we had – until I realised we should have gone upstream, and so we had to ride all the way back into the wind," Whalley laughs.
In the following stage Miller and Whalley broke a chain and flatted at the same time.
"Someone didn't want us to win today – then my chain breaker needed a 4mm Allen key, which we didn't have with us," Miller adds.
About midway through the first stage Hogg stopped the lead riders in their tracks when he came off at speed in a rut and was thrown several metres down a bank.
All three teams rallied around what they suspected might be a serious injury, but Hogg soon remounted and was able to continue the race with a couple of gashes to his left knee and a hematoma on his left hip.
"Everyone came back to help me out – that's just what mountain bikers do," Hogg laughed.
"I thought we were going to be calling the helicopter in for him," Roy said.
We went from a bad incident, to just trying to limit our loss, to actually winning it, Hogg said.
Hogg and Williams won the time trial – an 18km sprint in a time of 43:18.
Leuchs was not concerned by the time he and Roy lost in the first stage.
"There are four big days in this race and a lot can happen – we saw that with Ollie's team today," he said.
The field of almost 80 riders will embark on stage three at 8am on Thursday morning, which will take them around Mt Peel and finish in Ashwick Flat 78km later.