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Getting shafted @ Port to Port day 3

By Brickonabike - Posted on 30 May 2016

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

I was 4th in masters general classification at the beginning of the day. My aim was to make the most of my local knowledge in Awaba MTB park where I ride & race regularly to get on the masters podium for the day & into the top 3 on GC.
I came out of Awaba in a group with 1st & 3rd in my category & had opened a gap to 2nd & 5th, 6th etc. Before turning the corner at the end of the first long straight of the climb I glanced back & could not see any riders or groups in pursuit, only one or two who had dropped off our group.
We had a significant gap so continued to push & push all the way up the climb.
We had a group of 6 or 7 & right at the top of the climb we caught Paul van der Ploeg. I knew then that if we kept the gap until the single track & descent I would achieve my goal.
We set a cracking pace across the top & entered the single track with the group together. I lost touch with 3 of the group including PVP due to some small offs as happens in rutted out Moto track like that. I then took a wrong turn & went 500 metres off course. I realised my mistake when I couldn't see any tyre tracks. Unfortunately two guys had followed me. We turned around & rejoined the course.
I got away from them on the final descent & was surprised at the bottom that I was catching a couple of the guys that dropped me, including 3rd in cat. I felt strong on the run into the finish, powered along by the motivation to maintain the significant gap I had achieved. Crossed the line 3rd, mission accomplished.
My first thought there after was "gee, there are a lot of riders around. I'm sure I wasn't that far back." There were one or 2 faces I recognised & thought to myself they must of had mechanicals in Awaba & pulled out.
It slowly dawned on me that the crowd of riders were the elites ahead of me & virtually all of the competitors around me in gc that I had worked so hard to keep behind.
Word passed around that a large group of about 12 riders had taken a wrong turn which resulted in a massive shortcut.
No worries I thought, they'll sort it out. The result was clear cut, I was 3rd so I hung around for the podium. I began to get that sinking feeling when they announced they were postponing the masters podium. Straight away I thought to myself, I'm going to get shafted here.
So after hanging around an hour & a half for nothing I headed home.
My family & I were going out for dinner with friends but first I had to duck out on my bike to check all the markings for stage 4 were in place for the alignment off the fernleigh track around redhead.
I had become involved in setting & marking local trails as I live in redhead, & I had promised P2P that I would check this section. I finished in the dark, my family had gone out without me.
I started getting phone calls on my way to join them that results were up & I had been given 6th in category. I thought that can't be right but sure enough when I got to dinner & checked I was 6th in masters & 32nd overall (I crossed the line 23rd).
I was gutted, angry, incredulous & a terrible dinner companion. I fired off some messages, had a whinge on Facebook & stewed on the injustice of it all night, couldn't sleep, just had a totally shit night. What really ticked me off was when the daily wrap was posted it listed another guy as 3rd despite me already contacting P2P to say it clearly wasn't right. For guys like me, that recognition is really important.
On Sunday morning I spoke to some organisers, they would put me on the postponed podium but would not change the published results. A token gesture without fixing the real problem. So the results are still that way, the daily wrap hasn't been corrected & other publications, flow, AMB, marathon MTB have all mentioned another rider as third in masters.
A basic element of MTB racing, mentioned in every race brief, not only for fair competition but for safety is when you realise you are off course, go back, find a marker & rejoin. I've been told this group made a decision not to do that. How is that not grounds for disqualification or at the least a hefty time penalty.
When it was decided not to punish them & allocate a time to them that kept them in the race, I've been told they looked at the time gained by one of the elites who took a shortcut over the group he had been riding with, and then added that time across the field to everyone who had owned up to a shortcut. I am not sure as they didn't post the original results but I think it was 9 minutes.
That was flawed because the elites descend & chase a lot differently to others and it was a different shortcut taken that affected my placing, therefore the time added should of been larger. That resulted in 8 blokes that I was ahead of by a significant margin before they took a shortcut are in the history book as finishing ahead of me! Most of those 8 I had beaten on one or both of the previous stages, I don't know how they can justify giving them a time that made up time on me in gc. I rode the course, turned around when I was off course, rode my arse off...but went backwards on gc. Go figure.
There is 10km of Moto single track, technical steep fire trail descent & raw incredibly steep single track that those guys still have not ridden.
I emptied the tank over those 10km, those guys took a short cut that took them down a tar road and then a flat ride to the finish. So of course the times given to them kept them in the race and they lined up for the 4th stage with fresher legs. That makes it easier for those ahead of me on gc to protect themselves on the stage (I was now 5th in masters) & for those behind to attack me. An unfair advantage in my opinion.
I think for their own credibility they must protect the integrity of the racing, and their decisions failed to do that. Situations like mine were repeated down through the field so now the results to me read like one of my daughters bedtime stories, pure make believe.
In the end a stick snapped off my dérailleur in stage 4 & I pushed home, tumbling down the classification. It's a great event but as you can tell my experience is going to leave a bad taste for a long time.

Sent from my iPad

I rode the 3rd stage and though the course markings were overall very good, it's obvious that they don't have exclusive use of most of the course so can't tape over wrong turns.
They did have white markings on the ground at each corner and we used those a couple of times when the plastic signs were missing. As there were only a few corners where the 'left/right turn ahead' or arrows were missing it does seem that a penalty should have been applied.
Other races have applied penalties when groups accidentally cut the course, they should have.

I've lost podium positions in a few races from a few different organizers in the past and there's nothing worse.
You know you've trained. Rode well and given it all. But it's all taken away by the bad organization of the company that charged you a fortune for the event.
Really disappointing!

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