Even though this opening stage, held in the state of Western Australia, would present few if any difficulties related to the rise and fall of the terrain (only 3,350m of elevation gain), the ambient weather conditions, ideal for surfers, proved to be but much more troublesome for the raiders. During the whole weekend, temperatures had no trouble in climbing rapidly beyond 30 degrees C, making an already difficult task an exceedingly gruelling one for the athletes involved. Hellish conditions made tougher for all the European and American teams, racing here for the first time after training through an unusually harsh winter.
Though team SPYDER (USA) didn't seem to suffer any shock; thermal or otherwise. The team from Colorado, founded only last November, were discovering Australia for the first time on this occasion. After beginning their season with a second place on a 4-day raid in Mexico, the team of Dave Mackey, elected United States top Ultra-runner for 2 years in a row - and Travis Macy, snow-shoeing champion, put in decisive, fault-free performances over the five sections on the first day and paced themselves perfectly during the second, to hold off any attempts at a challenge for the race lead.
From Geographe Bay to Cape Leeuwin, passing through Bunker Bay and the River Blackwood, the Americans took control of the race as they progressed from the North to the South of this immense state, irrespective of the discipline or the terrain. Even as GOLITE TIMBERLAND (NZL), SAAB SALOMON (GBR) and REVO (LIT) suffered critical heat exhaustion or dehydration in the soft, burning sands of the beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline, or SPORT 2000 LAFUMA (FRA) got lost in the coastal vegetation of Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park, SPYDER (USA) surged ahead, in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and experience.
The rare sections disputed under "cooler" conditions, such as the early morning canoeing or the long MTB (90km) night ride, were tied up by the Americans, unquestionably a very complete and homogeneous squad. SPYDER (USA) finished the 246-kilometre race in 16h48:17 as victors, ending with a well-deserved and languorous bath in the refreshing waves that had taunted the raiders throughout the weekend...
Stage 1: Australia: Top Four Teams:
Stage 2: Idaho, June 9-11, 2006
Stage 3: France July 14-16, 2006
Stay tuned to GreatOutdoors.com for results from Stages 2 and 3.