More than 1300 riders set off on Cape to Cape MTB

Since 1895, the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse has had its fair share of historic moments but none like this, with a record of more than 1300 mountain bikers assembling to tackle this iconic stage, and kick off the MTB celebration that is Cape to Cape.

With time bonuses on offer, Wednesday evening's fast and furious prologue at Leeuwin Estate had offered a chance to not only blow out the cobwebs but also grab a welcome time advantage.

The result was only seconds separating the main pairs on the clock, and the guarantee of an exciting morning on the trails.

The men's pairs were flying, covering the 39km stage in less than 90 minutes.

In a desperate drive to the line the stage honours went to team "Double Trouble', Reece Tucknott and Brent Rees, who edged out the GIANT - Shimano team of Brendan Johnston and Jon Odams.

"We were third in the prologue yesterday but crossed the line with Jonny and Trekky here today, the time is usually taken on the two closest team mates, so we focused on that. We were also mindful that we didn't want Cam Ivory and Callum Carson (Trek Shimano) to catch us," Tucknott said.

"We worked nicely together on the descent and the run home and it is great to be able to pick up the stage win and be second overall. There are good and promising signs for the rest of the week and based on who was together until the last 5km, the next three days are going to be unpredictable. So, we will see how we go in the single track in coming stages."

Adjusting for time bonuses, GIANT-Shimano grabbed the leader's jersey and with an unbeaten record on the line this year, they are determined to defend it all the way to the finish at the Margaret River Special stage on Sunday morning.

"There was some pretty serious riding going on out front with ten or twelve of us at the front of the race most of the day," Johnston said. "There are some good climbs at the end of the stage which made it really hard and we were trying to keep it together and all up, I think we did pretty well."

"I think this year's race is going to be very tight, especially with the pairs format it will be harder to get away which always makes it that much more difficult. We will see. This race is always close and while it is hard to get the leader's jersey, it is also hard to lose it, if you are riding well."

Cam Ivory and Callum Carson will revel in the conditions in the following stages and they were pleased to be in the mix on day one and having a fun day out on the bike.

"It was nice to have the legs and we pushed it pretty hard and managed to get into a nice bunch working together to pull away but we just dropped off on the final climb. It is always close at Cape to Cape but the pairs has changed the tactics and I am expecting to see bunches at the finish all week with everyone trying to get the uphand coming into the sprint. It should be good for the spectators but is definitely fun out there on the bike. It is awesome," Ivory said.

Leading the Mixed Pairs and in eight place overall, Holly Harris and brother Michael have launched their assault on Cape to Cape in style. With the Port to Port and Reef to Reef titles in the bag, they looking for a threepeat to wrap up the Epic Series.

"I am in so much pain, there was a lot of climbing, sticks and fire roads and I even saw two metre long snake and nearly jumped onto Mick's bike," Holly laughed.

"I am a little bit weaker on the time trial and it is not my forte, so it was good to minimise the damage there yesterday. So, it is nice to have a good stage today to consolidate a handy lead. Mick has just come back from tonsil surgery and he can breathe properly, so he is flying. I was glad to be able to pedal a bit harder today and keep up."

After the time trial and winning stage one of Cape to Cape, you would never suspect that Canberra based roadies Lucy Bechtel and Ella Bloor were making their off road debut. Normally racing for the Specialised Women's Racing Team, the pair have gone to the 'dark side' for a bit of fun and a change of environment.

"I took a year off, so this is my comeback, coming out of retirement, so I am pretty fresh. Racing was a last minute decision, about two weeks ago we put it all together.

"I have had a few injuries, so this year for me is to do everything I have wanted to do and Cape to Cape was one of those things. I am living life this year and this race was on the list," Lucy said.

"This is our first stage race, so we thought we would pick a good one to start with," Ella said.

"We have always talked about riding Cape to Cape, so when the opportunity presented itself, we thought 'Why not?'. We haven't thought too much about the next few stages and are just taking it day by day. Although we have been getting some tips from the very fast riders we are staying with."