Local nabs hat trick in Tour de Wakatipu

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A Queenstown mountain biker has nailed a hat-trick in the fiercely fought cross- country Easter race, Tour de Wakatipu.

Mark Williams pedalled his way along the 45km loop from Millbrook Resort, around Lake Hayes to Chard Farm on the Kawarau River to his third win in the event on Saturday.

Williams was first across the line in 1hr 37min 14sec with elite veteran Paul Winterbourne from Moa Flat hot on his heels, finishing just two seconds behind.

“As we came close to the finish there was a lot of jostling for position,” he says, ”but I just managed to nose across in front.”

Local national cross-country champ Kate Fluker flew across the line in 1:50.14sec to nab the elite women’s title, with the female elite veteran trophy being collected by Denise Thorne from Alexandra in 1:56.15sec.

Queenstown’s Brett Strachan finished in 1:47.14sec – the fastest in the men’s masters section, with the masters-plus section won by Colin McKee of Invercargill.

About 690 people took part in the annual race, in its third year, including recreational riders who followed a more leisurely 36km course.

Race organiser Geoff Hunt says it’s the only time people have access through Coneburn Station – part of the appeal of the event.

“It was a stunning day and the feedback from the competitors was fantastic. It is always good to see new competitors and everyone, whatever level, can take part without any pressure.”

The event raised $3300 for charity Cure Kids, and about $2000 worth of beverage sales at the finish line will be donated to the Wakatipu Trails Trust.