Otway Odyssey MTB presented By FOCUS

  • Australia (AUS)
  • Off-Road Cycling

The Otway Odyssey MTB Delivers Good Hard Racing

Press Release / 24.02.2024See All Event Posts Follow Event
Tali Lane-Welsh wins the 2024 Otway Odyssey
Tali Lane-Welsh wins the 2024 Otway Odyssey / © Rapid Ascent

The Otway Odyssey MTB Marathon presented by Focus delivered us another epic race of good, hard racing on Saturday 24 February, 2024 at the 18th edition of the event in Forrest, Victoria.

Young-gun Tali Lane-Welsh and 3-time Odyssey winner Bec Henderson both rode at record-breaking pace taking finish line honours in the prestigious 100km MTB race amongst stellar fields.

Once again, the events’ high standard and long-standing history drew many of Australia’s best mountain bike riders to the race on a weekend that saw 1,800 riders tested their skill and endurance over the infamous flowing single track that Forrest is renowned for.

In the elite men’s division newcomer to the race Lane-Welsh was locked and loaded for the win posting an impressive course record time of 4:27:38, after gunning for an early breakaway and finishing 2 minutes clear of Dan McConnell in second (4:29:13) and Brendan ‘Trekky’ Johnston in third (4:29:36).

“Honestly I'm stoked with the win!” said Lane-Welsh who’s new to the cross country (XC) racing scene.

“Before XC I was doing downhill races and I thought maybe I'd be better going up the hill, rather than down them, so here I am now giving it a crack!” said Lane-Welsh.

“I didn't have a plan going into the race; I just knew I wanted to be up the front going downhill and then the gap opened up,” recounted Lane-Welsh. “So I pressed on harder and harder and despite being in the hurt box, managed to keep it keep going.”

It was a solid who’s who in mountain biking field with the race putting on a brilliant showcase of technical riding on the infamous tough trails in the Otway’s, and as McConnell says, Tali was just too good to reign back in!

“Tali got away super early and no one seemed to give him much respect and I'm like ‘this guy’s proper good’!” said McConnell. “He’s played his cards well today so for me personally it was to ride consistent and save what I had for the finish. So I'm still super happy with that.”

Henderson secured her third Otway Odyssey title in the female division, powering through the course with inspiring determination to clock a time of 5:16:34 over Courtney Sherwell (5:24:08) and Zoe Cuthbert (5:25:46).

“I enjoyed today’s race the most out of all the Otway Odyssey’s I’ve done,” said Henderson who spent most of the race on her own after breaking away from the pack at the 30km mark.

“It’s a hard day out there up front; I did keep wondering where the top men were, and in that last loop I really had to nurture myself and listen to my legs,” continued Henderson. “For me it's important to be smart about my race and not burn unnecessary energy when you're vying for the win.”

It was a fiercely contested elite female division with Sherwell and Cuthbert working hard in the field with the likes of Samara Sheppard and Ella Bloor in the mix.

“My climbing legs were on today and they felt good so I could dig deep in that last climb and bring it home strong past Zoe (Cuthbert),” said Sherwell.

The 50km Otway Shorty event was equally as challenging especially on some of the classic single track sections. The men’s race was won by world-cup enduro pro Ryan Gilchrist posting a time of 2:16:02, with Ben May in second (2:19:40) and Emmanuel Hovette in third (2:21:59).

Gilchrist started racing XC as a grom and happily states, “you can take the boy out of the XC, but you can't take the XC out of the boy!”

“I had so much fun and that’s what I set out to do today,” added Gilchrist on the win. “I was pushing really hard on the opening section and just did my thing weaving and winding – then the Red Carpet (descent) was a sick section for me and that single track is where I can lay it down and recover a little bit too.”

Talented 16 year old Ruby Taylor was our female 50km winner in a time of 2:31:38 with an outstanding display of riding.

“It was a good race. I went out hard, and then I kept going hard and then I finished hard!” said Taylor. “That first set of single track has a lot of weaving between trees which I love; it really was just so much fun!”

Elizabeth Nuspan was in second place (2:38:03) and Katriina Dower was in third (2:41:53).

The events continue tomorrow, Sunday 25 February, with 300 riders in the 30km Odyssey Rookie which incorporates our Odyssey Angels (female-only) race start and initiatives. Results will be found live online HERE.

The Great Otway Gravel Grind (known as “The GOGG”) is also on Sunday’s program with many Odyssey riders backing-up. Races include the Big Ring 97km, and Small Ring 49km courses, both featuring the smooth rolling dirt roads of the Otway Ranges, and the popular time-out zones.

Event organisers Rapid Ascent were thrilled with the riding on show so far this weekend.

“These courses are tough, but their tough for a reason – it brings people together and allows mountain bikers to really test themselves and have a crack,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager of Rapid Ascent. “It’s why we love designing courses that feature those long flowing sections of single track that everyone seems to just love; and the lung-busting climbs that leave that lasting tough memory from the Odyssey!

“Thank you to everyone for continually supporting the Odyssey event weekend as we celebrate 18 years; and to the locals of Forrest who frequently dedicate their time to helping maintain these epic trails,” added Maffett.



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