GU Energy NZ Athlete, Josh Burnett, recently managed to take out the Prospector MTB Stage race in Central Otago for the second time. Josh gives us his race report before he headed off again to the Gold Coast for the Oceania MTB Champs and the Oceania Road Race.
After a busy summer of racing both off and on the road, my partner Ben Oliver and myself travelled down to Alexandra in Central Otago for New Zealand’s premier MTB stage race, The Prospector. As the inaugural champions from last year we were keen to defend our title.
We arrived on Thursday and after a quick ride around the trails of stage one it was time to register and get ready for the first stage, the prologue time trial on Friday morning. As the defending champions we had a bit of pressure starting first with all the other teams having the advantage of being able to chase us.
The steep climbs and rocky descents combined with some very strong winds made it a pretty challenging start to the weekend. We managed to get the stage win by a mere 11 seconds over The Kiwi MTB Collective team and knew it was all to play for heading into stage two.
The 7:45am race start meant a wake up time of 5:00am both Saturday and Sunday. The standard pre race porridge and coffee were a bit harder to get down then usual at the time of the morning but we knew we have to fuel up for the big day ahead of us. After quickly prepping my camelbak with gels and filling up my bottles with roctane drink mix, we were off to the start line. This year the race was split into two waves due to the covid restrictions with about half the field in each wave. Stage 2 winds along some stunning 4WD roads in the Alex hills before the big climbs of the day start around 30km in. Once again The Kiwi MTB Collective were our big challengers and we managed to get a small gap up on the ridge line. It wasn’t easy but we managed to pull the gap out a bit more finishing up with our second stage win by about 45 seconds. Not much after three hard hours of racing! With the early starts it meant early finishes and not much else to do for the rest of the day. A quick drink of the Vanilla Bean recovery mix and then it was down to one of the best cafes in the country (in my opinion) for some lunch with some of the other teams.
Stage three and the queens stage awaited us early Sunday morning, Heading deep into the Alex hills behind the clock for 60km some prime single-track on the Matangi Station, it was fair to say everyone was pretty excited. Knowing we had about a minute up our sleeves Ben and I rode pretty defensively allowing the other teams to set the pace for the majority of the stage. For the third time of the weekend it came down to my team (MitoQ - NZ Cycling Project) vs the Kiwi MTB Collective boys. A fast downhill leading into the finish resulted in a sprint finish between our two teams and we managed to snag our 3rd stage win, an exciting finish to the weekend.
Three big days back to back definitely wouldn’t be possible without a proper nutrition plan and really good products which I was fortunate to have through GU.
In training I tend to use a combination of real food and more solid GU products such as the waffles but when it comes to the race of such intensity, Roctane gels and Roctane drink mix help me get though the tough days out and as always the roctane recovery mix whether it be in a smoothie or by itself, helps aid my recovery.
The Prospector MTB Stage Race is a must do for any keen Mountain Biker in NZ and Ben and I can’t wait to attempt the three-peat next year!