Alfredo Gomez came out the winner at the 2017 Red Bull Hare Scramble, with 500 riders lining up for the event, but only 25 finishing within the four-hour time limit. Gomez led this 25, with a time of two hours and 17 minutes, after facing stiff opposition from Jonny Walker and Graham Jarvis.
Every year, Red Bull Hare Scramble puts the world’s best riders to the test like no other race on the Enduro calendar. It offers steep climbs, scree fields and forest stages; all paced by infamous Machine, Bathtub, Carl’s Dinner, Green Hell and Dynamite sections.
Shortly after the start, three-time Erzberg winner Jonny Walker (GBR) took the lead ahead of Wade Young (RSA), Cody Webb (USA) and Billy Bolt (GBR). But Gomez quickly appeared on Walker’s heels followed by Webb and Bolt, while Young fell back into fifth.
At the Carl‘s Dinner section, Gomez finally overtook Walker. Last year’s winner Graham Jarvis (GBR) also came back charging, leaving Walker in his dust. But Gomez kept on building his lead.
Jarvis tried to defend his title, but Gomez was just too strong and after 2 hours and 17 minutes, the Spaniard reached the Erzberg Rodeo Arena in first. The chequered flag was waved, crowds cheered, and Gomez enjoyed his second triumph here, two years after his first win in 2015.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have won the Hare Scramble. I knew it would be difficult, like Erzberg always is, so I worked really hard to be ready for this race. That hard work with my team has really paid off. The race went really well for me, apart from a small crash about 300 meters from the start. That lost me some time, but I managed to catch up quite quickly and I knew I could do it. I felt good, got through most of the difficult sections well. It was such a great feeling to get to the top of the last major climb. This is the biggest win of my career, it feels incredible.”
Just over three minutes behind eventual winner Gomez, Jarvis rode yet another highly impressive race around the Iron Giant. Once again overcoming a cautious start and having to work his way passed countless riders during the faster, dustier sections of the course, once into the more technical sections he worked his way towards the front but ultimately ran out of time to challenge for the win. However, thanks to a sensational comeback, Jarvis crossed the line in second place 3 minutes and 22 seconds later. Webb took third to complete the podium.
“I’m happy with second. Hats off to Alfredo he was very strong, he rode a great race, and I just wasn’t able to get close enough to him early enough. I didn’t get a good start and then lost five or six positions when I messed up one of the hills. I was behind then in some of the single file wood sections. I had to fight my way back. But I felt pretty strong during the second half of the race. I pushed through Karl’s Dinner and made up some time there. I seemed to get a little energy back after Karl’s Dinner, things were pretty close to Gomez – if he’d have made a mistake I might have been able to catch him. I don’t have any complaints, it was a difficult as it always is but there’s not too much I’d change. The younger riders are getting more experienced so I’m pleased with second.”
Determined to go all out and improve on his 2016 Red Bull Hare Scramble result of second, Cody Webb’s speed at the start of the race consequentially saw the American struggle with arm pump mid-way through the Hare Scramble.
“Second last year, third this year, I’m pleased with that. Alfredo and Graham were really strong, congrats to them. I got a great start but I possibly pushed a little too hard. I felt good racing with Jonny and Wade Young but I suffered with my arms, especially when I got to Karl’s Dinner – they locked solid. I kept pushing and thankfully they freed off. Back-to-back podiums here at Erzberg is awesome.”
While it was Gomez who topped the event and Webb who rounded out the podium it was former three-time winner Jonny Walker who lead during much of the first hour of racing. Muscling his way around the first turn and into an early lead, Walker set the pace during the early, high-paced series of check points. The first rider to start the infamous Karl’s Dinner section, Jonny eventually placed fifth 10 minutes behind Gomez.
“I got a great start and was going really well early on, I opted for a specific tyre choice, but unfortunately it didn’t work out as I hoped it would. I really suffered with it to be honest, especially during the later sections of the race. I felt like I was riding well and that I had the speed to win, and felt good leading for much of the first hour. But I was having to carry my bike over too much stuff because of my tyre choice, rather than being able to ride up and over it. I started to find things difficult when we got to the woods, I just didn’t have the traction I hoped for. I rode as hard as I could through Karl’s Dinner but I again struggled on some of the climbs towards the end. It’s disappointing because I know I’m riding well and my bike was awesome, but this result doesn’t show it.”
Just five minutes behind Walker, Paul Bolton claimed a well-deserved sixth place result having reached the finish just 15 minutes behind winner Gomez. Erzberg’s youngest ever hare Scramble finisher Manni Lettenbichler finished eighth.
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