September 10, 2014

This past weekend the Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team travelled over to the Isle of Man for the Manx End to End MTB Race. Ben reports following the event.

“Last year was our first visit to the event and we learnt a lot from that trip. This year we were a lot more prepared and needed to be with 5 riders to support. Sam, Isaac and I were joined by Scott McCarron and Oli Stean, plus 2 supporters John Newport and John Stean. We travelled out in the Vauxhall Vivaro team van on Friday so had the opportunity to pre ride 75% of the track. This was a major advantage on race day. Last year’s wet, cold and muddy conditions were a distant memory: instead we had bright warm sunshine and dusty trails.

“There was some strong competition on the start line including four time winner Nick Craig, last year’s winner Matt Clinton, and Edward Perry and Nick Corlett. Off the start and along the road the pace was very sedate except for the odd little acceleration up one or two small rises. We hit the first climband Isaac and myself were at the front so kept out of trouble but Sam got tangled up with another rider and bent his mech hanger which caused shifting trouble on the steeper parts of the track. Going up the climb I was comfortable following the wheels of Nick Craig and Matt Clinton. As we crested the first climb there was a group of 5 or 6 which included Isaac.

“After safely negotiating the first fast descent and then the second climb we crested over the top of the hill which led down a rough rocky firetrail to Check Point 1. Before the race I’d taken some time to decide whether to ride the Spark full suspension bike or lighter stiffer Scale hardtail. All my rivals were on 29er hardtails but I used the full suspension bike to my advantage on the rougher loose terrain, like the following descent which I led down and was even able to open a small 20 second gap.

“We regrouped and rode together until Check Point 2 at St Johns where Isaac and Nick punctured. To lose effectively two teammates (Nick being a Scott team rider) was a bit of a shock but I hoped they’d be able to rejoin the front of the race so told the rest of the group I wasn’t going to assist with the pace making. A few new riders joined the lead group during the following road section, Isaac rejoined at the top of the next climb but Nick was out of contention having lost too much time and Matt Clinton had to stop to fix a slow puncture.

“After we’d passed through the new Arrasey Plantation trails we headed towards the roughest trails of the race, a narrow rock filled gully with a couple of stream crossings. After this the track started the final long climb of the race with numerous steep loose rough sections. All this was an advantage on my full suspension so it was my opportunity to make a move. I opened a small gap pretty quickly with Isaac being the nearest chaser. I kept the power on confident no one else could match the pace up that long climb. Heart rate 180, legs ok, keep it going.

“Just the final descent to go, keep the bike in one piece, tyres inflated, and stay on course! 45 second gap to Isaac. Safely down through the field descent. Now 5km of flat road before a 2km climb with several steep sections. Ouch my legs feel like I’m about to cramp, please don’t! Can’t slow down yet. Can’t see Isaac behind, he must be there somewhere? Where’s this finish line? Can’t be far?

Sam finishing in 5th place

“Over the line in 1st place with Isaac a short time later in 2nd. Sam finished in 5th winning us the Best Team Award. What a result for all the riders. Sam and Isaac really impressed, they were completely out of their comfort zone; this was nothing like the 1.5 hour cross country races they’re accustomed too. A great way to finish the year. Now time to plan the 2015 season!

The Manx End to End is a real highlight in the schedule. The island has some stunning scenery, there is a huge amount of support from the locals, it’s a fantastic course and well organised. Can’t wait for next year, see you there!

Thanks to our support crew for the weekend. Without John Stean and John Newport (Vermont Images) the race would not have been the huge success it was.”



Our boy's done good!

Post race interview with Manx TV


Thanks to our fantastic sponsors for their continued support.

Follow the team on Facebook. T eam/330790256947713


Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team Rider Roster.

Ben Thomas, Isaac Pucci, Sam Stean, Tim Dunford


Words – Ben Thomas


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