Hunt, Matthews tame the dragon

ALEX Hunt and Stephen Matthews have firmed as strong favourites to win the Blue Dragon Mountain Bike Challenge after a commanding day-1 performance in the hills of the North-East. 

The pair will take a 10-minute lead into today's final 48-kilometre leg and, barring a mishap on the hills of Weldborough, are expected to finish ahead of second-placed Ken Allen and Daniel De Groot, and third-placed Phillip Madsen and Torben Portridge-Madsen. 

Race spokesman Ben Maher said Hunt and Matthews were almost unstoppable during the gruelling 52km loop of Derby.

``I think at one point they got a flat tyre,'' Maher said. ``But that didn't really slow them down too much.'' 

About 200 teams are entered in the challenge, in age categories spanning ``whipper-snappers'' to ``dinosaurs''.

BLUE DRAGON MOUNTAIN BIKE CHALLENGE

THE TOP SIX - DAY 1

Alex Hunt and Stephen Matthews (whipper-snapper age group):  2:32.45, 1;

Ken Allen and Daniel De Groot (midway vets male): 2:42.02, 2;

Phillip Madsen and Torben Portridge-Madsen (young guns male):  2:43.58, 3;

Todd Stanton and Callum Fagg (young guns male): 2:46.59, 4; 

Ross Farrell and Michael Smith (midway vets male):  2:48.01, 5; 

Richard Wilkinson and Michael Berry (golden oldies male):  2:49.52, 6.

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