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.

Alex Hunt and Stephen Matthews are in prime position at the halfway point of the 2013 Blue Dragon Mountain Bike Challenge.

Alex Hunt and Stephen Matthews are in prime position at the halfway point of the 2013 Blue Dragon Mountain Bike Challenge.