Yak Attack: Single Track Edition
Reigning 3-time winner, and current 3-time 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race World Champion, Cory Wallace, defends his title, while Nepali Budhi Bahadur Tamang (Roan) takes 2nd and uses the training to win the South Asian Games Cross-Country Mountain Bike Gold two weeks later.
The Yak Attack organising team wanted to change the race this year and added two stages full of singletrack, a new trail on Stage 3, and the world’s highest timed ‘Enduro’ section to make this edition an unforgettable one.
Stage 1 was a loop around Besisahar of Lamjung district, allowing racers to experience the trails and views before the race started climbing around the circuit. Three-time reigning champion Cory Wallace, determined to start his title defense properly, won the stage followed by Roan Tamang.
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Stage 2 is one of the harder stages from Besisahar to Chame 2,900m with the first 40 km undulating. Wallace, looking to put a gap on the rest, rode the 66-km stage in under 4 hours, a new course record and nearly an hour ahead of second place Tamang.
Stage 3 took riders to Manang village (3,500 meters) adding a diversion to previous years that included a new singletrack climbing and descending via Ghyaruin to Manang. Wallace and Tamang continued their hold on the race finishing 1-2 again.
After the rest day, Stage 4 took riders on 100% singletrack from Manang to Phedi, a 16km stage that is one of the hardest riding. Wallace and Tamang continued to lead, but 3rd place was a battle between 4 riders all within less than 20 minutes.
Stage 5 crosses Thorong La at 5,416m, and is the most-feared stage of Yak Attack and can completely change the results. At 27km it is not the longest stage, but the first3 km is a near-vertical ascent that can take up to 4 hours for the average racer.
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The downhill after the pass included a timed ‘Enduro’ section, the highest in the world. While Wallace won the overall stage, followed closely by Tamang, fellow Canadian and Kona Bikes teammate, Rhys Verner, tied Tamang on the timed Enduro stage. He also finished 3rd overall for the day, a comfortable 29 min ahead of 4th place, securing him 3rd overall in the race.
Stage 6 was the new ‘Single Track’ that took riders on a loop from Kagbeni and Lubra Valley bringing them back to the finish. Wallace continued his dominance, while Verner finished a close second. Tamang had a slower day finishing off the podium, but kept enough of a lead to remain in second place for the race.
The final stage took riders from Kagbeni to Tatopani for a soak in the hot springs before the group ride and bus transfer to Pokhara for the closing ceremony. Wallace easily closed his 4th straight Yak Attack victory, while Tamang finished in 2nd place and Verner in 3rd. Claire Demarquet won the female category, while Harka Lama won the 40+ age group for the second straight year.
Yak Attack will return in 2020 with a similar singletrack version and is currently offering a first-come, first-serve, early entry sale.
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South Asian Games Segway
Following the Yak Attack, former National Champion, Roan, who had missed qualifications due to injury, was a last minute call up to the South Asian Games XCO Mountain Bike Race. Using his fitness from Yak Attack, he dominated the race from the starting gun, leading start to finish to win the Gold Medal as Nepalis swept the podium in all mountain bike events for the Games.
Coming up in January 2020 is the Pokhara IV, a 4-day stage race based out of Pokhara. Initiated by MTB-Worldwide, the creators of Yak Attack, it is an entry-level mountain bike stage race for riders to experience Nepal without the risk of altitude. The clover leaf format starting and finishing each day at Lakeside through iconic landmarks like the World Peace Pagoda and Begnas Lake with plenty of course shortcuts.
New for 2020 is the option to just participate for the two days of the weekend (25-26 January)
to coincide with Chinese New Year. Pokhara IV takes place 25-28 January and entries are still open, with special discounts for local and expat riders.