Irishman wins epic 170km stage in one of world’s toughest MTB races

Posted on: August 27th, 2015

Ryan Sherlock takes victory at the end of the 170km stage 5. He is in Mongolia this week competing in one of the toughest off-road stage races in the world and is right in the mix for overall honours.


By Brian Canty

A top Irish domestic road race rider in recent years, Ryan Sherlock has won a stage of one of the most difficult off-road stage races in the world, the Mongolian Mountain Bike Challenge.

The Monaghan man was first across the line on stage 5 yesterday, Thursday, which brought him to within striking distance of the overall win going into the final two stages on Friday and Saturday.

Sherlock, the only Irishman in the race, battled the other strong men throughout the 170-kilometre journey on Thursday, with 1,730 metres of climbing, to emerge the victor.

The riders have to contend with blistering temperatures by day and freezing conditions by night.


The race consists of seven stages and brings the riders through some very tough, though spectacular, countryside.


The stage Sherlock won took the riders along a valley floor for some 40 kilometres before tackling the first of the day’s ascents.

Eventually, after a period of attacking, a group of seven went clear with race leader Nicholas Pettina (Italy) there along with Sherlock and five others.

With 35 kilometres to go and the gradient beginning to bite, Pettina, Sherlock and two more struck out, though one rider would puncture and have his hopes of glory ended.

The three leaders pressed on, with Sherlock dropping race leader Pettina and eventual third-place finisher Miguel Iniesta of Spain.


When the really strong men pulled clear on Thursday’s stage 5, Sherlock was among them and proved to have too much in the tank for the others to live with.


Pettina managed to claw his way back to Sherlock and the two finished on the same time, but the Irishman was given the verdict in the sprint that decided it. Iniesta was some four minutes back.

Friday’s penultimate stage is a 47km TT with plenty of climbing, which should suit the Irishman.

He has switched from road back to mountain biking this season and was one of the best time trial riders and climbers on the domestic road scene in recent years.

The final stage on Saturday is only 86 kilometres but has almost 1,500 metres of climbing so Sherlock will be looking to pull back the time he needs to be crowned champion.

The event is ridden by pros and top amateurs. Sherlock’s win on Thursday follows his victory on stage 2 of the Beskidy MTB Trophy in Poland in June.