Tropical North Queensland, where everything can kill you, and will probably try… including Mother Nature. After covering the rocks in mud for yesterday’s downhill, the sun came out in backpacker-blistering force today, right in time to cook the world’s best cross country racers. On went the ice vests and out went the mud on a rapidly drying track.
It was another unreal day for Australian racers, with top tens in both the Elites and Under 23s. Buoyed by the screaming hordes gathered around the course’s pointiest bits, Bec Henderson and Dan McConnel absolutely flogged themselves and grabbed two huge results. In her first year in Elites, Bec Henderson had set herself the goal of a top ten this season – she got it on the very first round of the series, admitting she’d pushed far harder than planned with the crowd driving her on. McConnell, after finishing the World Cup season second last year, got things started on the right foot. He rode a flawless race to fourth. This is a man looks very comfortable at the fast end of a World Cup. He’s tasted victory and wants more.
You can view the full results here (Elite men’s and women’s, plus Under 23s guys and gals). Now feast your head windows on our gallery below!
Cam Ivory was today’s best placed U23 Aussie, with an 8th. He grinds up the last few pinches of the XCO climb.
Belgian Jeff Luyten digs deep.
The upper rock garden was causing fewer problems than when it was wet, but this section of crash netting still caught more than a few riders today.
Appreciate this photo. It is very hard to focus on a moving leaf cutter ant.
Under 23 Ethan Kelly just cracked into the top twenty.
Yep. It’s seriously, seriously steep dropping into the Jacob’s Ladder A-line.
Trek Factory Racing’s Emily Batty rode into second today. She was clearly ecstatic with the result. Lap one climb.
Gritting teeth and getting it done. Bec Henderson rode out of her skin for a top ten in her first Elite World Cup.
The entrance into the Rodeo Drop was far less troublesome in the dry. A wide-eyed Elisabeth Osl.
Emily Batty hucks into the Rodeo Drop on the bell lap.
Julie Bresset, before things turned sour.
World Champ Julie Bresset had a day to forget. This massive tumble on Jacbos Ladder ended her day.
Kiwi Katie O’Neill. 25th today.
Eva Lechner. The tiny Italian skims her way down the rocks.
Eva Lechner throws her hands in the air. She just don’t care. Cos she won a World Cup.
Hugs for a champion. Eva Lechner, your Cairns World Cup Women’s XCO winner.
And a smooch for Irina Kalentieva. Fifth for the experienced Russian.
Dan McConnell gets warmed up. Well, more warmed up – it was a toasty day.
Who recognises this man? That’s right, it’s Miguel Martinez, Sydney Olympic Gold Medallist, back once again after 18 years. He last raced Cairns at the World Champs in 1996.
Kulhavy. Itching to get going.
Start line nerves.
The lower half of the descent looked so good we wanted to nab a bike and give it a run. Loads of doubles, rollers and berms.
The vibe at Jacobs Ladder was unreal! Thomas Litshcer.
Absalon got a front flat on his second lap and Flückiger (taking the A-line) pounced.
Absalon. Even with a flat tyre, the man is just about unstoppable. He powered back to the front and opened up an unassailable lead.
Andy Blair had a good day today, cracking into the top 30 with 28th. He looked on form – awesome to see him back in Cairns.
Flückiger. Style for miles.
Fontana. Our favourite baggy-wearing Italian.
The larger than life Paul Van Der Ploeg bombs down Crocslide. That’s a lot of Victorian to decelerate.
Martinez. Still killing it.
Julien does it once again. World Cup win 28. It’s almost hard to believe.
Kulhavy didn’t have his best day out. 10th for the big praying mantis. He make a 29er look like a 26″.
D-Mac, D-Mac, D-Mac! After high five-ing the whole finish straight, Dan McConnell takes a fourth.
Ooo, lovers! XCM Champ Jenny Fay sneaks a finish line pash.
Absalon. Job done. What’s next?