Connor Fearon, Tegan Molloy and Paul Van der Ploeg have all recorded wins to complete an Australian Elite-level whitewash of the 2015 Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Tooowoomba, Queensland presented by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).
Downhill mountain bike racing is said to be one of the hardest challenges in world sport, requiring a unique combination of skill, fitness and bravery.
In the Elite Men’s race, the hot favourite for the win was local Jared Graves (QLD), a rider who has helped design and build the ‘McKenzie Frenzy’ course.
Graves is a true superstar in the world of cycling, and the 2014 Enduro World Champion has almost unparalleled results across a myriad of dirt cycling disciplines.
Today Graves was fast enough on his home track to walk away with the silver, but it was Connor Fearon (SA) who was on fire, finishing the challenging course in 2m 40.16s to earn the title of Oceania Champion.
On finishing in front of Jared Graves: “I wasn’t expecting that,” Fearon said. “It’s his track and he’s riding really well and he’s fitter than anyone else so I knew he’d be almost impossible to beat.
“I’m sure he’ll be trying harder on Sunday so I’ll have to try to stay in front of him.
“Last year I did well but I was actually pretty disappointed. I had some crashes and some bad luck. So this year I want to be in the top 20 every race and fight for a podium at each race and hopefully finish inside the top ten this year.”
Bronze went to 2013 Oceania Downhill champion Chris Kovarik (QLD).
In women’s racing, Tegan Molloy (NSW) is the reigning Junior World Champion but has stepped up to the Elite in 2015, and she continued her rapid ascent to the top with her second win at the highest level delivering her the Oceania Championship.
“It’s pretty cool to get a title in the Elite ranks coming up from junior, it’s a bit of a step up and I was stoked to come away with the win today,” said Molloy.
“This is the first time I’ve been here [to Toowoomba] – this morning it was pretty tricky to ride, it was so muddy I was just struggling for the bike to roll so I only ended up having one practice run, so I was coming in to racing a little bit blind.
She spoke of the challenge that awaits in two week’s time at the National Championships: “Tracey [Hannah] will be there – it should be a good battle between us I think. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”
Second place went to Sophie Tyas (NZL) and third to Michelle Crisp (NSW).
Special mention goes to Richie Rude Jr (USA) and Claire Buchar (CAN) who are not riders from within the Oceania-confederation, but who both walked away with the fastest times of the day.
Cross Country Eliminator
Today also saw the Elite Men battle it out to be crowned the 2015 Oceania Cross Country Eliminator Champion, a title that was eventually bestowed upon Australia’s Paul van der Ploeg (VIC).
In his first Eliminator race since the UCI World Championships in 2014, van der Ploeg rode strongly against New Zealand’s Cross Country National Champion Anton Cooper in an exciting final that saw riders go up against tough conditions.
“It was pretty crazy racing with lots of rain last night, the course was very muddy for the time trial,” said van der Ploeg.
The 2013 Eliminator World Champion from Victoria has spent much of the last 18 months recovering from two shoulder reconstructions, but said he is happy with his performance today and excited to be back on the trails.
“It’s been awhile since I won something so it’s a good confidence booster and really good mentally to get a win on the board, especially against someone like Anton who is a super fast rider,” van der Ploeg explained.
The mountain bike action continues with the final round of the 2014/15 Subaru National Series, where Australia’s best riders will once again take to the Cross Country course in an attempt to take out the National Series crown.
For all Oceania and Series information, please visit:
For full 2015 Oceania Championship Results: