Gold for Blair and Johnston at the Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Blue Derby

Words by MTBA | Images by Heath Holden/MTBA

ACT riders Brendan Johnston and Jenny Blair claimed maiden Australian titles today, winning gold at the 2015 Cross Country Marathon (XCM) Championships in Derby, Tasmania, presented by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).

The weekend saw two days of exciting mountain bike racing, with age-group riders competing on the Saturday and Elite riders battling for gold on the Sunday, resulting in hundreds of riders and spectators descending on the picturesque riverside town of DerbyMark Tupalski (ACT) and Brendan Johsnton (ACT) led the Elite Men’s race after lap one, with 2014 champion Andy Blair (ACT) sitting in third.

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Johnston leads Tupalski.

EliteMenWinnerBrendanJohnstonCrossesTheLine_CreditHeathHolden

Elite Men Winner Brendan Johnston crosses the line.

In what may mark a handover to the next generation of marathon riders, young guns Tupalski and Johnston sat neck and neck for the first two laps.

Descending hard on the final lap, Johnston built an insurmountable lead and rode away with the win.

“I wasn’t overly confident coming in to today,” said Johnston. “I’ve been on it for awhile, since the beginning of the National Series, so I’m getting towards the end of my peak I think and I was worried I might be over the hill but I was able to pull this one out so I’m really happy.

Tupalski and Blair finished in second and third respectively. 

Mens podium. Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships.

Mens podium. Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships.

In the Elite Women’s race, Jenny Blair (ACT) led the pack from the get go, securing herself a two minute lead by the second lap, which she extended to almost 10 minutes on her way to the title. 

“I took advantage of the climb at the start and got away,” Blair explained.  “The girls got back to me a bit but I knew that I’d been training with a change of pace recently so if I could just keep changing the pace I’d wear them out and keep going on my own and that’s exactly what happened.” Irish-born Blair spoke highly of the Blue Derby trails and said she was happy to now have jerseys from both Australia and Ireland.

Elite womens winner Jenny Blair and elite mens winner Brendan Johnston at the podium_Credit_Heath_Holden

Elite women winner Jenny Blair and elite mens winner Brendan Johnston at the podium.

“It is hard racing on them [the Blue Derby Trails] but for the everyday person who wants to come here for the weekend, it’s just amazing.  “The trails are just so manicured – you can really rail it or you can just enjoy it.”

Eliza Kwan (ACT) and Rebecca Locke (VIC) rounded out the podium in second and third. 

Elite women winner, Jenny Blair finishes the Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships at Derby on Sunday.

Elite women winner, Jenny Blair finishes the Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships at Derby on Sunday.

Elite women second place getter, Eliza Kwan is congratulated by third place getter Rebecca Locke.

Elite women second place getter, Eliza Kwan is congratulated by third place getter Rebecca Locke.

In Saturday’s action, local favourite Alex Lack (TAS) dealt well with the pressure of riding at home, taking out the Junior Men’s Marathon title, while Mikayla Wolfe (VIC) won the Under 17 Women’s title.  Spectators were treated to a variety of entertainment over the weekend, including local food stalls and live music.

This is the first time a National race has been held on the Blue Derby trails, with the former mining town enjoying a resurgence, forming a new identity around an ever-expanding mountain bike trail network.

This weekend’s Championship race was also Round 7 of the World Mountain Bike Marathon Series, presented by the UCI, and is a key qualifying criteria for riders to be named on the Australian team for the annual UCI Marathon World Championships.

The Dance with the Devil – XCM National Championships was delivered by a joint partnership between MTBA, Dorset Council and Launceston Mountain Bike Club and MTBA will be returning to Derby next year for the 2016 XCM National Championships. 

Full results can be found at onlineresults.com.au.

Get more info on Derby’s amazing new mountain bike trails here – Flow Nation, Derby, Tasmania.

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