Racing: Graves and King win National XCO Round 1

Words by Flow | Images by Kaneophoto.com, Russell Baker

Us

This is EXACTLY what the XCO National Series needed to get people excited! Jared Graves – Enduro World Series Champion and Downhill World Champs podium getter – standing atop the podium at a National XCO. Absolutely unreal.

Now we don’t want to take anything away from the awesome performance of Jenni King in the women’s race (National Champ, once again!), but it’s Graves’ performance that has chins wagging. Graves had declared his intentions to get to the very top of Australian XCO last year when he rode to sixth in the XCO National Champs, but surely everyone is still a little bit surprised to see him come out and win in such a convincing fashion in Adelaide, especially with a mechanical that left him without suspension for five laps!

Jared Graves Elite Men Winner - Credit Kaneophoto

 

Them

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Jared Graves (QLD) and Jenni King (VIC) have won the Cross Country Olympic races at the first round of the Subaru National Mountain Bike Season in Adelaide.

Riders faced a challenging course while completing laps of the Eagle Mountain Bike Park cross country course in Adelaide’s hills, and tough conditions in hot and windy weather.

In the Elite Men’s race, the simple version of the story is that Graves led from start to finish. Things were far more complex than that, however.

Graves, known for his ability to ride at an Elite level in almost any cycling discipline, has been World Champion in Mountain Biking’s Four Cross in 2009 and is regularly on the world podium in both the Down-Hill and Enduro disciplines.

Graves started strongly in todays race, with a close chasing group of Cameron Ivory (NSW), Brendan Johnston (ACT) and Michael Crosbie (VIC) at the end of the first lap.

During lap 2 Graves’ forks collapsed, and to the amazement of all he kept riding strongly. On the same lap, Crosbie made a passing move up to second place, and was made aware by spectators that the leading Graves was hampered due to his bike problems, and while he tried he couldn’t quite chase down the powering Graves.

Graves talked about his mechanical issue. “It caused my arms to be more tired than my legs, I could barely hold on”.

The race was his first National Cross-Country round win since being a junior 13 years ago. Graves was happy with the result, and other cross country riders may need to be on the lookout for some even stronger performances. “I’ve had 12 months of solid aerobic training, and I’m looking to build on this some more even”.

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In the Elite Women’s race, Tori Thomas (VIC), Jenni King (VIC) and Peta Mullens (VIC) dominated the field throughout.

Thomas led the race for the first 5 laps, with Mullens sitting tight behind in second.

Thomas, who would ultimately finish second, said “I was pleased to be mixing it up at the front, I had a pretty good lead at one stage but then I had a problem on a descent, but I’m really happy with today’s result”.

Eventual winner King was happy to sit in 3rd place for much of the race. “I went out fairly hard and then settled into a rhythm. I actually thought that I went out too hard and that’s why I backed off a fair bit.

She made her move on the second-last lap and managed to hold off Thomas in a sprint finish. “I thought with 2 laps to go I’m going to give it everything and really worked the descents and the little punchy hills”.

For the DownHill event, Saturday is the timed seeding day, where riders compete for start times in Sunday’s finals.

Danielle Beecroft had the fastest time (2:34.06) for Elite Women in her first official race in the category after stepping up from juniors. “I was pretty happy, I just cruised down and had some fun and I’ll see how I go tomorrow”.

In the Elite Men’s seeding, local Connor Fearon led the field with the fastest overall time (2:02.87) of the day. “It was pretty slippery, I think the key was to keep your speed consistent and not try too hard”.

Both will lead racing in Sunday’s Downhill finals as the first round of the series to an action-packed close.

Yesterday’s racing saw the Cross Country Eliminator format. Reigning Oceania Champion Rowena Fry was the hot favourite in the Elite Women’s final, and she raced Sarah Holmes (SA), Emily Parkes (NSW) and young gun Sarah Tucknott (WA).

Just as in the Oceania Championships, Parkes started strong leading the field onto the first climb. Unfortunately Parkes lost traction on the inside line and crashed allowing the rest of the field to pass.

From this position Fry took the lead, never looking back to claim the Round 1 XCE win. Holmes claimed second place in a sprint finish behind Fry and Parkes managed to recover from her earlier crash claiming final podium position in third.

In the Elite Men’s Eliminator, Cameron Ryan (SA) led the field from the gun, and maintained a lead in a close race from the fastest seeded Ivory.

Both riders negotiated the technical elements well, and on the final corner, Ivory made a strong passing move and then maintained his efforts to out-sprint the local Ryan to take the win. Third place went to Connor Mackne (NSW).

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