Words by MTBA | Images by Peter Hosking

Cameron Ivory (NSW) and Rebecca Henderson (ACT) conquered a punishing course to take out Round 3 of the 2017 XCO National Series in Armidale on Saturday.

Despite having little time on the mountain bike heading into the season, the Newcastle rider showed a change of coach in the off-season has paid off, finishing in a time of 1:46:21, 33 seconds ahead of Brendan Johnston (ACT) and Jared Graves (QLD) after eight laps.

Jared Graves made an appearance, finishing an impressive third.

Jared Graves made an appearance, finishing an impressive third.

“Coming in here I didn’t know what to expect with all the quick guys and I knew Trekky (Brendan Johnston) would be hard to beat as always,” Ivory remarked.

“For me it’s the start of a new mountain bike racing year coming into the European season, and it should be a good year.”

It wasn’t the opening round reigning national series champion Daniel McConnell had hoped for, crashing in the rock garden before removing himself from the race with three laps to go.

That left Johnston and Graves to chase down Ivory who looked strong right to the finish on a course that physically punished the riders with tough climbs and tougher descents.

“Coming into the second lap thought I’d test the legs and see who could come with me,” said Ivory.

“I knew it was a good course for Gravesy with all the skills work out there so I just tried to get a little gap and hold it.”

Johnston, who has been racing on the road recently found the early going tough.

“It was hard first up and the track really made the day pretty solid with that punchy climb right in the middle every lap and with the obstacles you never got a rest and you had to work hard the whole time.”

In the elite women, Henderson was pushed all the way during her win in by Anna Beck (QLD) in second and Holly Harris (NSW) in third in her winning time of 1:36:16.

Bec Henderson took the win in the elite women.

Bec Henderson took the win in the elite women.

“That was seriously brutal all day and my heart-rate was always in the 180’s, which is very high for me,” Henderson commented.

The 18 women had 6 laps of the punishing course.

“I was seriously suffering on the last two laps,” said the national series reigning champion

“The middle bit suited me really well and I was able to get up the rock pinches and got a little bit of time there. I hated the climb though, you had to pedal and pedal and you wanted to rest but you couldn’t.”

Beck, who was looking for her second win of the series, faced a tough mental battle as Henderson kept pulling away in the rock garden section.

“I could feel myself catching her on the climbs and on the rest of the course there was a bit of cat and mouse, but she had one up on me today,” Beck said.

In the junior women New Zealand’s Jessica Manchester spoilt the possibility of a home town win for Katherine Hosking, who finished second, taking vital UCI points in a time of 1:09:37 seconds.

Cameron Wright (QLD), who averaged just over 13 minutes a lap in the junior men’s race, produced a dominant performance to take the top step of the podium ahead of Matt Dinham (NSW) and Kian Lerch-Mackinnon (VIC).

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