Born in Whistler from the heart of the Crankworx festival is Slopesyle, the ultimate spectacle. No clocks, just a judging panel to crown the winner of this unique event.
The baby faced Canadian, Brett Rheeder took it out with a clean and flawless run ahead of the madly spinning Nicolai Rogatkin, Martin Soderstrom was looking like he was the one, but judges were looking hard for the best display from all areas of judging criteria.
1. Brett Rheeder 2. Nicolai Rogatkin 3. Thomas Genon 4. Martin Soderstrom 5. Logan Peat 6. Sam Reynolds 7. Tomas Zejda 8. Tomas Lemoine 9. Sam Pilgrim 10. Louis Reboul 11. Paul Genovese 12. Antoine Bizet 13. Greg Watts 14. Brandon Semenuk 15. Kelly McGarry 16. Simon Pages 17. Carson Storch 18. Tyler McCaul 19. Cam Zink 20. Anthony Messere
The day that many were waiting for, the Enduro. In the Crankworx calendar was a particularly large event, the first round of the highly anticipated Enduro World Series.
The first round of any series brings a buzz of excitement with everything new again, and this case with the whole EWS show still in its relative infancy all eyes were turned on Rotorua for the season opener. And what happened up in the forests of the famous mountain biking town in New Zealand will leave a legacy, and a reputation for one of the most demanding and exciting races we’ve seen yet.
Seven stages, with an immensely wide variety of terrain that served up a unique challenge in each. The liaison stages were long, and the riders were certainly pushed in all aspects of their ability, in true enduro fashion.
It was a French affiar at the pointy end of the pro men and women’s field with a closely fought battle. Jerome Clemetz, and Anne Caroline Chausson taking the top steps.
The spectators were loud, and the forest was howling with mad fans baying for blood and to catch a glimpse of the big internationals slaying their trails. It’s a real spectacle to spectate in an EWS race, and the whole concept is exciting to watch unfold. With a new appreciation for how tough and crazy fast the top riders are, we eagerly await round two in Ireland, 8 weeks time.
Join Enduro rippers Damien Oton and Theo Galy on a pre-season training mission in Portugal’s paradisiacal Azores region.
Fifteen hundred kilometers from mainland Europe, the nine islands of the Azores spring from the Atlantic, forming a volcanic archipelago covered in lush forest and featuring fast, flowing descents. Oton and Galy charge singletrack mainstays such as “The Cathedral”, rip ancient fishermen’s trails, and explore cultural quirks from stew brewed in the earth’s bowels—a local delicacy—to high-temp hot spring therapy.
WORLD’S TOP GRAVITY MOUNTAIN BIKERS DESCEND ON THE LAND DOWN UNDER
Triple Crown of Slopestyle, Crankworx Series titles, King & Queen of Crankworx World Tour underway.
One explosive week of mountain biking is about to unfold in Rotorua, New Zealand, where the first round of the Crankworx World Tour sets the stage for a year of heady competition.
Launching the three-stop tour in the volcanic region of New Zealand known for its boiling mud and “dirt gold,” the inaugural Crankworx Rotorua will blaze a new trail for Crankworx, stepping up competition with the first stage of the new Crankworx Series titles, laying the foundation for the King and Queen of the Crankworx World Tour and determining which Slopestyle rider has the first shot at securing the new Triple Crown of Slopestyle.
“The World Tour has really caught the riders’ attention. Whether it’s the race for the Triple Crown or the allure of the four new Crankworx Series competitions, or the new King and Queen titles, Crankworx Rotorua has certainly drawn an unprecedented level of talent,” says Darren Kinnaird, General Manager of the Crankworx World Tour.
Competition opens with the Official Oceania Whip-Off Championships on Wednesday, Mar. 25, where 15-year-old Whip-Off World Champion Finn Iles (CAN) will try to duplicate the stunning performance, which earned him the title in Whistler. A win on Kiwi soil means stealing the title in the adopted homeland of mountain bike photographer Sven Martin, who invented the sport; but pulling out the skill and steeze to reign supreme will not be easy against the likes of Brendan Fairclough (GBR), Eliot Jackson (USA), Brendan Kerr (GBR), and Tyler McCaul (USA), the man who won the first Whip in 2012.
“Last time, there was a lot of pressure because everyone was pushing for me to get in,” says Iles, who won the right to compete in 2014, though under age, via a social media campaign. “When I got there, it turned out it was just a lot of fun and the only pressure was just the pressure I put on myself. And this time, it’s almost like there’s even less pressure. It’s just have fun and see what I can do.”
On Thursday, Mar. 26, riders invited to compete in the Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style will ignite old rivalries and potentially create a few new ones as they try to balance the race for the finish line with the bonus marks available for difficult tricks. Both the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes winner, Cam Zink (USA), and the 2014 Whistler top spot, Kyle Strait (USA), will be back on the track. Meanwhile, New Zealanders will be watching their fellow Kiwis Kelly McGarry, Connor Macfarlane and Phil McLean go head-to-head for the win.
“The field is much deeper than anyone really knows. Martin (Martin Sӧderstrӧm) and I have been the most consistent in Speed and Style finishes, but with the format being so volatile, and the competition being so tough, there are a lot of people that are capable of winning that really haven’t had a chance to shine. Strait won Whistler, (Greg) Watts almost took me out in Les 2 Alpes, so they are obviously now on the radar; but people like Tyler McCaul, Cam McCaul, Thomas Lemoine, and others will remain tough to beat,” says Zink.
Also running Thursday, the Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox brings the toughest women’s field assembled for a Crankworx Festival to date. With 2014 champion Caroline Buchanan not competing, four-time Pump Track Queen Jill Kintner (USA) will look to recapture her place atop the podium. She faces Anne-Caroline Chausson (FRA), 2008 Olympic Gold medalist in BMX, Sarah Walker (NZL), 2012 Olympic silver medalist in BMX, BMX and 4Cross World Champion Anneke Beerten (NED) and world-class downhill riders like Tracey Hannah (AUS), Emilie Siegenthaler (SUI) and Casey Brown (CAN).
Equally stacked is the field for Friday’sCrankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS for which race officials are holding a draw for the Number 1 plate. Ordinarily, determined by race standings, competition was too stiff this season for any one rider to stake a claim to the top seeding. The draw includes previous race winners from Les 2 Alpes and Whistler and former Kings and Queens of Crankworx Whistler: Gee Atherton (GBR), Steve Smith (CAN) and Mick Hannah (AUS), for the men, and Rachel Atherton (GBR), Jill Kintner (USA), Casey Brown (CAN) and Tracey Hannah (AUS) for the women.
On Saturday, Mar. 28 The Giant Toa Enduro kicks off the Enduro World Series season with all the top riders in contention. Last year’s champion, Jared Graves (AUS), faces some stiff competition with several riders returning from a season sidelined by injury, like 2013 EWS champion Jérôme Clementz (FRA). Also on the comeback climb, Fabien Barel (FRA) will be on the start line, after winning the last round of the 2014 EWS season in his first race since breaking his back. Fresh off a win at the Giant 2W Enduro in Rotorua last month, New Zealand’s local favourite Wyn Masters (NZL) will also be pulling out all the stops.
“The first event is always the most exciting of the year, and being in such a rad place like Rotorua just adds to the anticipation,” says Josh Carlson, Giant Factory Off-Road team rider.
Final competition culminates Saturday, Mar. 29, with the Crankworx Rotorua Slopestyle, which will determine the sole athlete capable of chasing the new Crankworx Triple Crown this season, a title earned by winning all three Slopestyle events in the tour. Canadian Brandon Semenuk (CAN) appears to own Slopestyle. As the only rider to win at Crankworx Whistler, Crankworx Les 2 Alpes and a Crankworx Colorado event, not to mention the fact he has won Whistler’s Red Bull Joyride three times, all eyes will be on the Canadian from Squamish, B.C. Waiting in the wings, Brett Rheeder (CAN), who has come second to Semenuk on a number of occasions, Martin Sӧderstrӧm (SWE), who is returning from injury, and Anthony Messere (CAN), who landed the top podium spot in Les 2 Alpes in 2014, will be shooting for the win.
Watch all the action LIVE Crankworx.com
Mar. 26 Mons Royale Dual Speed & Style (12-2 pm NZT/ 4-6 pm PST Previous Day/ 12-2 am CET)
Mar. 26 Crankworx Rotorua Pump Track Challenge presented by RockShox 5-7 pm/ 9-11 pm Previous Day/ 5-7 am)
Mar. 27 Crankworx Rotorua Downhill presented by iXS (3-5 pm NZT/7-9 pm PST Previous Day/5-7 am CET)
Mar. 28 Giant Toa Enduro (4-6 p.m. NZT/8-10 p.m. PST Previous Day/4-6 a.m. CET)
Crankworx is taking its coverage to the next level, crowd-sourcing video and breaking new storytelling ground to cover six hours of enduro racing in a two-hour webcast. The first half of coverage will showcase the six stages leading to the Stage 7, broadcast live as the race unfolds. Join us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google+ and hashtag video clips for #CWXLive and #CWXRotorua.
Entries close soon for the Lakes Entrance Epic, held on the gorgeous East Gippsland coast in Victoria. This is just the second running of the event, but it has all the hallmarks of becoming a classic addition to the race calendar. Full event details and entries are available here – or take a gander below to get a better idea what this region and race are all about.
The Lakes Entrance Epic is one of those amazing events riders are drawn to. Pristine, beautiful beaches, a buzzing coastal town, amazing trails, plenty for the whole family to do, and some of the best scenery in Australia: the Lakes Epic truly has it all.
A field of seasoned guns and a huge mix of riders and characters from all over the country rolled into the beautiful seaside town last year, and now with the addition of trail running on the Sunday, the event is set to grow.
With fantastic local trails, Lakes Entrance provides the perfect location for this style of event, with multiple distances and varying terrain, and has all the key ingredients needed in the perfect location of East Gippsland, Victoria.
There’s something for everyone at the Lakes Epic with the mountain bike event having three distances to choose from with 25km, 50km or the full 100km,; and the trail running event with 7km, 15km or 25km, as well as a kids’ event in both disciplines.
Lakes Entrance is such a family friendly destination and a great place for holidays. The town is packed with so much to do including boating, great fishing, beautiful beaches, local wildlife with seals and dolphins frolicking in the Lakes, mini golf, a huge skate park, plenty of shopping, wineries just out of town, the Bullant Brewery in Bruthen, plenty of funky little cafes, heaps of great restaurants, fresh seafood, and of course the fantastic trails of the Colquhoun Forest.
The event itself starts with beautiful views over the water on the foreshore, then competitors head along the highway under police escort and through town, and only after a few kms competitors are rewarded with flowing single trail taking them out into the Colquhoun forest. This is where the different distances of each day will split and go different directions, with the shorter distances experiencing some of the forest, and the longer distances experiencing the Colquhoun Bike Park, the Discovery trail, and the northern end of the forest. The best part though is that all competitors in either the bike or run events, regardless of distance, finish at the same amazing finish line with spectacular views out over the ocean and the town!
After such a huge success in its first ever year, Alpine Gravity took on valuable feedback and will continue to improve and refine the event to make it bigger and better for competitors each year, with some great improvements and even some brand new single trail, making the Lakes Entrance Epic one of the most sought after entries on the event calendar!
Queenstown has become a staple pre-season training camp for many World Cup racers.
George Brannigan recently spent some time riding some of the finest trails on offer, both in and out of the bike park. Judging by his speed and insane line choices, he’s definitely one to watch this season!
Undoubtedly one of the most naturally gifted riders on the downhill circuit, 2014 was the year where Ratboy finally delivered on his talent to produce a consistent set of results.
A rich vein of form saw him record his first ever World Cup win at Leogang, quickly followed by another victory at Windham, while he also became the British National Champion for the first time.
With the 2015 World Cup on the horizon, we met up with fun-loving Josh on his narrow boat home in Manchester, England, to reflect on his incredible season last year and to see how he’s recovered from the busted foot he sustained at the World Championships in Norway.
When Shimano Australia asked us if we’d like an entry to the opening Enduro World Series round in Rotorua, we snapped it up faster than Jared Graves out of the gate. But we needed a bike.
Sure, we could’ve used a review bike or one of our own personal fleet, but we wanted something special.
The Pivot Mach 6 is a bike that we’ve always liked (you can find our review of last year’s model here: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-pivot-mach-6-carbon/). One hundred and fifty five millimetres of DW link rear suspension pedals better than just about anything, whilst still gobbling up the hits when the trail points downhill.
With the frame sorted, the next step was suspension. Up front we opted for the Rockshox Pike RCT3 (which we’ve also tested: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-rockshox-pike/). This Pike needs no introduction, having been widely accredited as the new standard for fork performance. The ability to dial in a supple ride whilst still retaining control over the big hits makes the Pike a winner.
The rear suspension is handled by Fox. the Float X CTD with Trail Adjust is a shock we’ve been lucky to spend alot of time on (you can find our long term review here: http://flowmountainbike.com/tests/tested-fox-float-x-ctd-wtrail-adjust/). Despite the infuriating rebound dial, the Float X is an absolute ripper for Enduro racing. The smoothness of the entire stroke is remarkable, and the trail adjust allows you to fine tune your suspension past the regular CTD settings.
We didn’t have to worry about the drivetrain or wheels. Shimano Australia were nice enough to strap on a succulent mix of XT and XTR components. The eleven speed XTR drivetrain is a standout, providing lightening quick shifting and a wide range 11-40 tooth cassette.
The wheelset, also supplied by Shimano, is the ever reliable XT hoops. Light, strong and dependable, we feel these are perfect for some Enduro abuse!
Being able to stop on a dime definitely gives you the confidence to push harder. Shimano XT brakes were an easy choice.
Our choice of dropper post was the KS Integra -a reliable choice that should require little maintenance. The post is also cable actuated, making repairs far easier than if a hydraulic system was used.
To round out the build we’ve decided to run Maxxis High Roller II tyres. The High Roller rolls quickly, but still provides enough cornering bite when required. For the fast, ‘hero dirt’ conditions of Rotorua we feel this is a good choice.
With Crankworx Rotorua fast approaching, it’s time to get out and get acquainted with our new Enduro weapon! We’ll be keeping you posted with our progress on the bike, so keep an eye out.
GT Factory Racing have unveiled the bikes that they hope will carry them to a clutch of World title victories this season.
Both the GT Fury and GT Sanction are housed on 650b wheels and are the result of three seasons close collaboration between the Atherton family and their bike partner GT.
Gee and Rachel Atherton first rode the Fury back in 2012 when its original 26’ wheels and carbon frame carried Rachel to World Cup Overall victory, and earned GT Factory Racing the title of World’s Fastest Downhill Team
In 2013 the DH team trialled a completely redesigned Fury frame, to great effect. When Gee and Rach “did the double” on two consecutive race weekends, taking Male and Female World Cup titles at Fort William and Val di Sole, the mountain-bike world went wild. By the end of the season Rachel had captured the World Cup Overall and the World Championship and the Downhill riders clinched another World’s Fastest Team accolade.
The move to 650b in 2014 was not without a few teething problems as the athletes adapted to new courses and a slightly different “feel” to their bikes but the Downhill team’s haul still included a World Cup and a World Championship win for Gee, two World Cups for Rachel and World Cup wins for both of GT Factory Racing’s junior riders, Taylor Vernon and Martin Maes.
The five-strong 2015 GT Factory Racing team will be looking to recapture the title of World’s Fastest Downhill team and to establish the Enduro team as a force to be reckoned with.
World Champion Gee Atherton said “ This will be our fourth season riding for GT. We had a lot of input into the design of the Fury, especially with the frame and getting the geometry perfect. We made quite a lot of changes to the Downhill bike last year and we ended up in a good place so basically this year’s bike is the bike that carried me to victory in World Champs. There’s no major component changes, we’ve been working with Fox, Shimano and Continental for so long that the products feel like an extension of myself. But even with the best equipment in the world it’s vital that the bikes are set-up right. My mechanic, Polish Pete has been wrenching for me for the past four years, I know that he will always have my bike dialled which means I can focus 100% on my ride. I can’t wait to race!
Gee’s sister Rachel agreed “We’ve made some small but telling changes to the geometry of my Fury for this season and I’m so excited riding it, I’ve been working with my mechanic Joe for two years now, in the first year we won both World titles, so that’s a massive goal for us in 2015!”
Over on the Enduro circuit Dan Atherton first unveiled his GT Sanction for the 2014 season.He said “ I designed this bike to race, and two years later I still have a massive grin on my face every time I ride it.”
Unfortunately a knee injury sustained on a routine training ride kept Dan out of most of the 2014 Enduro World Series but young team-mate Martin Maes flew the GT Factory Racing flag, racing in the General Classification despite his junior status he racked up an amazing7 stage wins across 7 races.
Speaking about his GT Sanction Dan said “ The bike is unchanged since 2014, apart from a fresh lick of paint. People often underestimate the severity of the EWS courses – basically they are six World Cup tracks to be ridden in a day, it’s not terrain that all Enduro bikes can deal with. The Sanction has the suspension and pedaling characteristics of the GT Fury but in a scaled down chassis. It’s a tough bike and 2015 is going to be the year that Martin and I push it even harder.”
Team Director Dan Brown said “I have never seen the team this focused going into a season. Without exception the five riders have trained super-hard this winter and cannot wait to get started. Gee has a World Championship that he’s not going to give up without a huge fight, Rachel wants her titles back and Dan is more focused on racing than I have ever seen him, he’s concentrating on Enduro 100%, I haven’t even needed to hide his shovel!
Martin will ride his second season in the EWS Elite class while Taylor hits his first season in the senior ranks. Both of them have the confidence of a World Cup win behind them and are starting to put the lessons of the last two years’ into practice. They are still learning but they are aiming for the very top.
The 2015 bikes will carry striking new liveries, for the first time Rachel will fly the flag for female riders with her own teal colour-way.
The new bikes can be seen in action when Dan and Martin take part in the Torpedo 7 Coronet Enduro at Queenstown Bike Festival, NZ on March 20th and at Round 1 of the Enduro World Series (part of the Crankworx Festival at Rotorua) just eight days later.
The Downhill team will open their season at the Crankworx Downhill presented by IXS which takes place on Friday 27th March. Expect to see all of our riders in the mix.
The team would like to thank all of our partners for their essential and unwavering support,GT Bicycles, Silverline Tools, Jeep, Shimano, IXS, Continental, Fox Shox, Go Pro, Bell, Stans No Tubes, Pro, Muc Off, Hope, Oakley and SRM.
It looks like 2016 will be a year filled yet again with news of bike and component manufactures keeping up with new standards. SRAM have announced complete support of the Boost system. We feel that the dust has just settled with the wheel size debates. So what is Boost all about?
With the arrival of Boost spec components, we will now see wider spaced hubs on bikes to increase stiffness in the wheels. Trek initiated the whole movement this year with their Remedy 29er, using a 148mm wide rear hub on the bike (current standard is 142mm wide). Wider flanges on hubs will give the spokes a stronger stance, hence a stiffer wheel.
It’s said that a 29″ wheel with Boost 148 is just as stiff as a 27.5″ wheel.
To accommodate for a wider rear hub, the chain line is shifted outwards 3mm via a new chainring.
And up front a new hub spacing rounds out the Boost system. 10mm wider, using a new fork and hub to achieve a stiffer wheel.
Our thoughts? If this is in all aid of a stiffer 29er wheel, and the ability to run wider tyres, could this have been achieved any other way? Let’s see how it all pans out, if SRAM are backing the new standard that Trek seem to have let the licence available to all, maybe the improvements will be worth the hassle and confusion that comes along with the addition of a new standard.
Read on to hear SRAM’s take.
For a long time now, SRAM had been looking for a way to open up more room around the crankset for frame designers to further optimise their bikes.
SRAM 1x™ was the first step in this direction by eliminating the need for a front derailleur. However, SRAM also had hopes to move the chain line outboard as well. It wasn’t until an OE came to us with a similar goal that we were able to realise this hope.
Boost 148 compatible cranks provide increased clearance, which allows more options for tire choice and rear-end designs.
Boost is a new wheel and drivetrain specification that provides:
Increased wheel stiffness and durability
Better riding efficiency and bike handling precision
Improved frame geometry with shorter chain stays
Wider and stiffer suspension pivots
Wider range of chainring options
More clearance for bigger tires
The Boost system uses a front hub that is 10mm wider than a 100mm design
Each flange is 5mm farther from centre. The greater flange offset allows a stronger spoke-bracing angle resulting in a stiffer wheel.
Given the same rim and spoke spec, a 29” wheel built with a 15×110 Boost hub becomes as stiff as a 26″ wheel built with a standard 15×100 hub.
ROCKSHOX WILL OFFER BOOST 110 COMPATIBLE MODELS OF ITS MOST POPULAR FORKS:
• Available option for MY16 SID, REBA, PIKE
• All 29″ forks with Boost 110 compatibility also fit 27.5″ plus (27.5″ x 3.0 +tires)
Much more than a new, wider axle standard, the Boost system uses a rear hub that is 6mm wider than a 142mm design—each flange is 3mm farther from centre.
The greater flange offset allows a stronger spoke bracing angle resulting in a stiffer wheel. Given the same rim and spoke spec, a 29″ Boost wheel will have the same stiffness as a 27.5″ wheel built on a 142mm hub.
The Aurum Carbon Killer B was designed in conjunction with Norco’s World Cup DH teams past and present and proven on the 2014 World Cup stage. This 650B-wheeled race bike represents the cutting edge of Norco’s engineering and design capability and brings together all of our most advanced carbon and mountain technologies. The Aurum — Latin for “gold” — earned its name by turning the most challenging terrain features into advantages over other riders.
Everything that made the original Aurum great lives on in the Aurum Carbon. Additionally, cutting edge carbon frame design enables us to deliver optimal fit and body positioning, confidence-boosting traction and control and a race-winning potential to reach and hold incredible speeds over the steepest, most technical terrain imaginable.
With traditional frame designs, engineers adjust front-centre lengths for each frame size but use a single, fixed rear-centre length. This traditional design approach leaves riders of certain body types in a poor position when standing, and this uneven weight distribution negatively affects traction, control and overall performance and ride characteristics. Gravity Tune adjusts the rear center proportionally with the front center, which means that the rider’s weight is always optimally distributed – regardless of their height and the frame size they choose.
ADVANCED RIDE TECHNOLOGY (A.R.T.)
Advanced Ride Technology is the direct link between engineering and experience. More than a single suspension platform, A.R.T. is a system that we optimize for each intended use. Norco’s engineering team strategically manipulates pivot locations to precision-tune suspension kinematics, ensuring that every full suspension bike will excel in the environment it was designed for. A.R.T. delivers four major benefits to riders: increased square-edge bump compliance, progressive suspension characteristics, improved braking performance and enhanced pedaling efficiency.
RACE DEVELOPED 650B GEOMETRY
Years in the making, the Aurum’s geometry is a product of collaboration with our World Cup race teams, past and present. Designed from the dirt up around the 650B wheel and our Gravity Tune philosophy, the frame was tested and proven on the 2014 World Cup circuit. A 63-degree head angle and long wheelbase deliver stability at speed through rough terrain, while the low BB and unrivalled Gravity Tune weight distribution ensure maximum grip through corners. Thanks to input from team riders via our Norco Race Development Program, the new geo will enable riders to excel on the racecourse or in the park.
PROGRESSIVE CARBON DESIGN
We adhered to a strict design philosophy to realize our goal of producing a highly efficient carbon structure. Simplified tube cross sections meet and blend seamlessly with one another at all junctions. SmoothCore mandrels enable us to maintain precise control over the inner surfaces of the frame, particularly critical at complicated, high stress areas like the head tube and bottom bracket junctions. Our superior ArmorLite resin further enhances frame strength and impact resistance. As a result, the new frame is the toughest, most resilient DH frame we’ve ever made, inside and out.
DH bikes are some of the most routinely abused in the bike world. However, we believe they should be built to take the punishment, shrug it off and ask for more. Whether it’s a rock striking the down tube at Mach 10, a dirt and grit covered machine being thrown into the bed of the pickup for one more lap, or the relentless biting of chain on chain stay, our integrated frame protectors offer the Aurum the protection it deserves. These custom frame guards are designed to offer maximum protection while integrating seamlessly into the frame’s aesthetic.
142X12 OPTIMIZED FOR 7SPD
The first groupsets truly optimized for DH racing, 7-speed drivetrains deliver the full gear range needed by racers and offer more useful jumps between gears. We are such strong believers in the 7-speed DH system that we designed the full Aurum lineup around it, using 142 x 12 mm rear spacing. Though it is narrower than usual for a DH bike, we chose to employ a 142 x 12 throughout the line because it offers a number of significant advantages to the rider, including an optimized chainline for the 7-speed system, improved heel and trail hazard clearance and a lighter rear wheel.
Australian Retail Pricing:
Aurum C 7.1 Black/Yellow/Grey RRP $8,699
Aurum C 7.2 Black/Red RRP $7,199
Aurum C 7.3 Black/White RRP $5,599
We’ll expect these bikes to land in Australia this April.
Day three of the 2015 Subaru National Mountain Bike Championships, hosted by Mountain Bike Australia, saw spectacular action across Olympic Cross Country racing, Observed Trials and Downhill Seeding in the idyllic location of Bright, Victoria.
Day three of the 2015 Subaru National Mountain Bike Championships, hosted by Mountain Bike Australia, saw spectacular action across Olympic Cross Country racing, Observed Trials and Downhill Seeding in the idyllic location of Bright, Victoria.
Dan McConnell (ACT) and Rebecca Henderson (ACT) are true mountain bike champions, and today they delivered as champions do, defending their National Championships titles and once again earning themselves the green and gold jerseys.
In the Elite Men’s race, McConnell, Brendan Johnston (ACT) and Cameron Ivory (NSW) made a break from the get go, putting a small gap between themselves and the rest of the pack.
They led the other riders for the first half of the race, but on lap 3 teammates McConnell and Brendan Johnston (ACT) broke away from Ivory and the pair would race wheel-to-wheel until the very end.
The final lap was anyone’s game, but as McConnell is the third-ranked rider in the world and almost unbeatable at home, he found the extra energy to break away.
McConnell charged into the final straight, high fiving his fans as he crossed the finish line, to claim yet another National Championships jersey.
“Everything went really perfect,” said McConnell. “To be away with Trekky [Johnston] really early, we were able to just control the pace and dictate when we could put in the work and when we could recover a little bit. I’m really happy, not just for myself, but for Trekky to get second is awesome.
“I’ve never gone back to back before so this one is extra special,” McConnell explained. “I’ve really wanted this one for the last couple of months so to get a win and to be able to take the jersey overseas again is awesome.”
In the U23’s race, it was all about Tasmania’s Scott Bowden, who backed up his Oceania Championships title from just two weeks ago with National Championships glory.
A crash on lap 1 resulted in a gash on his right knee and removed the number plate from his bike, but Bowden was unstoppable, putting a 1m47s lead in front of the other U23 riders by the final lap, and in the process, completing an Australian season that is almost without peer in 2015.
Much like the Men’s, the Elite Women’s race turned into a challenge between top-ranked riders Henderson and Peta Mullens (VIC), who both went hard from the start, putting a 35.2 second gap between themselves and third and fourth placed riders Jenni King (VIC) and Jenny Fay (ACT).
Despite a small crash on the course, Henderson built this lead up to 50 seconds by the last lap, ensuring that she would once again be crowned the Elite Women’s National Champion.
“This one is really special,” said Henderson, speaking about retaining the title in her post-race interview. “Coming in as defending champion and Oceania champion, it was really important for me to have a good race.
“I came in with everything to lose and I was able to pull it together so I’m really happy.”
In third place was King, Fay finished fourth and Mountain Bike Australia’s Junior Development Coach Jodie Willett (QLD) rounded out the top five.
The most exciting finish of the day went to the U23 Women’s race, where Holly Harris (NSW) and Em Parkes (VIC) literally went head to head in a sprint finish for the title as they rounded Subaru corner on the third and final lap.
Riding in to what was an amazing photo finish, Parkes just edged out Harris on the line, finishing only centimetres in front to take the win.
The Bright Downhill course is renowned in the mountain bike world for being both technical and spectacular, and as we heard Connor Fearon (SA) say at the Oceania Championships in Toowoomba last month, it is “capable of hosting a World Cup”.
For the 2015 Subaru National Championships we are again lucky to be treated to a feast of Australian downhill royalty, with Tracey Hannah (QLD), Mick Hannah (QLD), Tegan Molloy (NSW), Troy Brosnan (SA) and Fearon all present and racing.
Downhill racing takes place over two days, with seeding held this afternoon and racing taking place tomorrow
Today’s action for the Elite Women saw defending national champion Tracey Hannah record the fastest time of 4:35.72, with Canadian Claire Buchar second in 4:59.10 and Oceania champion Molloy third in 5:15.13.
Brosnan is the hot favourite in the Elite Men’s race and today he did not disappoint fans, setting the fastest time for seeding, 3:56.22.
Fearon was a very close second, 0.21 seconds behind Brosnan, and Dean Lucas (VIC) was third in 4:03.46.
Observed Trials Finals
Today also saw the start of the spectator-favourite Observed Trials competition, with the valued 20 inch title up for grabs.
Taking out the title with exceptional riding was Nathan Mummery (VIC), and finishing runner up in the closest of competitions was Andrew Dickey (VIC), with Lachlan Sens (VIC) in third.
The Expert category was raced combined with women’s action, and it is no surprise that trials superstar Janine Jungfels (QLD) took the win.
Second place in expert went to Mitch Ho (NSW) and Kyle Rolands (QLD) finished third.
Final day action
Action on the final day of the of the Subaru Mountain Bike National Championships will be headlined as always by the downhill finals – with Group B racing at 1.30pm and Group A at 3.30pm.
Excitingly, the Group A finals will also be live streamed via the Mountain Bike Australia website at mtba.asn.au/livestream, allowing fans around the world to follow along.
Spectators in Bright will also be treated to a feast of Cross Country Short Course, Cross Country Eliminator and Observed Trials 26 inch action.
Anyone is welcome free of charge to watch and cheer along here at Mystic MTB Park in Bright, Victoria.
All information about the event can be found online at:
Friday was day two of the Subaru National Mountain Bike Championships in Bright, Victoria seeing cross country riders battling it out on a dusty course in the sun.
Friday covered the first half of the Olympic Cross Country race program, with riders racing lap-based events on a 5.16 kilometre trail.
In the U17 Men’s Cross Country, Kian Lerch-Mackinnon (VIC) and Cam Wright (QLD) sped away from the pack early on, creating a 28.1 second gap from the rest of the field on the first lap.
Lerch-Mackinnon was able to extend this lead even further and on the third and final lap he really put the pedal down, finishing an impressive 42.3 seconds in front of second placed rider Wright.
“It’s very nice on my birthday to win the Champs, I’m very happy,” said Lerch-Mckinnon.
“It was pretty hard, I didn’t have the best start going in to the first fireroad in third. But I managed to get past Cam and Dean and I just basically led from there.”
Dean Cane (QLD) took third ahead of a talented field.
New South Wales rider Charlie Todd bagged the U15 Men’s National Champion jersey, creating a huge lead and finishing over a minute in front of Riley King (NSW) and Fergus McQueen (NSW), who placed second and third respectively.
“I’ve been training hard all season and to be National Champion feels really good,” said Todd.
“I didn’t have the start that I wanted, I slipped on the first corner but on the first fire road section I was able to get into the lead and I just pushed on from there”.
In men’s masters racing action, legend of the sport Rob Eva (VIC) added yet another national title to his collection that spans both decades and disciplines, this time winning the Masters 5 crown.
In the U17 Women’s Cross Country race, Katherine Hosking (NSW) took out the National Championships title, battling hard against 2015 Subaru National Series Winner Sarah Tucknott (WA).
“I’m super stoked about the race and super happy,” said Hosking in her after-race interview.
“In the past few races her [Tucknnott’s] last lap has been her fastest so I really had it in my mind to just keep thinking she’s going to catch up, so I had to go hard for the whole race.”
This was Hosking’s third National Championships title, but the first one in the U17 category.
Western Australia’s Tucknott rode into second place and local Tegan Atherstone (VIC) was third.
In the U15’s race, it was all about last night’s winner of the Junior Cross Country Rider of the Year award – Zoe Cuthbert (ACT) – who added yet another title to what has been an amazing start to the year for the young rider.
Emily Wooster (NSW) placed second and Isabella Hosking (NSW) third.
Special mention goes to Sharon Heap (QLD), who added yet another National title to her huge collection, taking out the Masters 5+ category.
Heap was also the recipient of the Female Masters Mountain Biker of the Year Award last night at MTBA’s inaugural Awards Function in Bright.
Racing will continue tomorrow with the Elite Male and Female Olympic Cross Country races, Downhill seeding and Observed Trials action.
Spectators are welcome free of charge here at Mystic MTB Park in Bright, Victoria.
FOX have warped the time-space continuum, revealing details of a new 2016 FOX 34 fork (and yes, it does feel like New Years Eve was just last week!) that telegraphs loud and clear just want the industry trends are going to be for 2016.
What are we talking about? Well, the keen eyed amongst you will have noticed that this is a 27.5+ fork – yes, 27.5 PLUS. If you haven’t heard of 27.5+ before, don’t think you’re behind the curve. The concept was unknown to us until a couple of weeks ago.
If you though the wheel size debate was resolved (or at least were hoping like hell that it had been!) then we have news for you. Another standard is on the way, and its name is 27.5+. Essentially 27.5+ swims in the murky waters between a 27.5 / 650B wheel, and a Fat Bike. It’s a 27.5″ rim, which rolls more like a 29er, thanks to the use of 3-inch’ish tyre. Cue forum meltdowns.
We’re going to withhold judgement until we ride one. We already understand the benefits of a large volume tyre on a 27.5″ rim (we’ve been using big rubber with wide Ibis rims on our Trek Fuel EX test bike for months) we do feel kind of befuddled about the necessity of new forks to support another standard.
While Rockshox have had the Bluto Fat Bike fork out for a long time, this is the first 27.5+ fork we’re aware of – read on for all the details. Points to note include a massively wide chassis, and a wider hub spacing (110mm).
Some incredibly exciting news has just come our way, via Tasmanian trail builders, Dirt Art. In a development that may well set a new precedent for Australian mountain bike parks, the Tasmanian state government has granted provisional approval for a huge new mountain bike development in Maydena, in Tasmania’s south.
The proposal is based around Eagles Eyre, a currently vacant multi-million dollar visitor centre and restaurant, 600m vertical above the township of Maydena, which lies on the main thoroughfare from Hobart to Tassie’s west coast (which is also about to receive a $1.2 million mountain bike trail development).
The Maydena proposal is no toe-in-the-water kind of approach either – what has been slated dwarfs any Australian mountain bike park to date. Proposed features include:
– 100km of purpose-built mountain bike trails (developed over multiple stages)
– A focus on gravity trails (all mountain and downhill) offering up to 600m of vertical descending
– The showpiece trail will be a 20km descending all mountain trail, through stunning alpine rock scree and dense rainforest
– Stunning myrtle forest environment backing onto the Styx Valley, home to some of the worlds largest trees
– Commercial shuttle service accessing the summit of the site
– Free-for-use access to the proposed cross country trail network, with paid shuttle access to gravity trails
– Restaurant, cafe, bar and bike shop retail
– Tours, skills coaching, bike and equipment hire
– Proposed future stages include a range of adventure activities, such as; zip lines, four wheel drive tours, eco tours and bush walking.
“This preliminary approval will allow us to begin developing a detailed proposal, which will face further assessment in due course,” says Simon French of Dirt Art. “There’s a lot of work to go yet, but this will be huge for mountain biking in Australia.
“We are understandably pretty excited about this proposal getting the nod – the site is a blank canvas where we can showcase our absolute best trail concepts without the typical limitations of publicly funded developments. And 600m vertical, accessed via a shuttle road, with a multi-million dollar visitor centre at the summit- how good is that!?”
If you’ve ever watched any of the older New World Disorder films, there’s a good chance you would’ve seen footage of Stacy Kohut, ruling the trails of Whistler… in his four-wheeler.
You see, Stacy suffered a broken back in his teens, but that hasn’t slowed him down. He’s a Paralympic skier, he rules a half pipe, and he rips trails on his full-suspension wheelchair like most riders can only dream of. He’s been at it for a while now, but his riding just keeps getting better.
The 2015 Bike Buller MTB Festival, presented by Orbea, has wrapped up for another year. If you don’t know this event and what it’s all about, let us explain. Bike Buller, as it’s known, is an event for real all-round mountain bikers. Over three days it crams in a huge amount of action, across so many different disciplines of mountain biking it’ll leave you dizzy trying to decide how to set up your bike!
There’s everything from brake burners races, to cross country missions, ridiculously fast top-to-bottom enduro descents, right through to pump track racing. It’s a real test of overall mountain biking skill and fitness, all held in the stunning surrounds of Mt Buller. If you haven’t been to Buller, check out our video below, and lock yourself in for Bike Buller next year as it’s the best way to see all the trails.
Read on below for the official wrap up this year’s racing, with the most amazing spread of events yet.
It was a huge weekend of mountain biking action at the Bike Buller MTB Festival presented by Orbea, over the weekend, 7-9 March.
The three-day event consisted of seven serious mountain bike races, two spectacle events (the dual slalom and pump track), a trail running race, three kids’ events and a whole bunch of added social activities.
The crowd was diverse with events to cater for riders of all styles. There were plenty of cross country riders but just as many downhill and gravity riders. There were groups of mates from faraway places such as Bathurst NSW, Queensland and even Singapore; local riders enjoying the increased level of competition; and plenty of families making the most of the Victorian long weekend.
Alice Hamilton, the overall female winner of Race 11, summed up the weekend nicely.
“We’ve had the best weekend. There’s definitely the festival vibe here with so many events and the pump track and Picnic in the Park. We’ve loved it,” she said.
Alex Swann proved too good in the downhill, taking out three race wins for the weekend, but there was no shortage of competition. Several other riders left the mountain with race titles and prizes; and everyone else left with a huge sense of satisfaction, having enjoyed the magnificent Mt Buller trails and festival atmosphere.
This is how all the action unfolded.
SATURDAY 7TH MARCH:
Race 1 – Schwalbe Stirling Circuit 50km This was a spectacular – and by all accounts extremely challenging – XC circuit over Mt Stirling and back again including Stonefly, the Corn Hill trails and a chairlift up Mt Buller at the end.
Brad Clarke from Berwick Victoria was the clear winner, finishing nearly 12 minutes ahead of the next rider.
“It was good fun; I really enjoyed it. I went out really hard from the start and managed to take an early lead. The best part of the course was definitely the descent on the Stonefly Trail,” said Clarke.
Overall winning male: Brad Clarke
Overall winning female: Melissa Anset Race 2 – Fox Stonefly Circuit 35km This rewarding XC race took riders also took riders to Mt Stirling and back on the phenomenal Stonefly trail with chairlift at the end.
“It’s my first time riding at Mt Buller. The downhill section after the 50km and 35km split was just fantastic, so flowy and so much fun. I’m not used to the altitude but I loved the trails,” said Rebecca Payne from Sydney.
Overall winning male: Brad Tregoweth
Overall winning female: Rebecca Payne Race 3 – Fox Outlaw All Mountain Trophy In this mind-blowing all-mountain race on two of Mt Buller’s DH tracks – Outlaw Express and Yellow Post – riders completed 5 timed descents with an untimed chairlift back to the top. The fastest 3 descents made up their overall race time.
There were plenty of smiling faces and great tales told at the end of the descent as riders caught their breath as they jumped on the chairlift with their bikes.
At the end of the day, it was Alex Swann who posted the fastest men’s times and highly accomplished mountain biker Clare Kovarik who won the women’s event.
“I didn’t ride particularly well but my favourite bit was the one long straight section where you could go pretty fast so it was good fun,” said Vaughan Blom from Aspendale.
Overall winning male: Alex Swann
Overall winning female: Clare Kovarik Race 4 –Fox Kids Village Ride
Kids had a ball with this super-fun 5km cross country ride on the friendly trails around the Mt Buller Village. There were no winners as such but ever participant walked away with prizes and high grins on their faces. Race 5 – Fox 16” Dual Slalom There was plenty of noise from the crowd, encouraged along by the Red Bull Energy DJ, as two riders went head to head down a grass dual slalom track on Bourke Street, on 16” kids bikes! There were loads of stacks and jeering from the spectators as 32 riders took on the challenge. In the winner-takes-all elimination format Connor Feardon won the final round in a hot contest against Tim Eaton.
Overall winner: Connor Feardon Race 6 – LEZYNE Kids Pump Track This was a great opportunity for the kids to have a go on the rolling Pump Track, proudly strutting their stuff to their supportive parents and onlookers. Race 7 – Flow Pump Track Pursuit The trackside bar and BBQ and Red Bull Energy DJ kept the crowd pumping and after some thrilling head to head racing on the pump track in a do-or-die elimination format, young rider Jackson Frew managed to take the crown.
Overall winner: Jackson Frew
SUNDAY 8TH MARCH:
9.5km Trail Run A spectacular and challenging trail running race took runners along the scenic alpine walking and riding trails and up to the Mt Buller Summit, with a beautiful 3.5km descent back to the Village Square.
“It was a beautiful run. I was waiting for someone to pass me on the way down so I just wanted to hold on and get to that finish. My husband raced in the 50km mountain biking yesterday so it was my turn to have some fun today,” said Caitlin Wade from Sydney.
Overall winning male: Ross Hopkins
Overall winning female: Caitlin Wade Race 8 – SRAM Guide Brake Burner Enduro The most popular race for the weekend was the multi-lap enduro down a 7km XC/DH course to the base of the chairlift and back up again until the final 12km Super-D (Race 9) to the Picnic in the Park festival at the base of the mountain.
“I managed to get 6 laps in before hitting the Super D. I had a nice clean run down the trails and a really nice stranger stopped to help me on the trail when I had I had a flat. It’s been a great day,” said Helen Yates from Melbourne.
Overall winning male: Jason Archer
Overall winning female: Leah Childs
Race 9 – Fox Mt Buller Super D
This exhilarating 12km Super-D race took riders from the top of Mt Buller all the way to the bottom – descending over 1100m in a single run. Riders flew down the Delatite River Trail to finish in the Picnic in the Park festival at the base of the mountain.
There were a few thrills and spills on course as competitors lapped up the downhill sections, and a fierce battle between Alex Swann and Tim Eaton to capture the win.
“That was awesome. We were both flying down. It was a great trail and we haven’t done the event before. It was great fun,” said Joel and Aidan Geysen from Melbourne.
Overall winning male: Alex Swann
Overall winning female: Daniela Ruoss
Race 10 – Fox Kids Picnic Ride It was a diverse field of kids that put their hands up for the Picnic Ride in the Picnic in the Park festival in Mirimbah, with children as young as 3 years on balance bikes through to 13 years on some serious looking machines. They started off with a skills course, progressed to five-laps of challenging off-course circuit and finished brilliantly with a fun “bike limbo”. Cheered on my eager parents in was a great event to encourage young riders.
MONDAY 9TH MARCH:
Race 11 – Adidas Eyewear Corn Hill Crankfest XC 22km It was a tight race on the challenging XC 22km Crankfest on the flowing single track around the Mt Buller Village and neighbouring Cornhill trails. There was a strong lead pack of five riders setting the pace until race favourite Joey Esterhuysen managed to break away on one of the downhill sections.
“It was an interesting race; the guys were pretty strong at the start but I managed to get away from them so I just went for it. It’s been a really good weekend with the mix of events, the trails are awesome and the volunteer course marshalls have been great,” said Joey Esterhuysen.
Overall winning male: Joey Esterhuysen
Overall winning female: Alice Hamilton Race 12 – Bell Super 2R Gravity Enduro 20km A gravity enduro around the most popular Mt Buller and Cornhill trails with 5 timed descents interspersed with untimed climbs and transit stages.
“That was the best race of the weekend for me. It’s been a sic weekend, just loved it,” Scott Larritt from Melbourne.
“Yeah, I’ve been having a bit of a go this weekend. I had a really good race yesterday against Tim Eaton so I was definitely feeling it today. The gravity enduro today was really good; good format and a really nice way to finish off the weekend,” said Alex Swann.
Overall winning male: Alex Swann
Overall winning female: Jacinta Nelsson
For full results on the 2015 Bike Buller MTB Festival presented by Orbea visit www.BIKEBULLER.com
It’s only a couple of weeks until Crankworx Rotorua! In episode number two of the Berm Bros series, Matt Walker and Keegan Wright take a look at some of the riding away from the Whakawarewarewa Forest, and show you what lakeside life is all about off the bike at one of Rotorua’s most beautiful lakes.
Caroline Buchanan, Australia’s multiple-time 4X World Champion, National Champion and BMX Olympian, has just released a whole stack of balance bikes through DK.
Balance bikes are the best option for getting kids riding sooner; there’s no relying training wheels, so kids find their balance naturally, and the bikes themselves are lighter, simpler and easier to use.
The DK Nano Caroline Buchanan Series of balance bikes look cool; great colours, threadless headset, super low standover height and inflatable tyres. Your kids will be hucking the big set like Caroline in no time*. Learn more about them here.
While large chunks of North America have been getting hammered by snow storms (which apparently is the cue for every bike brand to release a Fat Bike on snow video…), Rob J from Canyon takes a different approach, heading subterranean.
The Mine is a fully-fledged underground bike park in Louisville, Kentucky. Don’t forget to charge your lights!
Trek World Racing are heading into the 2015 World Cup downhill season with an all-out Kiwi assault, with two of the fastest and most balls-out riders on the planet on the books, both of whom call New Zealand home.
It’s always amazing, and kind of terrifying, watching Brooke MacDonald ride as he hangs off the bike, letting it plough through anything dumb enough to get in his way. George Brannigan’s style is little, shall we say, lighter, but just as quick. Take a look at a bit of a re-cap of some 2014 highlights, and as Brooke and George rip it up at home in preparation for the 2015 season.
Molloy & Mudd Crowned Series Winners at the the Subaru National Mountain Bike Series in Toowoomba Queensland
The Series, hosted by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA), started in December 2014 and spanned five states, finishing up today with a classic Downhill race that saw Toowoomba local legend and 2014 Enduro World Champion Jared Graves (QLD) battle America’s Richie Rude Jr for gold.
Graves was ranked first after yesterday’s seeding run – a run which saw him as the first rider to post a time below 2m40s on the tough ‘McKenzie Frenzy’ trail all week – and today, Graves didn’t disappoint.
Racing as the last rider down the hill, Graves not only beat out his own seeding time, but he also sped into first place, taking the win from second placed Richie Rude Jr, who just a few days ago usurped him at the Oceania Championships.
“I was a bit gutted the other day,” said Graves. “To get one back today feels good”.
While 2014 World Championships Bronze medallist Troy Brosnan (SA) was undefeated in the first two rounds of the series, his rare absence due to a team training camp in America meant the series winner crown was up for grabs in Queensland.
Graeme Mudd (NSW) today added a bronze medal to a series of top three results, securing himself the Subaru National Series crown in the process.
In Under 19 action, Max Warshawsky (QLD) had a great run, finishing 2.11 seconds in front of Jackson Frew (ACT) and Andrew Crimmins (NSW). Crimmins earned the overall Junior Series title.
In the Elite Women’s race, it was all about 2015 Junior World Champion Tegan Molloy (NSW) who finished her run in 3m11s, 8.63 seconds in front of second placed rider Sarah Booth (NSW).
Molloy has taken gold in two out of three downhill races this Series, adding the National Series overall winner title to her Oceania Champion medal, in what was a highly successful Toowoomba trip.
On her first series win in the Elite category, Molloy said:
“It’s pretty cool stepping up from juniors and then taking the Elite series – I had solid races this year”.
Ellie Wale took out the U19 Women’s race today and was also crowned the Junior Series Winner.
Special mention goes to Coleen Boyes (NSW) who rode to gold in the Women’s Masters 5/6 Category, posting a time that would have seen her take sixth among the Elite females.
Short Course Cross Country
In this morning’s short course, it was Rebecca Henderson (ACT) who took the win in the Elite Women’s race, securing herself the overall Series winner crown for the year, with Em Parkes (VIC) and Holly Harris (NSW) rounding out the podium.
In the Elite Men’s category, racing was fast and furious with bunches at the front forming, breaking and re-forming throughout the race.
Initially it was Paul van der Ploeg (VIC) that led the men as they sped around the course, but it wasn’t long before the Toowoomba crowd was treated to another battle between Dan McConnell (ACT) and Anton Cooper (NZ).
Unfortunately today Cooper dropped his chain on the final lap, allowing McConnell to ride comfortably to his third gold medal this week
The win also gave the overall series title to McConnell, the third-ranked Cross Country rider in the world.
This afternoon also saw the National Series prize pack drawn, with all riders who entered the 2014-15 Subaru National Series provided with an entry in the draw for each race entered.
The prize, which includes airfares, accommodation, car hire and tickets for two to the 2015 MTB World Championships in Andorra, was awarded by a lucky draw to 2013-14 National Series winner Cameron Ivory (NSW).
Racing continues in just 12 days with the Subaru Australian Mountain Bike Championships in Bright, Victoria, where riders will go head to head in a fight for the National Champion title.
The 2015 Championships will offer a feast of mountain biking disciplines for riders, with Cross Country, Downhill, Observed Trials and Cross-Country Eliminator all running, and competition will be fierce across both elites and age-groupers alike.
The festival that is the championships will feature the innaugural MTBA Achievement Awards dinner, as well workshops and courses, many of which are free to attend.
The first day of the final round of mountain bike racing in the Subaru National Series for 2014-15 was contested under the hot Queensland sun in Toowoomba on Saturday, with the event presented by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).
The series has travelled Australia, starting in December 2014, and racing took place in both Cross Country and Downhill disciplines.
Elite Men’s Cross Country
Dan McConnell (ACT) is the third-ranked cross country rider in the world, and as such starts any race he enters across the world as one of the favourites – and on home turf, McConnell is almost unstoppable.
The Elite Men’s race started smoothly in the midday heat, with a lead bunch of five riders, including McConnell and New Zealand National Champion Anton Cooper.
McConnell, crowned this week as the Oceania Champion, is renowned for starting steadily and then maintaining a pace that other riders cannot sustain over the duration of the race.
Today’s race ran to this familiar plan, with McConnell breaking away from the bunch on lap four to create a lead that would never be challenged.
“In the middle of the race I was able to get to the front at the start of the climb, open the legs a little bit and get a gap,” said McConnell.
“From there I was able to ride comfortably to the finish”.
Second behind McConnell was again Cooper, with third place going to 2013-14 National Series winner Cameron Ivory (NSW).
Scott Bowden (TAS) landed in Toowoomba as the National Series leader, and with a strong ride to fourth place, he will be leaving Queensland as the overall Elite Men’s Subaru National Series winner.
“I was hoping that I could get on the podium fairly consistently and be in the top five but I wouldn’t have even dreamt of taking out the series this year,” said Bowden.
“It exceeded all my expectations and I’m just over the moon”.
Ivory and Brendan Johnston (ACT) rounded out the top three overall series winners.
Both men finished the series on level points, but second was awarded to Ivory on countback.
Under 19 action saw Liam Jeffries (VIC) win both today’s race and the overall National Series crown in a dominant fashion, with four wins from five races, and today he incredibly rode without a seat-post and saddle for most of the final lap.
Elite Women’s Cross Country
The women’s race was a star-studded affair, with the very best riders from Australia and New Zealand stacked across the front row of the startline.
Kiwi young gun Amber Johnston (NZ) rode hard from the start to lead the riders into the forest, where proceedings were broken open early by the experienced New Zealand power duo of Kate Fluker and Karen Hanlen.
Fluker has form this week after riding to a strong silver behind Henderson on Thursday in the Oceania Championships, and was again strong today surging to the lead at the end of lap two.
On lap three she further accelerated and established a lead that would ultimately be insurmountable.
“I was maybe four or five deep on the single track but I really utilised that grassy climb,” said Fluker. “I have to use my strengths the best I can and I love climbing so I made sure I went hard where I could.
“Amber Johnston, the New Zealand U23 Champion, was out in front and I said to her ‘Amber I’m behind you’ and she pulled over for me and let me pass. Kiwi’s are pretty good at working together”.
The Subaru National Series title was on the line today and fittingly it was our two best athletes of recent years in contention, Rebecca Henderson (ACT) and Peta Mullens (VIC).
Henderson, the 2014 Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist, walked away with the spoils, adding the overall National Series title to the Oceania title she won 48 hours earlier at the same venue.
“I’m really happy to win my first National Series – it’s really cool,” said an ecstatic Henderson.
In under 19 action, New Zealand’s Jemma Manchester capped off a successful trip, adding today’s Subaru National Series round win to Thursday’s Oceania Champion title.
Worthy of note in the youngest category is the prodigious Zoe Cuthbert, who today completed a whitewash of the Under 15 series with performances that often saw her battling with Elite riders.
Downhill racing will take place with riders today participating in a seeding event to both earn points towards their Subaru National Series rankings and also decide the start order for Sunday.
In the Men’s event, Jared Graves (QLD) was fastest with a time of 2m39.60s, while Richie Rude Jr (USA) and Connor Fearon (SA) rounded out the top three.
For the Women, Tegan Molloy (NSW) seeded quickest in 3m12.79s, with Michelle Crisp (NSW) in second and Kellie Weinert (NSW) in third.
Spectators are welcome free of charge here at Jubilee Mountain Bike Park, with Sunday’s racing to include both Short Course Cross Country and Downhill racing.
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: