Day 1: What a way to kick off racing for the Thredbo Cannonball MTB Festival, Thursday was the Maxxis All-Mountain Assault – two things the competitors were happy to see, the sunshine and the finish line!
A packed field of close to 500 lined up at the top of the Gunbarrel Express around 1790m above sea level, they took in the amazing views and took in deep breaths for the seven kilometre, 450 vertical metre descent to the village.
After a week of rain, the weather turned it on with loads of sunshine and a big blue sky. The track conditions were primo, starting out wet in sections swinging to sweet and tacky once racing was underway, getting faster and faster as the day went one.
The pro division saw Ben Forbes repeat his 2016 win, hitting the line at 12:37:22 around seven seconds ahead of Josh Carlson with Scott Graham nudging into third. In the pro women’s Sian A’Hern took the win only seconds ahead of Claire Whiteman and Tegan Molloy in third.
“It’s was great out there, it’s a really long time to be on your game, you have to be out of your seat the whole way, it was gnarly, but great to take the win” said Forbes.
When riders were asked to describe the race they said “it was brutal” with technical descents, natural features, jump options and pinch climbs, it pushed even the most seasoned enduro rider. This is one of the longest enduro race tracks in the country, so solid slabs of time were won and lost, but in some categories it was only a matter of seconds that separated the podium places.
“It was a massive day of racing – sunshine, record number of riders and a fantastic track that just kept on getting better and better as the day went on. The next few days are set to be epic with everyone raving about the Flow and Downhill track conditions” said Tim Windshuttle – Thredbo MTB Assistant Manager
Day 2. Two gates, two mates, one winner….The crowd gathered, the clouds parted, the track was swept and it was game on in the fifth edition of the ROCKSHOX Pump Track Challenge.
The social event of the Cannonball MTB Festival took place as the sun went down, but there was plenty of action to light up night and fire up the field.
The track was in top shape with world class showdowns revving up the 1000 strong crowd. Riders raced the clock to narrow down the field of 300 to the top 8 in each category.
The new dual format saw head to head Pump Track racing in the upper categories Racers dropped in on opposing sides of the pump track, meeting in the middle for a side by side battle to the finish.
In the Pro Men’s, proving he is a quality all-rounder, Thomas Crimmins set a blistering pace in qualifying before meeting up with his mate David McMillan in the final. Crimmins crossed the line first by the narrowest of margins to McMillan with Duke Millington coming in third.
“Great atmosphere, big crowd and a fun format of racing made for a fantastic event” said Thomas Crimmins.
It was a parade of women’s world beaters with Danni Beecroft, who is more at home on the downhill track, taking the win. Sian A’Hern maintained her podium place of yesterday to ride in second with BMX rider Harriet Burbidge-Smith coming in third.
“I loved the dual format, it’s good to battle it out amongst each other to see where you are at, it really pushes you to the edge, so much so I almost crashed” said Danni Beecroft.
The young guns scorched the course burning out of the berms and over the rollers at pro pace. Local kids Thomas Krpan, Jackson Connelly and Angus Falconer impressed with their speed and agility filling 1,2,3 on the podium in the u/15 men’s category.