National Champs: Dan McConnell Claims Sixth Title

The three-time Olympian produced a gutsy performance to claim the title in a time of 1:21:41 after seven laps on a punishing course.

“It’s probably the most rewarding Aussie champs I’ve won and came into the village arms pumping and felt pretty good on this climb and for Bec to win this morning tops off the week.”

McConnell held off Cameron Ivory (NSW), a further three minutes back, and Mark Tupalski (ACT) who took bronze in his first major race in 15 months.

Cam Ivory
Cam Ivory

It was an emotional McConnell who crossed the line after admitting earlier in the week that it would be a struggle to retain his Australian title.

“I was pretty intimidated cause Cam’s been in good form and tried to save myself on the climb if that was possible on this course.”

“It’s the first time in six months I’ve actually felt comfortable and I’ll definitely soak this up for a few days,” McConnell admitted.

Cam Wright
Cam Wright

It was a brutal test for the 21 rider field, and while conditions had improved after the early morning downpour,  there were plenty of mind games out in front as Ivory came hunting for the coveted green and gold jersey.

The duo sat on each others wheel in the early exchanges before McConnell took the lead on the third lap and made his move on the fifth, recording a lap time of 11min30 which blew the competition apart.

“We were just testing each other out there and a few little moves here and there and Dan launched a big one with a few laps to go and I still felt good and thought I’ll let him sit just in front of me few seconds and I blinked and I couldn’t get anything back,” Ivory said.

The race also saw the return of Tupalski, who fought his way through the field with two laps to go to earn a bronze medal at the national championship.Nose Crash OT Riders

“I really don’t know how that happened, I’m actually speechless for a change.”

Tasman Nankervis (VIC) had plenty to say as he took charge from the first of his six laps, to claim the U23 title for the first time after finishing second last year.

“There are no easy laps, I’m happy to be mixing it up with the elites in lap times and finally feel as if I’m producing what I can do,” Nankervis said.

It was a story of redemption in the Junior Men for Cameron Wright (QLD), after a bronze at the Oceania, the Brisbane rider made amends as he ripped around the course to claim his first Australian title in 1:01:08 ahead of Kian Lerch-Mackinnon (VIC) and newly crowned Oceania champion Sam Fox (TAS).

“I’ve been pretty angry leading into this one and really wanted it that bad.”

“I just felt better until the last lap before I get to the tops and felt the cramps coming but I made it and tried to keep safe down the hill.”

National Champs: Bec Henderson Wins in Canungra

A morning downpour just before the race start would add an extra element of difficulty for the riders during their six-lap race.

Henderson, who by her own admission has not been in the best form, contradicted herself as she produced a vintage performance in the muddy, slick conditions to finish more 1:17:58, than three minutes ahead of Holly Harris (NSW) and Katherine McInerney (NSW).

“I’m really happy to call them (green and gold jersey) mine for another 12 months.”

“It was a real mountain bike course and a climbers course and there was certainly no hiding out there today.”

Henderson put the hammer down on lap one, despite taking a hit on the infamous rock garden, which claimed a number of riders during the morning.

“I didn’t quite have the confidence on the first lap and I took the B line in the rock garden and managed to crash so after that I took the A Line,” Henderson remarked.

It was a similar story for Harris, who was riding in the elite category at a national championship for the first time.

Holly Harris
Holly Harris

“I came to the A line and you know what I’m riding elite I may as well risk it all.”

2017 has been the coming of age for Harris, who after wins in the National Series and silver at Oceania is now confident of the next step.

“It’s so exciting especially against someone like Bec one of the world’s best riders,” Harris said.

The big mover through the field was McInerney, who after getting away to a bad start which saw her fifth in the field after lap two, move up into third where she would hold until the finish.

“On the third lap I started to take different lines so I didn’t have to walk on that pinch section of the course and that helped me to stay smooth, and that’s where I ended up overtaking Peta and Tori.”

While in the Under 23 women Megan Williams (QLD) made it a one-woman show as she collected the green and gold jersey ahead of Charlotte Culver.

“I think everyone was having a tough day out there, and getting down the slippery slopes was challenging,” Williams admitted.

Katherine Hosking (NSW) was also fearless on a course which tested the very best, the Armidale rider completed her three laps in a time of 52:48 taking gold in the Junior Women ahead of Tegan Atherstone (VIC) and Sarah Tucknott (WA).