The current Oceania Champions dominated the fields on both days with commanding victories.
On Saturday Sheppard, devastated the women’s line-up winning in a time of 1:27:21, more than four minutes ahead of Australian champion Rebecca McConnell (ACT) and Holly Harris (NSW).
While Sunday the minor placing’s were filled by former Kiwi champion Kate Fluker (NZL) and Eliza Smyth (ACT).
The two wins put Sheppard on top of the national series ladder after her victories in Orange late last year.
“I’m really happy the way my season is going so far. Feeling really strong and good on the bike.”
“Tried to ride all the technical stuff really smooth and then the climbs worked to my strength,” the Wellington native said.
It was the first race back for McConnell who admitted she hasn’t been on a bike since the world championships in September.
“That was a huge shock to the system.”
“You can’t bring your B game and expect to beat Samara and the only way I knew I would be a chance is to be at the top of the descent which I managed to do on the first lap but then we hit the start straight on lap 2 and she was gone,” said the Canberra rider.
In the elite men, Cooper showed his early season form is nothing but solid as he left the field in his wake on both days with Daniel McConnell (ACT) and Tasman Nankervis (ACT) on the podium on Saturday while Cameron Ivory (NSW) bounced back from a flat tyre in Round 3 to take second with Reece Tucknott (WA) in third.
“It was a lot cooler than Saturday’s race, which was brutal. ”
“I felt really good out there today and it is a great start to the season,” Cooper said.
For McConnell it was his first hit out of the year and was under no illusions about how tough it would be.
“I made so many mistakes on the single track but it was good to get that one under the belt and look forward to improving from here,” the multiple Australian champion commented.
The weekend racing also allowed the Kiwis and Australia’s two elite champions a look at the Commonwealth Games Course to be used in April.
“It’s a course that is really made for Aussies and I hope it gives us a great advantage,” the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games elite women’s bronze medallist commented after Saturday’s race.
Cameron Wright (QLD) once again was a cut above the rest of the field in the Junior men taking the double wins ahead of Matt Dinham (NSW) and Sam Fox (TAS).
The next two rounds of the 2018 MTBA Cross-Country National Series will be held on the Australia Day long weekend in Pemberton, Western Australia.
Take one World Cup downhiller and one cross-country National Champion, mix them with a little Fox Creek grit, and then stick them in the Adelaide oven for two days… Voila! They emerge as Enduro National Champs!
Troy Brosnan and Rowena Fry harken from completely opposite ends of the mountain bike spectrum, and given their niche backgrounds in mountain biking, you might have thought them a pretty unlikely pair to be donning the Enduro National Champs jersey for 2017. But that’s what’s great about this discipline; it allows riders to bring to bear experience from all areas of mountain biking, rewarding those with the full basket of skills and fitness.
We caught up with Troy and Rowena to chat with them about taking the win over two great days of racing in Fox Creek, Adelaide.
Troy Brosnan, hometown hero, had a close battle with fellow World Cup racer and Adelaide lad Connor Fearon at Fox Creek. Fearon had the edge on day 1, but Troy edged ahead on the final four stages.
Flow: Firstly, congrats on a great season – second overall in the World Cup, and now a National Enduro Champs jersey too.
TB: Yep, I’m super proud of how the season went. Obviously it worked well for me in terms of the team and the bike, it was my best season ever, and I’m super excited to have been the first rider to take a Canyon to the top step of a World Cup.
Flow: And then to come out in the off season and win the Enduro Champs too. Was that a focus for you at all?
TB: It certainly wasn’t something I’d planned to do or was training for, in fact I only entered a week or so before because it’s right in my backyard and the trails out there are pretty fun. I actually thought it was a one day race, so I when I found out it was two I thought about pulling out. Even though it was pretty painful, I’m glad I did it in the end!
Flow: It looked like a great battle with Connor, another hometown rider. Do you guys ride together very much?
TB: Yeah it was good racing him. We don’t actually ride together very much in the off season – I mean, if we both end up riding at the same place we do, but it’s not something we plan. We have talked about it a bit in the past, but with our training both being on different schedules it hasn’t worked out.
Flow: So what bike did you decide to ride for the Champs?
Just my usual trail bike, it’s a Canyon Spectral (read our review here). I prefer it to the Strive, it seems to stay planted a little better, and I prefer less travel on a trail bike. It’s completely stock other than the Rockshox and shock, but otherwise it’s the very same bike you can buy off the website. It’s pretty cool, you can buy a stock bike and then race it to a National Championship!
Flow: So, National Champ, we’re not going to see you stepping into the ranks of the EWS any time soon?
TB: No, EWS rounds are off the cards for me, it’s a bit too hectic with the World Cup too, and it’s not something I really enjoy doing. I love riding my trail bike, but when it comes to the EWS it’s a bit of semi shit show I feel, and it doesn’t really excite me. Maybe when I’m all washed up like all the other old downhillers I’ll think about it!
Flow: Haha! Are you calling Sam Hill washed up.
TB: I’d better not! He almost beat me at the World Champs!
Rowena Fry is a name you’ve probably seen at the top of cross-country, marathon and stage race results sheets a lot over the past decade. The Launceston local has shifted her focus to Enduro this year, and after a good result in Derby stoked the fire, she’s stepped up to beat some impressive names to win the Champs.
Flow: Congratulations on the win. There are a lot of fast bike riders from Tassie.
Rowena: Yeah, we probably punch above our weight for that. We’ve got heaps of good roads and forests to ride in; and we don’t need to spend lots of time travelling in traffic anywhere!
Flow: Which local trails do you ride the most?
Rowena: We go out in Derby a fair bit; it’s only an hour from our place. The local Lonnie trails are more XC focused so we ride up Kate Reed and Trevallyn but they’re getting more gravity trails in now.
Flow: We see people coming to enduro from downhill backgrounds as well as cross country. Having been one of Australia’s top cross country racers, what brought you to enduro?
Rowena: Ummm, you don’t have to train as much! Enduro’s sort of just the best bits of cross country without as much of the not-so-nice bits – having to train for the hill climbs. I was probably one of the better cross country riders on technical trails. I’m trying to teach myself to jump at the ripe old age of 34, whereas the liaison and uphill or pedally stages come a lot more naturally to me than a lot of the downhillers.
Flow: You had a close battle with Philippa and Shelly. How did you feel coming to this race against these local women, both with quite a lot of downhill and enduro experience?
Rowena: I was feeling pretty good and then I saw the trails, and realised there was a fair old advantage if you know them. They were really hard trails to race on because they were so loose, so they were pretty demanding. I actually would’ve liked a few extra days practice, so will remember that for next time! Only practicing stages once or twice each was really hard work from my side of things. You also had to be conservative too because the trails were fairly unpredictable, if you were pinning it you could easily crash and loose massive chunks of time as well, so it was quite a tactical event in those regards.
Flow: Can you tell us about the bike you were racing?
Rowena: I was lucky enough to have the first new Scott Genius Tuned 900 to arrive in Australia. Scott didn’t really have a true enduro trail bike before this. It’s bang on; super light, 65.6 degree head angle. I run it mostly stock. I use the integrated bar and stem which is only 760mm wide, which is what I was running anyway. The new SRAM Eagle is so good; the get out of gaol gear at the top is really amazing. I swapped out the tyres to a Maxxis Minion on the front and Aggressor on the rear which I’m running at about 17/21 PSI without any rim protection.
Flow: Earlier in the year we saw you race at the Derby EWS and finish 10th. How was that race for you?
Rowena: I loved it. That was my first enduro race so I really didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, training was super dry and dusty and then it pissed down in the race. That was actually the most fun I’ve ever had in a thunder storm for seven hours, completely saturated, I’ve never had so much fun! I was actually a bit disappointed with my result. I hadn’t done the first round in Rotorua so I didn’t have a ranking which meant I had a lot of issues with traffic and because of the riding conditions it was just so hard to pass the girls I was catching. To be honest, I was actually trying to plug for a top 5 down there. I was obviously still stoked to get 10th but it made me a bit hungry to do a couple more.
Yeah, I think I’ll do more enduro races. I haven’t raced national level cross country for a number of years because the enjoyment wasn’t quite there for me after racing it for so long.
Flow: So what are your plans for next year? Will we see you take on more enduro national series races?
Rowena: Yeah, I think I’ll do more enduro races. I haven’t raced national level cross country for a number of years because the enjoyment wasn’t quite there for me after racing it for so long. But this is like a new sport; it makes me want to get out there and push my skills, learn to jump and go bigger and further. If they fit in with what I’m doing in life then I’ll certainly try and do a few more.
Flow: What does fill up the rest of your life?
Rowena: My husband, Ben, and I own the Avanti Plus bike shop in Lonnie, but I’m a physio as well so work as a physio full time. We’re into fishing as well.
Flow: Despite being awarded the best EWS trail of 2017, Tassie doesn’t have a round of the EWS next year. Australia and NZ completely miss out. Are we likely to see you venture further abroad to race any EWS rounds?
Rowena: I’d love to but it’s probably going to be too expensive, I think. I’d love to race Whistler, but it is so hard for Australians, if you are self-funded, to get across to those events. Especially after doing it for so long with XC; I’d love to, but I don’t think it’s realistic. That said, there are some good races in New Zealand that look fun to go and do as well.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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).
After a 2016 that saw Button reach the heights of a world cup podium in April, before crashing to a horrible low breaking his hip in June, Button made it back to racing and the top step with a surprising run to take gold.
“I thought I could have gone a bit faster but I’ll take it, really stoked.” “Just great to be back racing and can’t wait for next weekend,” he said.
Qualifying in fourth spot on Saturday, Button had a nervous wait as Graeme Mudd, was last down the hill.
But the Newcastle rider couldn’t top the 2:46:05 laid down by Button only moments earlier.
Mudd, who would end up fourth behind New Zealanders Keegan Wright and Wyn Masters, still produced the fastest time of the weekend in his qualifying run.
“I felt a bit flat as I didn’t eat enough in the hot weather, a rookie error.”
While in the women Danielle Beecroft added the Oceania Elite Women Downhill title to her 2017 national series victory, more than two seconds faster than Lisa Mathison (QLD) and Ronja Hill-Wright (NZL) who claimed the silver and bronze.
Four years ago, Beecroft from New South Wales, took out the U19 women’s category when the event was held in Glenorchy, Tasmania, but has never competed in an elite Oceania race.
“The run was great I made up a bit of time at the top so am really happy,” Beecroft said.
“It’s quite a simple course but hard to race cause it’s slippery and go too fast you could end up with a crash.”
Mathison, who finished second at last year’s national championship, turned up the heat on the regular national series riders and found herself again taking home silver.
“Haven’t been able to put in too much training so really don’t know how I would go but it’s great to be up amongst it,” the former cross-country Olympian admitted.
“I was conservative after a crash in practice yesterday but I knew there were areas you could stay off the brakes in some sections and it was a nice clean run.”
For Tegan Molloy (NSW) it was hardly the weekend that went to plan with the Thredbo rider struggling to put together a clean race run after her flat on Saturday and finishing seventh.
“I was going all out today and paid the price.”
“I rode off the track, hit a loose rock and rode off track and got caught in the bunting and lost a lot of time,” the current
Despite having notched up the wins at the recent national series, Baxter Maiwald (VIC) would have to play second fiddle by the barest of margins .1 to Joshua Clark (NSW) in the Junior Men with Josh Oxenham (NZL) third.
“Haven’t been on the bike much lately but it’s great to come back with a win and heading into Canungra.”
Cooper, who was defending his jersey from last year, produced one of the rides of the day to fight his way back from a crash, which saw him drop to sixth on lap one to take the title in a time of 1:25:31 ahead of Cameron Ivory (NSW) and Daniel McConnell (ACT).
“I just went wide and the front wheel washed out and I went over the bar. That wasn’t a big deal but more the fact my chain came off then and it got tangled up so I had to run to the tech zone,” the Christchurch native said.
“It’s the first time I’ve been able to win Oceania’s and nationals in the same year and get all those points in the bag.”
The race also continued to see the rise of Ivory, as he battled to hold off the New Zealander.
“When I went pass Anton in the feed zone I thought he’s not only small but strong and he’s angry and he’s going to come back hard towards the end.”
“He was back buzzing on my tyre with a lap to go and I just couldn’t match him on the last lap,” said Ivory who now heads into the National Championships at Canungra next weekend with plenty of confidence.
While it has been a slow start for the 5 time Australian champion in Daniel McConnell, the Canberra based rider was pleased to fight his way back into the bronze medal position.
“It was always going to be hard race for me today and I was really happy to finish third and still get some good points for the rest of the season.”
“And the form is sort of coming back,”
Local favourite Jared Graves (QLD) put his foot down early to test the legs of the field, but even he admitted it wasn’t the best strategy in the five-lap race.
“I think I rode the rookie race of my life,” Graves admitted.
“Even though the body felt amazing the first two laps and thought I was in a really good spot then lap 3 I had a crash on the corner and don’t know what happened, I just started cramping from there.”
For Shepard, who along with Cooper was coming off victory at the New Zealand Championships a fortnight earlier, made the most of a mechanical by Rebecca Henderson (ACT) on the first lap to take the lead, which she held on to for the remaining three laps and win in a time of 1:23:03, more than 2 minutes in front of Holly Harris (NSW) and Henderson.
“I got out pretty well and I think Bec had an issue so I got to sneak past her and find my rhythm and ride as smooth as I could,”
“It is an unbelievable start to 2017. I’ve never had this good a result at an elite level and I’m planning a bit of a campaign to qualify at Commonwealth Games,” said Sheppard who finished fifth in the same race at Queenstown last year.
It was a huge result for Harris, who was given special dispensation from the UCI to ride up in the elite category.
The Armidale rider has found a burst of form, with two national series wins and now an elite silver medal at the Oceania Championships.
“I just can’t believe it.”
“I really am trying to wind it up this year and really get myself ready for World Championships in Cairns,” said Harris.
For Henderson, who got out to a strong lead before she her chain came off right at the feed zone, then faced more problems only a few hundred metres down the course.
“But then had to do the re-fit with the derailleur and the gears and trying to get instructions on how to do that without getting help.”
“This and next week are the two big races of the domestic summer and they really mean a lot to me and to get a bit of a sting losing my Oceania title so really hoping I can retain my national champs jersey,” said the two time Olympian.
In the Junior Men, Sam Fox (TAS) produced the upset of the season so far taking out the title ahead Matt Dinham (NSW) and the previously undefeated Cameron Wright (QLD) in third.
New Zealand again featured on top of the podium, as Jessica Manchester (NZL) was more than five minutes in front of Katherine Hosking (NSW) and fellow Kiwi Liv Bishop (NZL).
Troy Brosnan (SA) has claimed his fourth consecutive Elite Men’s Downhill title with a nail-biting win on the final day of the 2016 Subaru Australian Championships at Bright, Victoria on Sunday.
It was an anxious wait for the third ranked rider in the world as Connor Fearon (SA) had the opportunity to knock his mate off top spot, but couldn’t better Brosnan’s 3:45:46 to again take silver behind his fellow South Australian, with Josh Button (NSW) in third.
“Its been such tough battle between Connor and I, we’re really good friends and I thought he might’ve had this one this year,” Brosnan said.
“It was hard to get down in one piece to be honest.”
Plenty of talk surrounded the big time battle between Brosnan and five time World Champion Sam Hill (WA), but it was Fearon who threw himself into the mix with the fastest seeding run to ensure he’d be last down the hill for the final.
With sister Tracey having claimed the Elite Women only moments before, Mick Hannah, was keen to add to his national title haul of four, the last won back in 2013. The Cairns kid would finish fifth.
As hundreds lined the course to get a chance to see Hill in action, the West Aussie wonder couldn’t produce, with a time of 4:01:79 seeing him finish 8th.
Button, who last finished on the podium back in 2009, produced a sensational run of 3:51:59 to tighten the screws on the last two on the course in Brosnan and Fearon.
And despite only getting back on his downhill bike for the first time since he crashed and dislocated his shoulder in Thredbo earlier in the week, the 22 year old was dialled in.
“I was coming to ride for fun but felt good this weekend and thought I’d give it a crack and put it all in the back of my head of what’s happened before this race and it all worked out.”
For Fearon, it’s the third straight year he’s been out-classed by Brosnan to the Australian jersey.
“It always seems Troy is one step ahead, but still trying to catch him and hope to beat him one day.”
Tracey Hannah has won her ninth Elite Women Downhill Australian Championships with a flawless run on the final day of the 2016 Subaru Australian MTB Championships in Bright, Victoria.
The 27-year-old proved just why she has reigned in her division since taking her first title back in 2004, with Lisa Mathison (QLD) and Danielle Beecroft (NSW) rounding out the podium.
“It’s good take that form overseas with me and to fly the Aussie flag over there makes me really proud to race for this country.”
It would be Hannah’s only Australian competition ahead of the Cairns World Cup next month, and the Queenslander didn’t let the huge contingent of fans down that cheered her down the course.
“Everybody knows my name and my nickname.”
“It’s really good the support and look forward to that when we have the world cup it’s gonna be a million times that in my home town can’t wait.”
Despite a hiccup at the start of the seeding run on Saturday which saw her flip over the handlebars, the world number three would still record the fastest time for the finals.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to have a good run.”
With world number 12 Tegan Molloy missing with a broken collarbone, it was left to the returning Beecroft to throw the down the gauntlet, and the New South Wales rider held the hot-seat with a 5:15:87 run.
That was until 2004 Athens Cross Country Olympian Lisa Mathieson, tossed age aside and took the top spot by 10seconds, showing she’s revelling in being back on the big stage.
“Wicked to be back to have a crack at this level of racing, and a bonus to come back and face riders like Tracey at the Nationals and be amongst this atmosphere.”
However Hannah was tearing down Mystic Mountain and left no doubt as to who would be taking home the gold for record ninth time.
She clocked 4:39:12 more than 16 seconds ahead of her fellow Queenslander.
The ironman of Australian Cross Country racing Dan McConnell (VIC) claimed his fifth National Title with a block-buster performance at the 2016 Subaru Australian MTB Championships at Bright, Victoria on Saturday.
With a second Olympic selection beckoning and a World Cup in Cairns next month, McConnell showed just why he’s been the dominant figure in XCO for the past 5 years in Australia.
The Victorian with the gold ahead of Cameron Ivory (NSW) and Kyle Ward (NSW).
“That one is pretty high I think to come here and get a national title hopefully can set myself up for a good year.”
“Today is the best I’ve felt in a long time, and it was great to feel such smoothness on the bike.”
After an opening lap of 21:12 seconds the 30-year-old Victorian, would produce 4 sub 20-minute laps around the course, which featured plenty of climbing.
Ivory and Ward, who have showed during the national series they will be the biggest threat to McConnell in future years, worked together in order to peg back any advantage the four time Australian champion.
“He’s really strong. He pulled away on the second climb of the first lap and we never saw him again,” said Ivory who is aiming for the second spot with McConnell on the Australian Olympic team to go to Rio.
Ward took the spoils over Ivory at Mt Stromlo last December in the second round of the National Seres, but it wouldn’t repeat itself as the Newcastle rider found an extra gear on the final lap.
“I thought I’d tag him early and I thought he’d just have a bit too much sharpness there at the end and he proved it.”
The two young bulls would still be chipping away as McConnell rode solo across the line to the cheers of fans to record a time of 1:37:51 seconds.
Rebecca Henderson (ACT) couldn’t have produced a more stunning performance to win the 2016 Subaru Australian MTB Championships at Bright, Victoria on Saturday.
The now three time Australian Cross Country Champion blew her rivals away on the first lap to put no doubt in anyone’s mind that she would be Rio bound in September, and finish in a time of 1:34:33seconds.
“The green and gold is something you don’t want to let go of that easy.”
Lined up to try and spoil the Henderson party was 2013 champion Peta Mullens (VIC) and 2012 title holder Jenni King (VIC) in what was perfect riding condition.
But they would only see the back of the Trek sponsored rider as soon as the gun went for the four laps around the Mystic Mountain Bike Park course.
Henderson, who had wrapped up the National Series title at Toowoomba a fortnight earlier, went through her first lap in 25:05secs before ramping it up second time around and extending the lead.
“For me I race pretty similar and I like to go out pretty hard I was just able to get a lucky break from Peta on one of the early climbs, and I just took that advantage.”
Mullens, admitted she knew from the gun it would be hard to stay with the defending champion, and then had to stave off the battle of King who sat on her wheel stalking the fellow Victorian.
“I knew straight away on the start loop that my legs didn’t have it I think as a bike rider you kind of know early on and I tried to put that aside and just power on as much as I can but she just had the better of me by far.”
Mullens eventually shook King off her wheel on the final lap to sustain a 19 second gap to the finish line to claim silver.
“It was bloody hard I gave it everything to try and stick with Peta mid-way and she broke me on the second last lap,” King said.
With plenty left in the tank, the 24 year Henderson would complete the final two laps in a time just over 23minutes.
It’ll be a busy month for the 2016 Australian Champion who will have to back up for Oceania’s next week before heading to Cairns for the first World Cup of the cross-country season.
ACT riders Brendan Johnston and Jenny Blair claimed maiden Australian titles today, winning gold at the 2015 Cross Country Marathon (XCM) Championships in Derby, Tasmania, presented by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).
The weekend saw two days of exciting mountain bike racing, with age-group riders competing on the Saturday and Elite riders battling for gold on the Sunday, resulting in hundreds of riders and spectators descending on the picturesque riverside town of Derby. Mark Tupalski (ACT) and Brendan Johsnton (ACT) led the Elite Men’s race after lap one, with 2014 champion Andy Blair (ACT) sitting in third.
In what may mark a handover to the next generation of marathon riders, young guns Tupalski and Johnston sat neck and neck for the first two laps.
Descending hard on the final lap, Johnston built an insurmountable lead and rode away with the win.
“I wasn’t overly confident coming in to today,” said Johnston. “I’ve been on it for awhile, since the beginning of the National Series, so I’m getting towards the end of my peak I think and I was worried I might be over the hill but I was able to pull this one out so I’m really happy.
Tupalski and Blair finished in second and third respectively.
In the Elite Women’s race, Jenny Blair (ACT) led the pack from the get go, securing herself a two minute lead by the second lap, which she extended to almost 10 minutes on her way to the title.
“I took advantage of the climb at the start and got away,” Blair explained. “The girls got back to me a bit but I knew that I’d been training with a change of pace recently so if I could just keep changing the pace I’d wear them out and keep going on my own and that’s exactly what happened.” Irish-born Blair spoke highly of the Blue Derby trails and said she was happy to now have jerseys from both Australia and Ireland.
“It is hard racing on them [the Blue Derby Trails] but for the everyday person who wants to come here for the weekend, it’s just amazing. “The trails are just so manicured – you can really rail it or you can just enjoy it.”
Eliza Kwan (ACT) and Rebecca Locke (VIC) rounded out the podium in second and third.
In Saturday’s action, local favourite Alex Lack (TAS) dealt well with the pressure of riding at home, taking out the Junior Men’s Marathon title, while Mikayla Wolfe (VIC) won the Under 17 Women’s title. Spectators were treated to a variety of entertainment over the weekend, including local food stalls and live music.
This is the first time a National race has been held on the Blue Derby trails, with the former mining town enjoying a resurgence, forming a new identity around an ever-expanding mountain bike trail network.
This weekend’s Championship race was also Round 7 of the World Mountain Bike Marathon Series, presented by the UCI, and is a key qualifying criteria for riders to be named on the Australian team for the annual UCI Marathon World Championships.
The Dance with the Devil – XCM National Championships was delivered by a joint partnership between MTBA, Dorset Council and Launceston Mountain Bike Club and MTBA will be returning to Derby next year for the 2016 XCM National Championships.
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.
With the aim of supporting our best Elite and Junior Mountain Bike riders to their best performances on the world stage, two grant programs are announced by the National body for the sport, Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).
The programs are the Cross Country High Performance Athlete Grant Program and the Under 19 Athlete Grant Program. Across both programs this exciting initiative is expected to support up to 30 eligible riders in 2015 with a total pool of over $50,000 available. The Cross Country High Performance Athlete Grant Program has been developed to assist selected riders with the costs of international competition. It is a tiered program targeted at riders who have shown the results and potential to accrue additional international ranking (UCI) points, which in turn will elevate Australia’s international ranking as a country and our ability to secure Olympic Games places for 2016.
Funding for this program is sourced from the Cycling Australia Elite Development contribution made to MTBA to assist mountain biking in achieving representation at the Olympic Games under the Australian Sports Commission’s (ASC) Winning Edge program.
The separate Under 19 Athlete Grant Program will assist junior riders with the costs of international competition, including, if they are selected, at the 2015 MTB World Championships in Vallnord, Andorra. The program is aimed at riders in the Cross Country and Downhill disciplines, who have shown consistent results and potential within the MTBA National Series competition for this age-group. Funding for the Cross Country grant recipients is again sourced from the Cycling Australia Elite Development Contribution as above. Funding for the Downhill grant recipients comes directly from MTBA.
MTBA President Mr Russ Baker AM spoke of the aims of the program.
“We all take a huge amount of pride in the performance of our riders on the international stage. This MTBA initiative provides benefits for our better performing Elite and Under 23 cross country riders, for developing riders and for Australia. As we lead up to the Rio Olympics and beyond, it is important that we support riders who improve Australia’s international ranking and ensure that Australia is on the start line in Rio. This program will do that, while making it a little bit easier for our riders to travel to competitions and recognising their performances. But it also supports our developing junior riders who will one day take over the reins in the Elite fields.”
“Its not just about the Olympics. While Downhill is not an Olympic discipline, we are making some support available to the junior downhill riders so that Australia can maintain our very high international status in downhill into the future.”
“In addition to family support, many of our riders receive support from Pro Teams, Australian teams, businesses and individuals. I thank you all for your support. I encourage all Australians to support our riders in whatever fashion they can as we approach an Olympic year. MTBA will soon be introducing a support framework for riders across all disciplines at world-level events and Australians will also be able to support our mountain bikers in a tax-deductible fashion similar to the Pursuit for Gold initiative.”
MTBA CEO, Mr Shane Coppin, focused on the dual goals of athlete and organisation support.
“I have day to day contact with our Elite athletes and any additional funding is a great help to them in achieving their goals. “This program has been developed in consultation with a broad range of parties including our committee, staff, athletes and professional teams. “It is important that, while we work towards the ultimate goal of direct ASC funding for our sport, we as the National body support our athletes to continued success on the world stage”.
Athletes should be aware that the Cross Country High Performance Athlete Grant Program requires applications to be considered for funding whereas the Under 19 Athlete Grant program does not require an application and grants will be automatically issued to riders meeting the criteria.
Olympian Bec Henderson (ACT) and Scott Bowden (TAS) have powered to Cross Country wins at Round 2 of the 2014/15 Subaru National Mountain Bike Series, run by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).
Bowden signalled his arrival in this year’s Series with a second place in You Yangs, and today he confirmed this with his maiden National Series win. He led the field from Lap 1, with Cameron Ivory (NSW) and Brendan Johnston (ACT) hot on his heels.
Many riders mounted a challenge but Bowden was untouchable today, increasing his lead every lap for the first four. “After You Yangs I had fairly high expectations of myself but I also didn’t really know what to expect, but I’m over the moon,” said Bowden. “I just tried to push the descents and keep the legs as fresh as I could – it was such a hard course, fair bit of a climbing but I just tried to ride to my strengths.”
Second place went to Cameron Ivory (NSW) who recovered from an early incident to have an outstanding second half of the race, moving up from fourth place to give himself a genuine winning chance. “I had a little bit of bad luck on the second lap, I hit something pretty hard on one of the descents and I think I might have burped my tyre,” said Ivory. “I got to the top of the descent and I thought it was still ok but over the doubles it was just all over the place so I thought I better pull in and fix it, I tried to settle back in and not go out too hard but on that last lap I was just corked, especially up the climb.”
Brendan Johnston (ACT) rode strongly into third place and is already looking forward to tomorrow’s race. “I’m really happy with third – I knew second was out of reach so I tried to shut it down for the last lap and save a bit for tomorrow which I’m looking forward to. “There’s strong guys that turn up to every round and it’s good to see a lot of them travelled over here to Pemberton. It’s a long way but as I think everyone today would say, it’s worth it.”
Winner of the Under 19 Men’s, Liam Jeffries (VIC) rode an epic race setting a pace equal to the Elite men early on.
Luke Brame (NSW) and Guy Frail (NSW) went head to head in a fight for second place, with Brame edging out Frail in a sprint finish to retain the Series Leader’s jersey.
In the Elite Women’s race, Henderson took an early lead, accelerating to be clear of the field by Woodcutters Climb half-way around Lap 2, which turned out to be the decisive move. “I didn’t have a race plan today which is kind of unusual for me,” said Henderson who is undefeated in the series. “I got a little gap on the first lap and Peta closed it down. I could hear her puffing behind me starting the climb so I thought I better pounce and I was just able to open it up from there.”
Recently crowned 2015 Subaru National Road Series Champion Peta Mullens (VIC) had a great race to secure the silver medal, pushing Henderson early. “I wanted a hard race today,” said Mullens. “At You Yangs we all went out a little slower because it was hot and we knew it would be a long race. But today I felt a little bit fitter and I wanted to go out and have a hard race. “Bec went from the gun and put the pressure on and I was trying to chase her on that second lap and she just kept getting out of the saddle on those little pinch climbs”.
MTBA Junior Development Coach Jodie Willett (QLD) closed the gap to Jenni King on Lap four, riding into third place. “I did a triathlon last weekend and I’ve just been doing random stuff, lots of endurance but nothing hard,” said Willett. “I knew if I went out too quick I would just blow up so I sat behind Em [Parkes] for a while and just worked my way through the field”.
In the Under 19 women’s race, local Sarah Tucknott (WA) rode strongly to take the win ahead of Queensland’s Megan Williams.
Tomorrow will see the men and women take to the tracks in Pemberton once again for Round three of the series.
Bec Henderson spoke of the challenges that await: “There’s even more single track and not that long, gruelling climb – it should be fun and hopefully we will have a little bit left in the legs!”
Pemberton Mountain Bike Park is a new location for the 2014/15 series, with Perth Mountain Bike Club combining some of Australia’s most challenging and enjoyable mountain bike trails with some fantastic leisure facilities including a natural swimming pool.