Kiwis Control MTBA Cross-Country on The Gold Coast

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).

Samara Sheppard.

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.

Bec McConnell.

“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.

Cameron Ivory.

“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.

Daniel McConnell.

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.

Eliza Smyth.

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).

Cameron Wright.

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.

Zoe Cuthbert

Photos – Element Photo & Video

Cairns World Champs: XCO Saturday – Elite Women’s Photo Gallery

Australia’s squad of six elite women was headed up by Bec Henderson, along with Peta Mullens, Eliza Kwan, Kath Mcinerney, Anna Beck and Tori Thomas. Get into the dust below, with our huge photo gallery and grab the full results here.


The UCI has taken to scanning every bike with what looks like a Gameboy to check for hidden motors in the XCO. Peta Mullens snuck her’s through somehow.
Eliza Kwan limbers up.

All Aussie eyes were on Bec to see what she could pull out of the bag. 20th place was a great result.

Bang.
The Swiss instantly took control of the race, with Jolanda Neff setting the pace the whole way.

Andy Blair, on the sidelines this time.
Kath Mcinerney and Anna Beck come out of the feed zone side by side.
Eliza Kwan tries to cool it down.
Pete Dowse had the important job of keeping Bec fed and hydrated.
Yana Belomoina pulled the pin early, retiring after just a lap or two.
Eliza Kwan hand plants her way through a tricky, tight switchback.
Bec Henderson.
Great Britain’s Annie Last rode amazingly well, fighting through the Swiss into second.
Anna Beck, using the dropper post to full effect to hammer down Crocslide.
Jolanda Neff just out climbed the entire field.
Third place for Pauline Ferrand Prevot.
Anna Beck.
Karla Stepanova.
This course is brutal. Bleeding noses, broken bikes. The Swiss support crew swing into action.
Peta Mullens through the feed zone.
Dean Clark hands a bottle to Kath Mcinerney.
Neff rolls into rainbow stripes.
The battle isn’t over till you’ve crossed that line. Henderson on the final straight.
Tah dah!
Plenty of emotion back in the team tent.


Ivory And Henderson Prevail In Armidale

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

Jared Graves made an appearance, finishing an impressive third.
Jared Graves made an appearance, finishing an impressive third.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bec Henderson took the win in the elite women.
Bec Henderson took the win in the elite women.

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

The 18 women had 6 laps of the punishing course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

XCO World Cup Highlights and Replay from Nové Město na Moravě

Third win for Schurter in Nove Mesto – he attacks from outset.

The men’s race was expected to be a showdown between Julien Absalon (BMC), winner of the first two rounds, and World Champion Schurter, who flatted in the first round and skipped the second for a stint on the road. Schurter threw the gauntlet down by attacking immediately, and was in the lead by the first lap.

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano returned to Europe for Round 3 of the cross-country series under almost perfect weather conditions in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, and the riders responded with superb racing. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Liv Pro XC) took the first Elite victory of her career in the women’s race.

Ferrand Prevot, an Under-23 rider who is competing in the Elite category, charged to the front on the opening start loop from back on the fifth row in the start order, and had a slight gap on Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), World Cup leader Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC) and Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory) as they started the first of five laps. Her gap steadily increased through the race, as she consistently laid down the fastest lap times on every lap.

Click this link for the full replay.

#throwbackthursday Miguel Martinez – Little Mig – Spotted in Cairns

Miguel Martinez, the 38 year old French Cross County rider is best known to the Australian mountain bike community for his strong rivalry to Cadel Evans through the 90s and taking a Gold Medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. He then went on to form a part of the French domination of the World Cup, but vanished from the dirt and spent the last few years racing road bikes for various teams. A good history of his tumultuous career here. 

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We spotted the muscly little powerhouse in Cairns, rocking a super Italian style setup, on a new team with the Italian high end lightweight component manufacturer FRM. Marzocchi forks, gold Formula brakes and gold bar ends set this guy apart from the rest, still killing it and clearly having a good time back in Cairns, 18 years later than the last time.

Enjoy some old throwback videos from the Litte Mig era.

The Sydney 2000 Olympics.

1996 Cairns World Champs, where Miguel placed second ahead of Cadel Evans.

The 1999 World Champs, with the benefit of hindsight, this race may have been a slightly turbocharged event.

Style Check: World Cup Women’s XCO

It’s always interesting to watch different riders tackle the same section of trail. Line choice and riding style are well analysed in the world of downhill, but rarely in XCO, even less so in Women’s XCO. Flow set up shop trackside at the Cairns World Cup during the Elite Women’s XCO to capture the different lines and styles of some of the world’s leading women over this tricky off camber rock roller/hip jump.

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Jolanda Neff. 9th place.
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Tanja Zakelj. 5th place.
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Bec Henderson. 10th place.
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Julie Bresset. DNF.
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Sabine Spitz. 4th place.
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Emily Batty. 2nd place.
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Eva Lechner. 1st place.
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Mio Suemasa. 26th place, but totally killing every descent.

Cairns 2014: XCO Finals

Tropical North Queensland, where everything can kill you, and will probably try… including Mother Nature. After covering the rocks in mud for yesterday’s downhill, the sun came out in backpacker-blistering force today, right in time to cook the world’s best cross country racers. On went the ice vests and out went the mud on a rapidly drying track.

It was another unreal day for Australian racers, with top tens in both the Elites and Under 23s. Buoyed by the screaming hordes gathered around the course’s pointiest bits, Bec Henderson and Dan McConnel absolutely flogged themselves and grabbed two huge results. In her first year in Elites, Bec Henderson had set herself the goal of a top ten this season – she got it on the very first round of the series, admitting she’d pushed far harder than planned with the crowd driving her on. McConnell, after finishing the World Cup season second last year, got things started on the right foot. He rode a flawless race to fourth. This is a man looks very comfortable at the fast end of a World Cup. He’s tasted victory and wants more.

You can view the full results here (Elite men’s and women’s, plus Under 23s guys and gals). Now feast your head windows on our gallery below!

Under 23 Cam Ivory grinds up the last few pinches of the XCO climb.
Cam Ivory was today’s best placed U23 Aussie, with an 8th. He grinds up the last few pinches of the XCO climb.
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Belgian Jeff Luyten digs deep.
The upper rock garden was causing fewer problems than when it was wet, but this section of crash netting still caught more than a few riders today.
The upper rock garden was causing fewer problems than when it was wet, but this section of crash netting still caught more than a few riders today.
Appreciate this photo. It is very hard to focus on a moving tree cutter ant.
Appreciate this photo. It is very hard to focus on a moving leaf cutter ant.
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Under 23 Ethan Kelly just cracked into the top twenty.
Yep. It's seriously, seriously steep dropping into the Jacob's Ladder A-line.
Yep. It’s seriously, seriously steep dropping into the Jacob’s Ladder A-line.
Trek Factory Racing's Emily Batty rode into second today. She was clearly ecstatic with the result. Lap one climb.
Trek Factory Racing’s Emily Batty rode into second today. She was clearly ecstatic with the result. Lap one climb.
Gritting teeth and getting it done. Bec Henderson rode out of her skin for a top ten in her first Elite World Cup.
Gritting teeth and getting it done. Bec Henderson rode out of her skin for a top ten in her first Elite World Cup.
Tree monkeytographer.
Monkeytographer.
The entrance into the Rodeo Drop was far less troublesome in the dry.
The entrance into the Rodeo Drop was far less troublesome in the dry. A wide-eyed Elisabeth Osl.
Emily Batty drops into the Rodeo Drop on the bell lap.
Emily Batty hucks into the Rodeo Drop on the bell lap.

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Jolanda Neff.
Jolanda Neff.
Bresset.
Julie Bresset, before things turned sour.
World Champ Julie Bresset had a day to forget. This massive tumble on Jacbos Ladder ended her day.
World Champ Julie Bresset had a day to forget. This massive tumble on Jacbos Ladder ended her day.
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Kiwi Katie O’Neill. 25th today.
Eva Lechner. The tiny Italian skims her way down the rocks.
Eva Lechner. The tiny Italian skims her way down the rocks.
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Eva Lechner throws her hands in the air. She just don’t care. Cos she won a World Cup.
Hugs for a champion. Eva Lechner, your Cairns World Cup Women's XCO winner.
Hugs for a champion. Eva Lechner, your Cairns World Cup Women’s XCO winner.
And a smooch for Irina Kalentieva. Fifth for the experienced Russian.
And a smooch for Irina Kalentieva. Fifth for the experienced Russian.
Dan McConnell gets warmed up. Well, more warmed up - it was a toasty day.
Dan McConnell gets warmed up. Well, more warmed up – it was a toasty day.

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Who recognises this man. That's right, it's Miguel Martinez, back once again after 18 years. He last raced Cairns at the World Champs in 1996.
Who recognises this man? That’s right, it’s Miguel Martinez, Sydney Olympic Gold Medallist, back once again after 18 years. He last raced Cairns at the World Champs in 1996.
Kulhavy. Itching to get going.
Kulhavy. Itching to get going.
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Start line nerves.
D-Mac, lap one.
D-Mac. Fourth!
The lower half of the descent looked so good we wanted to nab a bike and give it a run. Loads of doubles, rollers and berms.
The lower half of the descent looked so good we wanted to nab a bike and give it a run. Loads of doubles, rollers and berms.
The vibe at Jacobs Ladder was unreal!
The vibe at Jacobs Ladder was unreal! Thomas Litshcer.
Absalon got a rear flat on his second lap and Flückiger (taking the A-line) pounced.
Absalon got a front flat on his second lap and Flückiger (taking the A-line) pounced.
Absalon. Even with a flat tyre, the man is just about unstoppable. He powered back to the front and opened up an unassailable lead.
Absalon. Even with a flat tyre, the man is just about unstoppable. He powered back to the front and opened up an unassailable lead.
Andy Blair had a good day today, cracking into the top 30 with 28th. He looked on form - awesome to see him back in Cairns.
Andy Blair had a good day today, cracking into the top 30 with 28th. He looked on form – awesome to see him back in Cairns.
Flückiger. Style for miles.
Flückiger. Style for miles.
Fontana. Our favourite baggy-wearing Italian.
Fontana. Our favourite baggy-wearing Italian.

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McConnell.
McConnell.
The larger than life Paul Van Der Ploeg bombs down Crocslide. That's a lot of Victorian to decelerate.
The larger than life Paul Van Der Ploeg bombs down Crocslide. That’s a lot of Victorian to decelerate.
Martinez. Still killing it.
Martinez. Still killing it.
Julien does it once again. World Cup win 28. It's almost hard to believe.
Julien does it once again. World Cup win 28. It’s almost hard to believe.
Kulhavy didn't have his best day out. 10th for the big praying mantis.
Kulhavy didn’t have his best day out. 10th for the big praying mantis. He make a 29er look like a 26″.
D-Mac, D-Mac, D-Mac! After high five-ing the whole finish straight, Dan McConnell takes a fourth.
D-Mac, D-Mac, D-Mac! After high five-ing the whole finish straight, Dan McConnell takes a fourth.

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Blairy.
Blairy.
Ooo, lovers! XCM Champ Jenny Fay sneaks a finish line pash.
Ooo, lovers! XCM Champ Jenny Fay sneaks a finish line pash.
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Absalon. Job done. What’s next?
Wooo! Party!
Wooo! Party!

Cairns 2014: XCO Practice Gallery

Rainy conditions again this morning kept many of the XCO riders out on the roads around Cairns, rather than trashing their bikes out on course. But a handful of riders took advantage of the quiet conditions to take a better look at some of the trickier sections; one of those riders was ten squillion time World Cup winner Julien Absalon.

Julien Absalon again, looking so relaxed on Jacobs Ladder it could be called Jacobs Lay-Z-Boy.
Julien Absalon again, looking so relaxed on Jacobs Ladder it could be called Jacobs Lay-Z-Boy.
Julien Absalon getting ready to thread the narrow line you've got to nail to make it through the rocks quickly and cleanly.
Julien Absalon getting ready to thread the narrow line you’ve got to nail to make it through the rocks quickly and cleanly.
Jodie Willet, still smiling after a huge smash on the Jacobs Ladder A-Line. She's the only woman we've seen (or heard of) riding the A-Line. We hope she's back for racing on Sunday.
Jodie Willet, still smiling after a huge smash on the Jacobs Ladder A-Line. She’s the only woman we’ve seen (or heard of) riding the A-Line. A broken scaphoid was the outcome… Bugger.
Canberra's Brendan Johnstone on one of the faster sections, it's crazy how dry and hard packed the cross country course is in comparison to the downhill. Riders looked so clean!
Canberra’s Brendan Johnstone on one of the faster sections, it’s crazy how dry and hard packed the cross country course is in comparison to the downhill. Riders looked so clean!

 

Holly Harris takes the Jacobs Ladder B-line. It's definitely the long way round, but as Jodie Willet showed, it's a load safer.
Holly Harris takes the Jacobs Ladder B-line. It’s definitely the long way round, but as Jodie Willet showed, it’s a load safer.
Snake Bite Alley
Snake Bite Alley.
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Sebastian Jayne, dropping in. No worries at all.

Cairns 2014: XCO Course Preview

With the downhill providing so much camera fodder over the last two days, we thought it was high time that we had a proper look around the cross country course today ahead of Sunday’s showdown.

Glen Jacobs declared it was his intention to create a course that would really test riders’ technical abilities, not just their legs and lungs. He’s certainly done that. Even the climb is technical, especially the inside line passing opportunities, which are generally steep and slick.

Midway through our lap of the XCO today, the heavens opened and the course showed its teeth. The red clay that covers much of the track is seriously slippery and when tyres track this sludge across the rocks, well, it’s a nasty scenario.

Here are a few highlights we were able to capture before the rain put an end to shooting.

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Get out of here you filthy beast! Quick, chase him on our bikes!
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This is typical of the climb – the course splits regularly, with two or three options, generally with a serious time bonuses for the more techy options.
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Beneath the surface of the trail you’ll find a lot of tyre-slicing, jagged shale-like rock. In the areas where it’s exposed, there’s plenty of potential for flats.
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Another typical inside line option on the climb. Does this look slippery to you?
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No b-line here, sorry. This jagged section comes right at the top of the climb when you’re least ready for it. The Russian ladies eye it up.
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The Minjin spirit is strong here.
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Croc Slide. Steeper than it  looks, and twice as intimidating in the wet. This 20 metre-long rock slab is off-camber and rough the whole way down.
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There’s actually plenty of grip on Croc Slide, at least when there aren’t dozens of riders hitting it and covering it in clay.
Jacobs Ladder. There's a huge time advantage to be had here if you're willing to take the right hand a-line. Again, it's far more intimidating in the flesh. And we think it's pretty clear how slick those rocks are.
Jacobs Ladder. There’s a huge time advantage to be had here if you’re willing to take the right hand a-line. Again, it’s far more intimidating in the flesh. And we think it’s pretty clear how slick those rocks are.

Video: Smithfield Revealed #2 – World Cup XCO course preview

Take an exclusive first hand look at the 2nd section of the Smithfield XCO course with current XCE MTB World Champion and all round legend Paul van der Ploeg, together with reigning Australian XCM champion, the equally legendary Jenni King.

Paul shares his unique perspective on the trails and explains where the race will be won and lost when the best MTB riders on the planet battle it out at the UCI MTB World Cup on Cairns, April 25 -27.

Stay tuned for the next instalments in this four part series to be released shortly. And if you missed part one, check it out here!

Book your tickets today to witness the action first hand at: www.worldcupcairns.com.au

Video: Smithfield Revealed #1 – World Cup XCO course preview


Take an exclusive first hand look the Smithfield XCO course with current XCE MTB world champion and all round legend Paul van der Ploeg, together with reigning Australian XCM champion, the equally legendary Jenni King.

Paul shares his unique perspective on the trails and explains where the race will be won and lost when the best MTB riders on the planet battle it out at the UCI MTB World Cup on Cairns, April 25 -27.

Stay tuned for the next instalments in this four part series to be released shortly…

Book your tickets today to witness the action first hand at: worldcupcairns.com.au

Racing: Graves and King win National XCO Round 1

elite men xco

Jared Graves (QLD) and Jenni King (VIC) have won the Cross Country Olympic races at the first round of the Subaru National Mountain Bike Season in Adelaide.

Riders faced a challenging course while completing laps of the Eagle Mountain Bike Park cross country course in Adelaide’s hills, and tough conditions in hot and windy weather.

In the Elite Men’s race, the simple version of the story is that Graves led from start to finish. Things were far more complex than that, however.

Graves, known for his ability to ride at an Elite level in almost any cycling discipline, has been World Champion in Mountain Biking’s Four Cross in 2009 and is regularly on the world podium in both the Down-Hill and Enduro disciplines.

Graves started strongly in todays race, with a close chasing group of Cameron Ivory (NSW), Brendan Johnston (ACT) and Michael Crosbie (VIC) at the end of the first lap.

During lap 2 Graves’ forks collapsed, and to the amazement of all he kept riding strongly. On the same lap, Crosbie made a passing move up to second place, and was made aware by spectators that the leading Graves was hampered due to his bike problems, and while he tried he couldn’t quite chase down the powering Graves.

Graves talked about his mechanical issue. “It caused my arms to be more tired than my legs, I could barely hold on”.

The race was his first National Cross-Country round win since being a junior 13 years ago. Graves was happy with the result, and other cross country riders may need to be on the lookout for some even stronger performances. “I’ve had 12 months of solid aerobic training, and I’m looking to build on this some more even”.

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In the Elite Women’s race, Tori Thomas (VIC), Jenni King (VIC) and Peta Mullens (VIC) dominated the field throughout.

Thomas led the race for the first 5 laps, with Mullens sitting tight behind in second.

Thomas, who would ultimately finish second, said “I was pleased to be mixing it up at the front, I had a pretty good lead at one stage but then I had a problem on a descent, but I’m really happy with today’s result”.

Eventual winner King was happy to sit in 3rd place for much of the race. “I went out fairly hard and then settled into a rhythm. I actually thought that I went out too hard and that’s why I backed off a fair bit.

She made her move on the second-last lap and managed to hold off Thomas in a sprint finish. “I thought with 2 laps to go I’m going to give it everything and really worked the descents and the little punchy hills”.

For the DownHill event, Saturday is the timed seeding day, where riders compete for start times in Sunday’s finals.

Danielle Beecroft had the fastest time (2:34.06) for Elite Women in her first official race in the category after stepping up from juniors. “I was pretty happy, I just cruised down and had some fun and I’ll see how I go tomorrow”.

In the Elite Men’s seeding, local Connor Fearon led the field with the fastest overall time (2:02.87) of the day. “It was pretty slippery, I think the key was to keep your speed consistent and not try too hard”.

Both will lead racing in Sunday’s Downhill finals as the first round of the series to an action-packed close.

Yesterday’s racing saw the Cross Country Eliminator format. Reigning Oceania Champion Rowena Fry was the hot favourite in the Elite Women’s final, and she raced Sarah Holmes (SA), Emily Parkes (NSW) and young gun Sarah Tucknott (WA).

Just as in the Oceania Championships, Parkes started strong leading the field onto the first climb. Unfortunately Parkes lost traction on the inside line and crashed allowing the rest of the field to pass.

From this position Fry took the lead, never looking back to claim the Round 1 XCE win. Holmes claimed second place in a sprint finish behind Fry and Parkes managed to recover from her earlier crash claiming final podium position in third.

In the Elite Men’s Eliminator, Cameron Ryan (SA) led the field from the gun, and maintained a lead in a close race from the fastest seeded Ivory.

Both riders negotiated the technical elements well, and on the final corner, Ivory made a strong passing move and then maintained his efforts to out-sprint the local Ryan to take the win. Third place went to Connor Mackne (NSW).