Aussies aiming for downhill dominance

Men top timesheets on home turf in downhill prelude

Australia’s Mick Hannah made the most of his home-turf advantage to top the timesheets in today’s timed downhill run ahead of Sunday’s title race at the International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra. Compatriot Shaun O’Connor was also quickest in the junior men’s event, on a course that had added grip in the turns due to overnight rain.

“I am happy with that, I wasn’t sure whether I’d do a good hard run today or save my legs and I had a decent smooth run but definitely I can go a lot harder in most of the technical stuff,” Hannah said. “Instead of blowing my legs up I took it a bit steady at the end there.”

Hannah, who claimed the Australian title on this course, believes overnight rain played a factor in narrowing the margin between rider’s times.

“The course is completely different, it’s easy, it’s like going from dirt to bitumen,” Hannah said. “The times would have been a lot closer [today] because of that, a lot of the guys would be more nervous and make more mistakes when it’s a bit skatey. Sunday will be a much harder race.”

Behind Hannah was another Australian, former World Champion Sam Hill, who claimed his title on British shores in 2007. British defending champion Gee Atherton was fourth fastest during today’s run, but will surely be looking to take an upset on Hill’s home soil come Sunday.

Great Britain’s Tracy Moseley recorded the swiftest run in the elite women’s category, crossing the line a mere 0.03 ahead of Canada’s Claire Buchar. Moseley’s team-mate Fionn Griffiths was third. In the junior women’s event Australia’s Holly Baarspul was the third best of the day behind French duo Anais Pajot and Julie Berteaux.

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