By Sharon Payne
Jared Graves celebrated his 23rd birthday and a win in his first Mountain Cross race in Australia at Thredbo on Friday night. The Toowoomba rider won the final just beating ex-World BMX Champion, Wade Bootes from the Gold Coast. The two had last raced at the World Championships in Italy in September where Graves won the silver medal and Bootes finished tenth.
Graves won in straight heats and chose the inside track to keep Wade Bootes, his closest rival, on his outside. "They didn't know who to give lane choice to because we'd both won all our rounds," said Graves. "We did paper, scissors, rock and I won that so. I chose Lane 2." The decision paid off for Graves. "I knew Wade and I would be pretty similar to the first corner, so for me it was pretty important to be on his inside," he added.
The Toowoomba rider had just recovered from a training injury just in time to make the trip down to Thredbo.
Bootes, 34 now bows out of Mountain Cross riding to focus his attention on gaining selection in the Australian BMX Olympic squad to race in Beijing in 2008. "I'll start focusing on the Olympics. It's going to be tough getting on the team," stated Bootes.
Third was Shane Wode from Brisbane.
The favourite to win was National Series Leader, Jared Rando from Canberra crashed in the first turn of the semi-finals with Luke Strom.
The new style of track design got the approval of the World Class riders. International track designer, Glen Jacobs has created a unique mountain cross track that allows for closer and more exciting racing.
For a complete list of results, click here.