Olympians bolster next round of Australian Mountain Bike Series
The Australian National Series All Mountain Cup has been bolstered by the confirmation that 2012 London Olympians Rebecca Henderson and Daniel McConnell will contest round two in Thredbo this weekend.
The duo skipped the opening round in Mt Buller, with Henderson's absence paving the way for Victorian and Target Trek teammate Peta Mullens to claim two of the three stages on offer at Mount Buller. Mullens leads the AMC general classification from Swiss rider Nathalie Schneitter and Tory Thomas respectively.
Buoyed by her recent signing with the Trek Factory Racing team - the global Trek World Cup team, Henderson is motivated to perform well in the Series which is her first hit out since contesting her the Olympic Games. "I am really excited and motivated to train harder and race well for the new team," Henderson said who is looking forward to a more stable 2013 season after a 2012 season full of highs and lows.
"Last year was a really long season, we were racing full gas from February all the way until September."
Following her Olympics campaign, Henderson turned her focus to the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships before injuring her shoulder just days before the competition in Austria last September.
The injury forced Henderson to take her post season break from the bike earlier than planned, leaving her unsure of her form heading into Australia's national series. "I'm not really sure how my form is at this stage; I had a crash which took me out of Worlds so I had a bit more time to recover after the Olympics," Henderson said.
"(But) hopefully I can compete against my teammate Peta, who won the first round, as she is obviously in really good form at the moment.
"The summer for me is about trying to build a strong base of riding before the World Cups and the world championships in September. It's a particularly long season to be in peak form at the moment."
Henderson, 21, revealed her Olympic experience has made her hungrier than ever to continue competing on the world stage again. "The Olympics bought out the best in me last year, and it is something you can only truly get a grasp of if you are there.
"I am definitely excited and extremely motivated to be in Rio in 2016," Henderson said.
Similarly Henderson's coach and Olympic teammate Daniel McConnell will make his AMC debut and will be looking to knock Chris Jongewaard (BH Jet Black Cycling) off top spot in the rankings.
Jongewaard claimed both the cross country and point-to-point races at Mount Buller and leads the general classification over young-gun Jack Haig (Torq) and series defending champion Andrew Blair (Swell Specialized MTB Team).
Jongewaard, the five time national cross country champion, says he is excited by McConnell's presence in the series.
"I think it would be important to Dan’s season to have some strong competition in Australian mountain bike racing and I am looking forward to a challenge," Jongewaard explained.
"At Thredbo, I will be looking for a solid result and using this opportunity to test the legs leading into the national champs," Jongewaard said of the Australian MTB Championships held at Stromlo Forrest Park in Canberra from February 20 - 24.
"I can hopefully get some good training in over the coming weeks and I would like to think I have a good chance in retaining the leader's jersey."
The series received a blow with defending champion Andrew Blair forced to withdraw after suffering an injury during a training crash.
Thredbo is the second round within the Subaru Australian Mountain Bike National Series before competitors head Bright to conclude the series.