By Sharon Payne
Newly crowned national champion, Chris Jongewaard, backed up his win at the Australian titles last Sunday by winning the fourth national series round in Mt Buller. Jongewaard rode the five laps in an impressive 2:09:17 over a newly-developed, 8km cross course and called the race tougher than winning the national championships last weekend in Canberra. With his win, Jongewaard kept his series lead, with only one race remaining.
"I reckon last weekend was a little bit easier for me," said Jongewaard. "The first couple of laps were good but the course is so rough it gets you every lap, so it's very fatiguing out there."
Soaring temperatures elsewhere in the southern states reached over 40 degrees Celsius; however, 400 mountain bike riders at the event were relieved to race in mountain air that was nearly 10 degrees cooler. Many riders still succumbed to the heat and tough conditions, and even for Jongewaard it was the rocks that caused him to struggle in some sections of the course.
In the women's race, Zoe King from Manly won her first race of the national season after sitting behind national champion Rowena Fry early in the four-lap race. King pounced on Fry on the penultimate climb and gained a minute on her to secure the victory.
"It feels great, it's a really long day out in the heat. Two hours is a long race anyway and just to be in these temperatures it was hard work. I certainly went out conservatively and tried to stay strong," explained King.
Fry claimed second in a sprint for the line with Mt Beauty rider, Tory Thomas, in third. Jodie Willett finished seventh and kept her series lead.