By Sharon Payne
Chris Jongewaard and Katherine O'Shea won the third round of the National Mountain Bike Series cross country in Geelong last weekend. Racers were surprised to find themselves racing in the rain at a venue that tends to be dry. Conditions were severe enough that the super D was cancelled.
In the men's cross country, Jongewaard led from the first of five laps and won in an overall time of two hours, nine minutes and 17 seconds. A top class field was assembled, akin to a national championship. The field included three Olympians: Beijing's Dan McConnell and Athens' Sid Taberlay and Josh Flemming.
Jongewaard surprised himself after recently returning from a five-week layoff. "I just went out and wanted to have a good workout. I did fade in last three laps," said Jongewaard, who added that the granite tracks at the You Yang's Regional Park held up surprisingly well despite the deluge.
"It was horrendous conditions, but it's probably the track I would rather ride in the wet," Jongewaard said. "The conditions didn't affect the race results overall."
Aiden Lefmann and Under 23 rider Nathan Haas completed the top three, but after his win Jongewaard takes over the overall series lead.
In the women's cross country race, 29-year-old O'Shea said she'd only ridden there twice in the wet, despite the course being located close to home. She went out strong in the first of four laps. "I actually didn't think people would let me go. I got a decent lead and just tried to maintain it after that. It was hard out here but hard for everyone."
Covered in head to toe with mud, she was clearly delighted by her win. "It's quite cold now," she said after winning. "A shower would be great!" she admitted.
Jodie Willett finished in second, one minute behind O'Shea and ahead of Jo Wall in third. Will keeps her series lead by just two points.
Amiel Cavalier and Claire Whiteman won the elite men's and women's downhill events.
The next round, number four, of the Australian Mountain Bike National Series will be held at the end of January in Mt. Buller.