BMX Olympian Luke Madill reaffirmed his position as one of Australia's leading four cross riders after winning the first two rounds of the Red Ass National Series in Sydney over the weekend. The 28 year-old raced BMX at the sport's Olympic Games debut in Beijing, China, in August and is looking to compete in many of the 4X World Cup events next season.
Reigning national champion, Caroline Buchanan, was in top form to win the first two women's rounds and gained the series lead. Celebrating her 18th birthday next weekend did not deter the World Cup winner from Canberra in displaying strong first straights in every race.
In the first national round on Saturday, Madill won over last season's overall winner Leigh Darrell. In the second national round on Sunday, the win was hotly contested with 21 year-old Thomas Hubert from Newcastle clearly hot on the heels of Madill from the start. Madill led at the gate only to slip just before the third corner.
"The final was a bit messy," admitted Madill of Sunday's race. "I felt pretty safe and knew I had a good lead then I slid and clipped out. I had to go to the outside and that took a bit more time."
In the women's race, Sarsha Huntington from Brisbane ended up second in the series after an unlucky fourth place in the first round on Saturday.
The third round of the four cross series will be held on the Gold Coast at the end of November while the first round of downhill and cross country series will be in Adelaide in two weeks' time.
New faces hop onto Copa Chile Jeep podiums
The third round of the Copa Chile Jeep 2008 series was held at Cajón del Maipo last weekend. The category one UCI event was one of just three such categorized races in South America. Javier Püschel proved triumphant in the men's cross country over established favorite Cristóbal Silva, and Juan Cartoni was the surprise winner of the downhill. For the women, Francisca Campos and Verónica Miranda proved victorious in the cross country and downhill.
The cross country circuit featured technical climbs and descents. In the men's race, Püschel (Scott) brought an end to the supremacy of the Pan-American champion Silva (Cannondale), beating him by more than two minutes.
"This victory was the morale boost that I was missing," said Püschel. Silva appeared exhausted in the early laps, showing fatigue after so much racing in recent months.
In the women's cross country, Francisca Campos (Scott) proved why she's one of the best on the continent, after obtaining a solid first place finish more than five minutes ahead of her closest follower, Daniela Bunzli (Cannondale).
Downhill racers faced a steep and rough track. National champion Antonio Leiva, who suffered a broken femur in the last Copa Chile Jeep race, was, of course, still absent from competition. Juan Cartoni didn't let the opportunity pass and won a hard-fought final by only four seconds over Pedro Ferreira.
"This podium is the fruit of my consistency and proves that I am a candidate for the overall ranking," he said from the hot seat.
In the women's downhill, Verónica Miranda proved her bike handling skills and secured the win as well as leadership of the overall rankings.
The next round will be held on November 8-9 in Concepción, Southern Chile.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Copa Chile Jeep round in Santiago.