Dan McConnell and Jenni King backed up their Olympic-format cross country wins in Mt Buller with wins in round 3 at Stromlo Forest Park in the ACT. Both riders contested tough, exciting races on their way to the top of the podium.
The elite men started at a furious pace, with McConnell leading the pack out onto the fast, flowing course. The race quickly developed a lead group of four, with McConnell, Paul Van Der Ploeg, Sid Taberlay and Jongewaard putting a small gap between themselves and the field early in the race, and staying together for some time.
2008 Olympian McConnell was the first rider in the group to make a significant move on lap 5. This move would ultimately prove decisive, and not only give him the win but also served to separate the top four.
"I felt fairly strong early on. I was struggling a bit early on technically, but I put it together on the climb - I was able to open up a bit of a gap and then hold them off on the descent," said McConnell.
With Jongewaard back, today's field will likely be a mirror image of the field expected at the Australian national championships. "It's good to have everyone here who'll be at nationals, and to come home with the win is a positive sign," said McConnell.
Paul Van Der Ploeg, riding in only his second cross country race in the elite field is proving quickly that he belongs. Van Der Ploeg placed himself in the top four early and finished with an excellent second place. "It was another really good race. A bit more pack racing, at one point the front four of us were separated by only two seconds, so it was also very exciting."
When asked about how he felt to be mixing it up with some of our most well-known racers, van der Ploeg said, "I remember when I was in U15 or U17 watching Chris and Sid race race in (the national season in) Eildon, so it's really good to be up there with them and fighting it out for the podium."
Taberlay is almost the elder statesman of the elite field, and has been racing mountain bikes at a national level for 15 years. Third was a good result for Taberlay today given that he had to stop on course to rectify mechanical issues. "I guess I took a couple of laps to find a bit of a rhythm and get going. After closing the gap to the front three riders, I had a little bit of a mechanical issue that I had to stop to fix, and then I had to close the gap again."
In the elite women's race, Canberra local young gun Bec Hendseron blasted off the start to take a commanding lead for the first two laps. "I wanted to have a good strong start, to try riding off the front, I wanted to go out hard and put the pressure on the other girls."
Tragedy struck during lap two, with Henderson having the first of what would eventually be four tyre issues during the six-lap race. "I'm not sure, I must have been a bit rough through a couple of the rock sections on the longer descent. I changed the front tyre, and then the back went flat." Henderson would end up in a credible fourth despite spending much time stopped working on her bike.
Jenni King was second to Henderson for the first two laps, and rode on to the win after riding past a stationary Henderson during one of the mechanical issues. While dominant on paper, today felt tough to King, "I really struggled with that course actually, it's kind of a power course. I think Bec would have had a really good day, I was a bit lucky to get the win today."
The win is somewhat amazingly King's seventh win from the eight starts during this All Mountain Cup season. "It's good to see my form is pretty good two weeks out from the national championships".
Katherine O'Shea, the reigning national champion finished in second place. "Positions changed quite a bit, Jenni Fay and I had a really good battle - it was pretty much a sprint race every fire road, and it was a good track out there."
Fay came in third, and also talked of the to-and-fro battle with O'Shea. "It was pretty hard actually. I wasn't expecting such a fast race, it was so close with Katherine, we had quite a fun race."
In the under 23 men's category, Luke Fetch had a sprint-finish win by 0.4 of a second from Robbie Hucker, with Jack Haig in third place. In the women's under 23, Amy Austin had a confident win from Jacinta Aitken.
In the youngest of the international categories, the under 19 Male, Billy Sewell rode his way to a win by over a minute from Ben Bradley and Benjamin Forbes.
In the under 19 women's race, Holly Harris won from Emily Parkes by just under a second after a race-long battle culminating in a sprint finish. Local rider Kyna Millan finished in third place.
On Sunday, racers will compete in the final stage of round 3, with a 25km point-to-point race starting at 9:00 am.
|1||Daniel McConnell (Anytime Fitness-Shimano)||1:29:15|
|2||Paul Van Der Ploeg (Felt Otztal - X-bionic)||0:00:36|
|3||Sid Taberlay (Kenda - H20 Overdrive)||0:01:19|
|5||Andrew Blair (Swell Redshift MTB Team-Felt)||0:03:34|
|6||Joshua Carlson (Australian Giant Factory team - ftptraining.com)||0:04:14|
|7||Lachlan Norris (Giant Factory Off-Road Team - Drapac Professional)||0:04:18|
|8||Neil Van Der Ploeg||0:05:24|
|9||Adrian Jackson (Merida Flight Centre MTB Team)||0:07:21|
|10||Matthew Fleming (Rock star Racing - Giant)||0:08:00|
|11||Andrew Arthur (Endeavour Cycles)||0:09:10|
|12||Nick Both (Swell-Redshift Racing)||0:09:21|
|14||James Downing (Cannondale Australia)||0:10:15|
|15||Ben Hogarth (Giant Exact MTB Team)||0:10:52|
|16||Peter Kutschera (Apollo Bikes Bikes Direct)||0:11:45|
|17||Michael Vanos (MSC Bikes - Blackmans Bicycles)||0:12:17|
|22||Matt Ligtermoet (Rush Racing Specialized)||-3laps|
|23||Dylan Cooper (Trek Concepts.com.au - Fictive.com.au)||-5laps|
|DNF||Jarrod Moroni (Moronis Bikes Bendigo)|
|DNF||John Groves (Apollo Bikes)|
|DNS||Ondrej Slezak (Bernard Beer)|
|1||Jenni King (Torq Nutrition)||1:32:23|
|2||Katherine O'Shea (Torq Nutrition)||0:01:00|
|4||Rebecca Henderson (Anytime Fitness-Shimano)||0:03:41|
|6||Peta Mullens (Team Merida Moronis Bikes Bendigo)||0:05:31|
|10||Jaclyn Schapel (Giant Australia)||0:11:55|
|11||Rosemary Barnes (Swell-Redshift)||0:12:06|
|12||Nicola Hogan (Drift Bikes)||0:12:37|
|DNS||Niki Fisher (Giant)|
|1||Luke Fetch (Search2Retain - Felt)||1:19:27|
|4||Kyle Ward (Jet Racing - Specialized Bikes)||0:04:50|
|5||Sebastian Jayne (Bikeminded)||0:05:59|
|6||Nelson Tilley (Top Brand Cycles - Townsville)||0:08:00|
|8||James Hanus (Scott Australia - Mitcham Cycle Centre)||0:10:24|
|9||Alexander Meyland (MTBA Specialized EDP Team)||0:10:49|
|11||Trenton Day (Drift Bikes-Specialized)|
|1||Amy Austin (Stevens Bikes)||1:34:33|
|1||Billy Sewell (Torq MTB Team - Continental)||1:08:54|
|2||Ben Bradley (Specialized Bicycle Components - H2O)||0:01:27|
|3||Benjamin Forbes (Kenmore Cycles)||0:01:53|
|4||Ben Comfort (TLC Cycles - Geoff Comfort Photography)||0:02:26|
|7||Cameron Prosser (Anytime Fitness)||0:05:38|
|8||Jack Lavis (Batemans Bay Cycles)||0:05:54|
|9||Jason Lowndes (BCS Rising Sun)||0:06:27|
|10||Rodger Pogson-Manning (Ay Up - Silverback)||0:06:29|
|13||Peter McKellar Stewart||0:09:40|
|14||Christopher Aitken (Breakaway Cycles - ozriders.com.au)||0:10:57|
|DNS||Conor Bullard (Bilt Bikes)|
|3||Kyna Millan (TLC Cycles - MSL)||0:01:24|
|1||Hamish Prosser (Mal Adjusted - Apollo Bicycles)||0:59:31|
|2||Jayden Ward (Jet Racing - Specialized Bicycles)||0:00:49|
|3||Simon Harrington (Scott Bikes)||0:01:18|
|6||Mitchell Greenway (All Terrain Cycles)|
|7||Jack Jude (Cognition Bikes - Specialized)||0:02:27|
|DNF||Rong Min (Global Track Warehouse)|
|DNF||Dean Madden (Specialized - Bike Nirvana)|
|1||Zoe Binder (Crowne Plaza Canberra)||0:57:05|
|1||Griffin Layton-Scheld (OnyaBike - Belco & Civic)||0:54:14|
|5||Jackson Frew (Lennock Motors - Commencal)||0:07:07|
|1||Bradley Morton (ONYA Bike - Belconnen and Civic)||1:11:04|
|3||Michal Kafka (Bernard Riders)||0:05:32|
|5||Damien Enderby (Thule Team Australia - Cranks Bikestores)||0:06:31|
|6||James Collins (Trek - Bontrager)||0:06:52|
|4||Troy Fisher (Stevens Bikes)||0:03:39|
|5||Evan James (Giant Adelaide)||0:03:59|
|4||Mark Codner (FRS - Rotor BBK Bikes)||0:06:08|
|1||Michael Hogan (Bicycle Garage Lilyfield)||1:17:24|
|3||Marc De Geoffroy||0:03:09|
|3||Daniel Van Der Ploeg (Felt Bikes)||0:05:35|
|5||Tim Bardsley Smith||0:08:48|
|6||Jason Head (Project 63)||0:09:45|