Current national series leader Chris Jongewaard survived a flat tyre and a rider protest to win his fifth national cross country championship at the 2011 Australian Mountain Bike Championships in Adelaide on Friday.
And in the elite women's event, a surprise upset saw an emotional Katherine O'Shea take a huge step up to claim her first national title.
Off to a flying start, Jongewaard posted a 30-second lead on the rest of the field after just one lap, doubling his lead by the second. He hit trouble on the next lap with the 32-year-old suffering a flat tyre which pushed him back to third in the field.
After a similar mishap at the Mt Buller national series event earlier this month, Jongewaard showed his dominance of Australian cross country racing, recovering for the second time this season to take out the event in one hour, 43 minutes and 20 seconds.
In a second hiccup for the hometown hero, Jongewaard faced a rider protest at the conclusion of the event after a clash with eighth placed Ben Henderson from Canberra on the first lap.
UCI commissaries upheld the protest, hitting Jongewaard with a fine and 30-second penalty to take the South Australian to an official time of 1:43:50, but it was not enough to relegate him from the gold medal position. Victoria's Lachlan Norris (1:44:01) finished 10 seconds behind Jongewaard after the time penalty whilst Queensland's Aiden Lefmann (1:48:59) rounded up the minor placings.
After a turbulent two years, Jongewaard was pleased to be back in the Australian champion jersey just two months after his return to elite mountain bike competition.
"It hasn't quite sunk in. Honestly, I thought there was one more lap," a surprised Jongewaard said.
"It was pretty hot out there today and things went wrong. My rear tyre went flat, and I had some problems at the start and I just tried to block it out.
"Having a year off in the prime of your career is never a good thing for any athlete but it's how you deal with the situation and try to make it a positive return.
"For me, I owe it to a lot of people who have got me through the tough times. I owe this race and my career to them. It's been a pretty rocky road but I am enjoying my return and enjoying the sport so hopefully it's not too late to salvage something."
In other results, Paul Van Der Ploeg (1:34:34) took out the men's under 23 race.
The 2011 Australian Mountain Bike Championships will wrap up on Saturday with the cross country short track and downhill competitions. Cross country champion Chris Jongewaard will return to the track for the men's short track whilst Tasmanian Rowena Fry will also return in the women's event. Queensland's Michael Hannah will start as the fastest qualifier for the elite men's downhill whilst world under 19 champion Troy Brosnan has some work to do after seeding third behind fellow South Australian Connor Fearon. West Australian Holly Baarspul is the fastest Australian qualifier in the elite women's event, behind Canadian Clare Buchar.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|4||Andrew Blair (Swell Redshift MTB Team)||0:06:02|
|7||Scott Liston (Search2Retain - Felt)||0:08:16|
|8||Ben Henderson (Torq/Anytime Fitness)||0:08:55|
|10||Garry Millburn (Cannondale)||0:11:36|
|11||Nick Both (Swell-Redshift Racing)||0:12:14|
|-1lap||Neil Van Der Ploeg (Search2Retain - Felt)|
|-2laps||Glenn Stewart (Cannondale)|
|-2laps||Sid Taberlay (Kenda / H20 Overdrive)|
|-2laps||Cal Britten (Search2Retain - Felt)|
|-2laps||Nicholas Morgan (Ride Bellerive)|
|-3laps||Jack Lamshed (Search2Retain)|
|-3laps||John Groves (Apollo Bikes )|
|-4laps||Matthew Fleming (Clarence St Cyclery)|
|DNF||Ben Mather (Rapid Cycling)|
|DNF||Joshua Carlson (Rockstar Racing)|
|DNS||Andrew Fellows (AYup lights)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Paul Van Der Ploeg (Felt Bicycles)||1:34:35|
|2||Luke Fetch (Search2Retain - Felt)||0:00:20|
|3||Trenton Day (Scott Bikes)||0:02:31|
|4||Charlton Durie (Phantom Cycles)||0:03:42|
|5||Kyle Ward (Avanti Bike's)||0:04:28|
|-1lap||Lewis Rattray (St Kilda Cycles)|
|-3laps||Mitchell Codner (Rotor / FRS Magura)|