McConnell masters men's cross country

Fry burns the competition

The Jayco Australian Mountain Bike (MTB) Series got underway in Glenorchy, Tasmania, with local favourite Rowena Fry taking the honours in the women's cross country race and Beijing Olympian Daniel McConnell winning the men's event. After a difficult couple of weeks, due to funding cuts to the high performance mountain bike program, Fry was just relieved to be able to let her legs do the talking.

"I'm just happy to be out racing in the Australian summer, and it's good to get the season underway again especially after all the publicity that's been about elite mountain biking [funding cuts]," the Australian mountain bike champion said. "It's good to come out and show that we're still kicking on and still going well."

Fry took control of the race right from the start with a commanding performance that showed her to be a class above the rest of Australia's elite women despite claiming she didn't have great legs on the main climb of the course.

"I don't think anyone's legs would feel good on that climb, but I managed to get up it for five laps so I'm happy with that," Fry said. "It was a bit comical at the start because I wanted to sit behind someone but everyone else had the same idea.

"As no one wanted to take the lead, I got forced onto the front and was trying to ride off some other girls and put the foot down with three laps to go," she said.

The minor placings were taken by Heather Logie from Canberra in second position at one minute and 27 seconds behind Fry, with Victoria's Jenni King in third place a further one minute and 24 seconds back. The first under-23 finisher was Rebecca Henderson, who went across the line in fourth position overall. After finishing eighth in the Under 19 category at the 2009 World Championships, it was Henderson's first official race out of the junior ranks and she confirmed she is a likely challenger to Fry in the near future.

In the men's race, the win didn't come quiet as easily for McConnell, but in the end he demonstrated why he started the race as the one to beat.

"I held back for the first few laps as I didn't really know how the other guys were going. I got about half way and decided to make a move. I got a bit of a gap and got out of sight and that's all I needed," McConnell said. "It's good just to come out with a win. I'm rapt."

The opening round of the series gave a chance for the 24-year-old Victorian to measure his early season form. "It's one thing to train but when you go out with 30 of Australia's best riders, it makes you think there's always room for improvement," McConnell said.

"I was just going into today's race to see how the form is and see what I need to work on over the next month or two,” he added. "The signs today were pretty good. So now I'm looking forward to the rest of the year."

There were also plenty of positive signs for Adrian Jackson, who finished in second place, one minute and 31 seconds behind the winner. Jackson finished second overall in the Australian national series last season and was sitting in third place for the majority of the day, but finished strongly with his consistent riding style

Tasmania continued its good run of results on home turf with Ben Mather finishing third.

In the men's Under 23 category a jubilant Paul van der Ploeg went out the winner with a victory salute reminiscent of an Arnold Schwarzenegger pose in his bodybuilding hey-day.

"I was just having a bit of fun and had been working on that one for a little bit," van der Ploeg said of his celebration across the finish line. "I'll race all the national series, have fun with that and try and get serious for the World Cup races when I head over to Europe in March for all the big ones."

The downhill, enduro and short course cross country races will be contested tomorrow.

Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Daniel McConnell2:05:11 
2Adrian Jackson (Merida Flight Centre MTB Team)0:01:31 
3Ben Mather0:02:17 
4Lachlan Norris0:03:04 
5Dylan Cooper (TREK Concepts.com.au Fictive.com.au)0:03:13 
6Ben Henderson0:04:15 
7Andrew Blair (Redshift Racing, KOM, SRAM)0:04:31 
8Joshua Carlson (Spearman cycles, Giant, FRS health drinks)0:04:46 
9Aiden Lefmann (Cannondale)0:07:53 
10Steele Von Hoff0:08:35 
11Shaun Lewis0:12:15 
12Nick Both0:13:25 
13Jeremy Ross0:14:23 
14Tim Wynan0:18:24 
15Peter Kutschera0:19:52 
16John Groves (Apollo Bikes)0:19:52 
17James Kennedy0:19:54 
18Neil Van Der Ploeg (Felt / SRAM Enduro Team)0:19:55 
-1lapNicholas Morgan  
-1lapGarry Millburn  
-2lapsClarke Petrick  
-3lapsAndrew Burford  
-3lapsJulien Wicks  
DNFSean Hurley  
DNFNick Menager (OnyaBike Belconnen & Civic Maxxis Bikecorp Giant)  
Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rowena Fry1:49:15 
2Heather Logie0:01:27 
3Jenni King (Torq Australia Croydon Cycleworks)0:03:51 
4Niki Fisher0:06:15 
5Katherine O'Shea0:09:30 
6Kelly Bartlett0:09:51 
7Rosemary Barnes (Redshift Racing)0:11:06 
8Jody Bush (Srung)0:13:22 
9Anna Beck0:14:12 
10Helen Wray0:19:29 
11Jo Williams (Trailmix)0:20:19 
-1lapMelinda Jackson  
Under 23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Paul Van Der Ploeg (Felt Bicycles, SRAM Components, Rocky Valley Bike Shop)2:08:20 
2Luke Fetch0:03:45 
3Aaron Benson (Cannondale, For The Riders, Ardenvale Homes)0:06:52 
4Travis Frisby0:12:53 
5Merlin Spranz (B.-d. Farm Paris Creek Bio-Mechanics)0:17:54 
6Brenton Jones0:19:38 
-2lapsGlenn Stewart  
-4lapsTom Scott  
DNFPaul Weymouth (Torq Australia)  
Under 23 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rebecca Henderson1:54:27 
2Therese Rhodes0:02:20 
3Sarah Holmes (Over The Edge Sports Melrose / Ibis Cycles / Ergon)0:02:21 
Veteran women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrea Heron1:24:04 
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