Norris and Fry too strong in Thredbo

Riders battle muddy conditions in Australia's alpine region

Torrential rain and glorious mud might have stopped many in their tracks, but it hardly hindered cross country riders Lachlan Norris and Rowena Fry, who put on an impressive display today at the third round of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series in Thredbo.

Whilst Australia's winter Olympians were reveling at the Opening Ceremony in Vancouver, the nation's best mountain bike prospects for London 2012 were putting on a show of their own at Thredbo's alpine playground.

Norris arrived in Thredbo in strong form, having recently returned from New Zealand where he won the king of the mountain title on the road in the Tour of Wellington. As expected, the 23-year-old went out like an express train on the opening lap establishing an early lead, with Ben Henderson, Aiden Lefmann and Paul Van Der Ploeg all in hot pursuit.

"I felt good at the start and got to the front. I noticed I had a gap and just kept the throttle on for the first couple of laps," said Norris.

The tough conditions started to take their toll on all of the riders, and as the conditions deteriorated throughout the five-lap race, so did the times.

Heading into lap three, Norris continued to hold on to his lead, but Henderson decided to make an attack, gaining another minute to move up into a position just behind the Victorian.

"Later on in the race I was just trying to maintain that lead. It was difficult trying to stay focused in the mud, it was quite difficult technically and I was getting really tired," said Norris

"I think you always have this feeling that they're just on your hammer. I was struggling but I knew that it was just as hard for them as it was for me."

Henderson was a man on a mission on the penultimate lap but then misfortune struck as the Canberra rider sustained a puncture at the crucial point in the race.

At the final bell, Norris looked to have the victory sewn up, but the 23-year-old started to struggle when cramp set in, forcing him off his bike to walk up the technical climbs.

A quick wheel change and Henderson was back in contention, but it wasn't enough, Norris managing to hold off the late challenge by the fast finishing Henderson to notch up his second win of the series.

Van der Ploeg, who had mechanical trouble at the start of the race, put his foot on the gas on lap four, clawing his way back to cross the line in third position and take out the under 23 category.

After a strong race, Lefmann had absolutely nothing left in the tank as he crossed the finish line in fourth place (third in open elite men).

Things didn't go according to plan for national champion Dan McConnell. Struggling to find his rhythm in the trying conditions, McConnell left the track in the middle of lap two, recording his second DNF of the series.

Norris will now turn his attention back to the road, joining his Drapac Porche teammates at Le Tour de Langkawi in a fortnight, before resuming his challenge for the series title in Canberra.

Fry flies to victory

After taking out Tasmania's premier mountain bike stage race, the Wildside 2010, two weeks ago, Canberra's Heather Logie was tipped as the strongest contender to dethrone Tasmania's Rowena Fry in the women's event.

However on this occasion Fry was just too strong. Leading from the outset, the national champion stormed home to secure her second victory of the series by nearly a two-minute margin, relegating Logie to second place for the third time this season. Victorian Joanna Wall, who won in Shepparton three weeks ago, finished third.

"I really wanted to win this weekend," said Fry. "I've just got a new bike sponsor, Avanti, and I wanted to get off to a good start with them and show them that their faith in me was worthy."

As it did for all riders, Fry had her own challenges in the wet and muddy conditions. "It ended up being quite grippy out there on the flats, you could trust the mud but it was just the climbs. The singletrack climb out the back was pretty tricky, I could ride it the first two laps but after that I was just running it."

Fry was full of praise for her rival Logie, who only made the switch from adventure racing to mountain biking late last year. "Heather is riding the house down, it's fantastic," Fry said. "She's pushing me and she really worked me over at Wildside. She's very, very powerful for a small girl. Once she gets her skills up she's going to be a top rider, which is very promising for Australian mountain biking."

Fry will now put in some solid training hours back home in Launceston, before making her final assault for the series title in Stromlo, Canberra, in a month's time.

In the under 23's, Canberra's Rebecca Henderson rode an impressive race to hold off Victorian Peta Mullens and South Australia's Sarah Holmes to take the series points.

Racing in round three of the Australian Mountain Bike Series concludes in Thredbo tomorrow, with the enduro being contested in the morning followed by the short course cross country and downhill in the afternoon.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lachlan Norris (Drapac Porsche Cycling Team)2:18:41 
2Ben Henderson (Crowne Plaza Canberra)0:00:25 
3Paul Van Der Ploeg*0:01:16 
4Aiden Lefmann (Cannondale)0:02:22 
5Cal Britten*0:04:22 
6Andrew Blair (Redshift Racing)0:06:19 
7Joshua Carlson0:07:39 
8Aaron Benson* (Cannondale, For The Riders)0:08:08 
9Adrian Jackson (Merida Flight Centre MTB Team)0:09:20 
10Daniel Braunsteins*0:10:18 
11Jeremy Ross0:14:12 
12Peter Kutschera (Apollo Bikes)0:20:55 
13Tim Wynan (Kempsey Macleay Off Road Cyclists)0:21:12 
14James Peacock* (Merida Flight Centre)0:23:17 
15Travis Frisby*0:24:11 
16Mark Tupalski*0:24:35 
17Matthew Rizzuto0:28:35 
18Garry Millburn (City Bike Depot)0:30:31 
19John Groves (Apollo Bikes)0:35:12 
20Joseph Lewis* (Drapac-Porsche cycling team )0:37:46 
21James Devonshire0:43:31 
-1lapMerlin Spranz* (B.-d. Farm Paris Creek)  
-1lapSteele Von Hoff  
-4lapsNick Both  
DNFDaniel McConnell  
DNFJarrod Moroni  
DNSAndrew Adams*  
DSQLuke Fetch*  
DSQRobbie Hucker*  
Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rowena Fry (AIS TID )1:59:18 
2Heather Logie0:01:50 
3Rebecca Henderson*0:06:39 
4Joanna Wall (AIS TID)0:07:03 
5Katherine O'Shea (Torq Nutrition)0:11:28 
6Peta Mullens* (Apollo Bicycles)0:13:33 
7Jenni King (Torq Australia )0:15:58 
8Sarah Holmes* (Over The Edge Sports )0:16:35 
9Therese Rhodes*0:19:06 
10Stephanie Russell0:25:47 
11Claire Graydon (Mal Adjusted Bicycle )0:32:27 
12Jaclyn Schapel (JT Cycles : Giant)0:33:04 
13Shelly Flood*0:36:45 
DNFKelly Bartlett  
DNFTrudy Nicholas  
DNSMelinda Jackson  
DNSRosemary Barnes (Redshift Racing)  
DNSAnna Beck  
DNSKathryn Bicknell (Vaude, Merida Flight Centre)  
Under 19 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cameron Ivory1:32:02 
2Kyle Ward (Spearman Cycles)0:00:50 
3Mitchell Codner0:01:14 
4Trenton Day0:06:00 
5Michael Crosbie0:09:18 
6James Hanus (Lifecycle Bicycles)0:09:52 
7Tom Chaffey (Bike Minded)0:15:23 
8Tane Crosby0:17:17 
9Kurt Winfield0:20:07 
10Daniel McDonald0:23:16 
11Alex Wagner (Blackman/Scott)0:25:39 
12Jake Whitton0:26:40 
13Matt Smith (Merida Bikes )0:53:00 
14Bradley Rose0:55:38 
-1lapLaurent Groom  
DNFCasper Oxlee  
DNFJack Haig  
Under 17 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christopher Aitken1:03:12 
2Billy Sewell0:01:04 
3Jacob Langham0:06:25 
4Kell Bowden0:06:57 
5McKenzie O'Brien0:08:33 
6Jack Lavis (Batemans Bay Cycles )0:12:00 
7Ben Comfort0:15:00 
8Hamish Prosser0:16:48 
9James Wagner0:16:49 
10Isaac Whitton0:21:40 
11Rhys Flahive0:22:02 
12Joey Vejvoda0:28:11 
13James Ross (Cycle City)0:29:56 
14Jordan Butler0:35:42 
DNFToby Stewart  
DNFThomas Phillips  
Under 17 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zoe Binder1:23:08 
2Katrina Rose0:08:50 
3Kyna Millan (TLC cycles)0:21:11 
Master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Paul Burbidge-smith1:08:28 
2Peter Kreilis0:00:35 
3Evan James (Bicycle Express Adelaide)0:11:23 
4Rob Parbery0:27:55 
DNSScott Butler  
DNSBron Suchecki  
Super master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Henderson1:14:33 
2Craig Peacock0:01:34 
3Brett Butler (Supreme Cycles)0:05:51 
4Stephen Flood0:08:43 
5Doug Rose0:17:38 
6Phillip Hopkins0:19:52 
Super master women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peggy Douglass (Bike Shed Braddon)1:37:35 
Veteran men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Blankenstein1:42:39 
2James Collins0:11:57 
3Darren Smith0:12:29 
4Dan Isaacs0:23:37 
Veteran women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cristy Henderson1:53:19 
2Philippa Rostan0:00:19 
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