McConnell and Hanlen win Oceania cross country championships

Gaze and Johnston earn U23 titles

Australia's Dan McConnell and New Zealand's Karen Hanlen successfully defended their respective cross country titles at the the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships, held on the slopes of Mt Hutt.

The prestige of winning Oceania titles is accompanied by valuable UCI qualifying points that will put riders in good standing for upcoming World Cups. It's also an important opportunity for selectors to gauge the performance of New Zealand riders in the lead up to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Men

New Zealand's Anton Cooper achieved an early lead in the race, but McConnell gained precious seconds over successive laps, before pulling ahead and stretching the gap out to 30 seconds.

Cooper was unable to close the gap, and McConnell stretched his lead out to over two minutes in the final lap, winning his fourth Oceania title. Dirk Peters (New Zealand) came in third.

Having won the Australian National Championships just last weekend, McConnell will now join fellow Trek Factory teammates in California for a training camp before heading to South Africa for the first round of the World Cup.

"It was good as. It was always going to be a pretty hard race because of Anton." McConnell said, "Quite a few fast guys came over from Australia as well, so to have another strong race, I'm pretty happy with that. Two good wins in two weeks."

"Obviously Anton's Anton, really fast, and rides really aggressive - when he took off at the start I didn't really have a response. I was able to just settle in, I just tried minimise the damage, and not let him get too far."

"Then through the middle part of the race I got a few good laps together and was able to get a good gap, so yeah, that was good."

Cooper, who is building for a big season in Europe with his eye on the world championships and the Commonwealth Games, took the race outcome in his stride.

"My first half (of the race) was perfect, then Dan came past on the flatter half of the course, just flying, so I couldn't follow his wheel really," said Cooper, "and after that I just suffered for the rest of the race."

"Bloody happy with second really, it's a decent amount of points, and second in elite in Oceanias is pretty cool, especially behind Dan, he's performed so well the last few World Cup stages. Such a classy rider, so I'm pretty happy with that."

Sam Gaze (New Zealand) dominated in the under 23 race, building on recent success at the National Championships.

"I had mixed feelings coming into this race." said Gaze, "I had a good couple of weeks prep leading up to it, rode really well last week at Motatapu. Woke up this morning with a bit of a spewy feeling but didn't let it bother me, and I had a successful ride."

Completing the podium for the under 23s were Australia's current National Champ Cameron Ivory, and Michael Crosbie, who also earned third at last week's Australian National Champs.

The under 19s result was a mirror image of the recent third round of the Australian Mountain Bike Series, with New Zealand U19 champion Ben Oliver taking first place, David Ashby-Coventry second, and Australia's Reece Tucknott third.

Women

In the elite women's race, Olympian Karen Hanlen clawed back on Kate Fluker and Rebecca Henderson's early lead to achieve a definitive victory.

Fluker and Henderson, the newly crowned New Zealand and Australian National Champions, were locked together for the first half of the race, before Olympian Henderson pulled away during the technical climb.

Henderson, who took the under 23 Oceania title last year, poured on the gas on to build a gap of just under a minute, with Fluker falling behind as she started to lose air in her rear tire.

Hanlen, who has been looking forward to this race after getting on top of her recently diagnosed asthma, cut Henderson's lead to just 30 seconds heading into the final lap, while Fluker, having lost all air in her rear tire, had to run her bike up the course, which put her out of contention.

In a thrilling last lap, Hanlen overtook Henderson and gunned her way to the finish to win with a 1:15 lead.

"It was a tough, tough course, heaps of fun and heaps of cheering, loved the support. Kate rode really well too." Hanlen said, "It's really pleasing (to win). This year I've been working on a lot of things and for it to come through, I'm really proud. I've got a neat support crew, family and coach."

"This year the start was a lot faster, the competition is definitely stronger, I definitely acknowledge that, and I was lucky to keep in a bit of sight of the lead too. I worked with Jenni King (of Australia) and it came together for me in the final lap."

"The (Commonwealth Games) is my big goal, but yeah, again, you've got to qualify, and you've got to earn it, I believe. I've still got to go overseas and prove it, but this is a good step for me. If I make Comm Games selection, I'll go into Europe and give it my all."

Henderson, who won the U23 Oceania title last year and is part of the Trek Factory team, is now looking forward to the start of the MTB World Cup.

"It was really tough. I sort of got away on the first half of the first lap, but then Kate closed me down in the second half of the lap." said Henderson. "The second half of the lap was a weakness for me, I don't really have that kind of horsepower, I'm good at steeper climbing."

"I ended up getting away by more than a minute in the middle of the race, and with two laps to go, Karen just came from nowhere and closed me down. I couldn't go with her when she went past me."

Australia's Jenni King rounded out the podium, with Kate Fluker unable to come back after her disappointing flat.

New Zealand's Amber Johnston won for the under 23 women, and New Zealand National Champion Harriet Beaven collected her second title for the year, dominating the under 19s.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Daniel McConnell (Australia)1:44:24 
2Anton Cooper (New Zealand)0:02:29 
3Dirk Peters (New Zealand)0:05:40 
4Carl Jones (New Zealand)0:07:50 
5Brenton Johnston (Australia)0:08:14 
6Andrew Blair (Australia)0:11:03 
7Shaun Lewis (Australia)0:13:28 
8Travis Frisby (Australia)  
9Adrian Retief (New Zealand)  
10Mark Tupalski (Australia)  
11Peter Lombard (Guam)  
Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Karen Hanlen (New Zealand)1:48:32 
2Rebecca Henderson (Australia)0:01:15 
3Jenni King (Australia)0:06:12 
4Tory Thomas (Australia)0:09:23 
5Ingrid Richter (New Zealand)0:11:26 
6Katherine O'neill (New Zealand)0:12:34 
7Rowena Fry (Australia)0:16:41 
8Kate Fluker (New Zealand)0:17:02 
9Karen Hill (Australia)0:18:34 
10Margaret Leyland (New Zealand)  
U23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Samuel Gaze (New Zealand)1:31:54 
2Cameron Ivory (Australia)0:01:55 
3Michael Crosbie (Australia)0:03:08 
4Kyle Ward (Australia)0:04:38 
5Ben Forbes (Australia)0:05:31 
6Craig Oliver (New Zealand)0:05:54 
7Scott Bowden (Australia)0:07:08 
8Christopher Aitken (Australia)0:09:35 
9Josh Parkin (New Zealand)0:09:49 
10Sebastian Jayne (Australia)0:12:15 
11Jack Lavis (Australia)0:14:21 
12Brett Stokman (New Zealand)  
13Elliot Pearce (New Zealand)  
14Harrison Ware (Australia)  
15Tristan Ward (Australia)  
16Mathew Waghorn (New Zealand)  
U23 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Amber Johnston (New Zealand)1:40:01 
2Holly Harris (Australia)0:01:48 
3Samantha Hope (New Zealand)0:20:47 
Junior men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ben Oliver (New Zealand)1:19:16 
2David Ashby-Coventry (New Zealand)0:00:49 
3Reece Tucknott (Australia)0:01:05 
4Cosmo Bloor (New Zealand)0:02:03 
5Gareth Cannon (New Zealand)0:03:14 
6Henry Jaine (New Zealand)0:04:01 
7Michael Potter (Australia)0:04:06 
8Nathan Johnston (New Zealand)0:04:23 
9Scott Barr (New Zealand)0:04:40 
10Guy Frail (Australia)0:04:53 
11Jack Compton (New Zealand)0:05:15 
12Felix Smalley (Australia)0:06:19 
13Mitchell Greenway (Australia)0:06:56 
14Callum Carson (Australia)0:07:23 
15Luke Brame (Australia)0:07:50 
16Harrison Mudgway (New Zealand)0:07:51 
17Aaron Carr (New Zealand)0:09:55 
18Ben Friel (New Zealand)0:10:14 
19Joshua Lee (New Zealand)0:11:51 
20Isaac Schuurman (New Zealand)0:12:38 
21Kim Wright (New Zealand)0:13:45 
22Kerry Cameron (New Zealand)0:16:05 
23Andrew Bamford (New Zealand)  
24Rainer Pye (New Zealand)  
25Jayson Binns (New Zealand)  
26Schellim Maccam (France)  
27Alex Beaven (New Zealand)  
Junior women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Harriet Beaven (New Zealand)1:17:54 
2Charlotte Rayner (New Zealand)0:06:35 
3Jemma Manchester (New Zealand)0:08:06 
4Shannon Hope (New Zealand)0:08:57 
5Lydia Kinsman (New Zealand)0:13:36 
6Brooke Hudson (New Zealand)0:15:12 
7Olivia Miller (New Zealand)0:25:02 

 

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