Two countries down under each hosted their final round of their national series this past weekend.
On the east side of the Tasmania, Marcus Roy, a student at Otago University when not racing, handily wrapped up his series' cross country title after winning the fifth and final round in Wellington. The final race was not only valuable for determining the series champions but for the elite men and women competitors it was also offered valuable UCI points and prize money.
USA-based Kiwi Jenny Smith won the elite women's cross country race, meaning she takes maximum UCI points as she prepares for her North American campaign starting next month. This was Smith's only national series race, which left the consistent Fiona MacDermid with the national series women's title.
Wanganui's Sam Blenkinsop won the elite men's downhill NZCT mountain bike national series, by taking the fifth and final round by just under three seconds over junior world champion Cameron Cole. Meanwhile Jenna Makgill won the elite women's race by nearly five seconds over Scarlett Hagen, but it was too little too late for Makgill as Hagen's second place was enough to give the former junior world champion the women's 2007 NZCT series title.
Meanwhile to the west, Tasmania's Sid Taberlay proved he was one of Australia's best cross country bike riders by winning the fourth and final round of the National Series in Mt Beauty. The 27 year-old Athens Olympian was one point away from the series lead occupied by Sydney rider Aiden Lefmann heading into the round but his win was enough to claim the series title. Sydney Olympian Paul Rowney proved his class by taking second place and even giving Taberlay a challenge in the downhill sections of the course.
Recently crowned Australian champion Tory Thomas came out on top in the women's cross country race and the overall title, thereby backing up her National Marathon win in September last year. Thomas reeled in early leader Niki Fisher to win by one and a half minutes.
Amiel Cavalier ended a stellar season by winning the fourth and final round of the Australian downhill series, also at MT Beauty. The Wollongong rider's time was a full two seconds quicker than local rider Liam Panozzo, who took second place. It was only Cavalier's first year competing at the elite level. "I was a bit nervous at the start," he admitted, "but I just went faster than I wanted to and it paid off at the end."
Newcastle's Emma McNaughton blitzed the women's downhill field to finish in a respectable 4.05.47. Canberra's Claire Whiteman claimed second place from Sydney's former downhill champion Joanne Fox who finished third. McNaughton had crashed in the first run and hurt her sternum but recovered well to finish the season on a strong note. "It's so good now to have six or more women," she said. "We get to races thinking 'now who's going to win today?'"
Her second place finished was enough to tie up the National Series title for Whiteman for the second consecutive year. Canberra's Caroline Buchanan claimed second overall in the series while Joanne Fox takes third place.
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