Rando dual leader in Aussie downhill Nats

By Sharon Payne

Jared Rando dominates two mountain bike disciplines in Australia now after winning the Iron Horse Downhill at Thredbo December 18th. Rando had a dream run on the 4.3km Cannonball Run to finish comfortably ahead of Liam Panozzo and Justin Havukainen in third. With temperatures of 2.5 degrees at the start line, Rando let nothing stand in his way with the quickest run of the day in 6:14.08.

The win gives Rando his first for the weekend after crashing in the semi-final of the mountain cross on Friday night. He still maintains his lead in that series. Coming into the downhill event, Rando was second on the points, but after today's win he takes over the lead from World Silver Medallist, Sam Hill from Western Australia.

Rando was closely watched by Jared Graves, the winner of the last two events at Thredbo. Graves, the World silver medallist in Mountain Cross also lined up in the downhill and turned in the best qualifying run of 6.19.22. However, Graves crashed mid way down in the final run, costing him precious seconds.

Adding to the excitement, snow started to fall at the top of the run just as the finals were beginning, with the chill factor an extra challenge for riders used to warmer climates. According to Graves it was the snow and rain affected track that caused his stack.

"I was having a really good run and just tried a little too hard in the middle section and it's all sort of greasy in there from the rain we've had in the last couple of days. Pretty well I hit a root, and before I knew it my back wheel was in front of my front wheel and I was heading back up the side of the hill into the bushes."

Rando however said the track was in great condition despite the snow. "It didn't really effect it, actually it was really grippy and almost perfect for racing on. It was just like hero traction."

In the qualifying run the previous day's rainfall took its toll and times were slower than expected. Graves qualified fastest with Rando just off the pace and Bryn Atkinson third fastest of the day. Sickness struck Atkinson, ruling him out of the final run which left the door open for Liam Panozzo, who had the most improved time of the day.

The downhill comp takes place on the legendary 4.2km Cannonball Run, which is packed full of jumps, berms and turns, and it seems, even the odd real-life cannonball!

Sydney rider Rohan Gearing was the unfortunate victim of a rogue boulder...

"I was just at the start gate ready to race, and unfortunately, just as the clock was about to let me go, a rock rolled down the side of the hill and just bowled me over," he explained. "It just damaged the gear mechanism at the back there, the rock sort of smashed it, yeah I've just got to fix it up and make it go so I can race again.

Officials allowed Gearing to ride the final run and he managed 23rd position.

For complete results, click here.

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