World and Australian 24-Hour Solo Mountain Bike Champion Jason English and Australian Champion Liz Smith won the solo categories of the Scott Australian 24-Hour Mountain Bike Championships this weekend at Stromlo Forest Park in the Australian Capital Territory.
Riders raced laps of the challenging Stromlo Forest Park trails as solos or as relay teams of up to 10 riders, starting at Midday Saturday and riding throughout the night and finishing at Midday on Sunday.
In the men's race, English was victorious for the fourth time and competed against one of the strongest fields ever assembled. Riders included 2011 UK and European Champion Matt Page (Wales) and Canadian National Champion Cory Wallace. Both riders featured in the battle throughout the race, with Page finishing second and Wallace in fourth behind Australian Andrew Hall in third place.
In the sport of endurance mountain bike racing, English is without peer, undefeated in the 24-hour discipline since 2008, a period containing over 20 wins in the discipline.
English reflected on the quality of the field "after a cancelled overseas event, Page and Wallace arrived trained and fit, and the local guys are getting faster and faster too - I knew it was going to be a tough race from the gun."
After having mechanical issues early, English moved up to first late on Saturday evening, and then in his trademark fashion, accelerated away from the field at sunrise. He talked about why he is able to do this time and time again. "I think it's that early morning my normal training time - my body is simply ready to ride."
Looking to the future, English said "the national championships will be tough next year - all of us (Australians) will race the world championships here in October, so it will be sought-after to win the green and gold jersey at Easter and be able to wear it to the Worlds."
Matt Page, racing in Australia for the first time since his sixth place in the 2010 world championships, said, "I was disappointed in 2010 that I wasn't able to bring my best race. I'm happy with my second today - I've shown people what I can actually do."
English, Page and Wallace now head to the Crocodile Trophy, a nine-day mountain bike stage race in a week's time.
In the women's event, the raining Australian Champion Liz Smith won the race for the first time, and is undefeated in the discipline in 2012. She said, "It was a tough race. The conditions made it a little bit tougher, the mud and the rain, but it's a great track to race on." Smith is focused on 2013. "I'm happy to win, and it's great preparation for the World's here next year."
Peta Mullens, recent winner of the Tour de Timor, held the lead for the first half of the race but withdrew in the early hours of Sunday. Second place went to Phillipa Rostan, and third place went to Kate Penglase).
In the relay teams competition, team "Gu On the Go", racing in the teams of six men category took out the overall honours completing 36 laps of the challenging course. Team member and 2004 Olympian Sid Taberlay said, "It was harder this year with the rain. The course became challenging with some holes that caught people off-guard, and those sections were also leg energy-sapping". He was happy with the win, "We've won this event before - and as always we've secured the win with a good team effort from all involved."
2012 is the 14th time the Canberra Off-Road Cyclists (CORC) have staged the Scott Australian 24-Hour Mountain Bike Championships. CORC President Sarah O'Callaghan was ecstatic with the ongoing success of the event "The Scott 24-Hour continues to be the largest club-run event in Australia, and we couldn't be happier with almost 2,000 riders again enjoying the Stromlo Forest Park trails".
With large celebrations planned for the 15th Anniversary of the event in 2013, the event also coincides with both the 25th Anniversary of the club and the 100th Anniversary of the ACT. In addition to the Scott 24-Hour teams event in 2013, CORC will also be hosting the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation (WEMBO) Solo 24-Hour Championships with the support the ACT government.
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