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McConnell claws his way back to a victory

Beijing Olympian and Australian cross country champion Dan McConnell shrugged off a disappointing season to secure his first victory in the colours of the national jersey at the final round of the 2009-10 Australian MTB Series in Canberra today.

An emotional Rowena Fry comfortably won the women's race and attributed her victory and series title to a close friend and fellow rider who tragically passed away during the week. After three rounds of thrilling action, series came to its crescendo this weekend at Stromlo Forest Park, the home of the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

Elite and under 23 men's race

After pulling out of the last two rounds in Shepparton and Thredbo mid-race, an out-of-form Dan McConnell rode up to the start line as the underdog. But as his competitors knew, the Victorian was not to be written off.

The 25-year-old went out hard early, powering up "cardiac climb" and the renowned 225-metre hammerhead section, with series leader Lachlan Norris and local favourite Ben Henderson in hot pursuit.

However things nearly fell apart on lap three, when McConnell flew over the handlebars just before the famous hammerhead climb. Stopping to grab a new wheel in the feed zone, Norris and Henderson caught up and made the most of McConnell's misfortune, accelerating away.

A determined McConnell gave chase and regained his lead on the fourth lap, with Henderson pushing hard on his tail. By the fifth and final lap, McConnell had slightly extended his lead, opening up a 30-second gap to claim an emphatic victory.

"It's been a while. I came here today just hoping for a good ride and to finish the race but I've come away with the win," said McConnell.

"After nationals it was hard to get the motivation back. I just couldn't finish a race. It was disappointing to come off a nationals win and not be in the hunt. It bought me back down to earth pretty quickly. It probably took me a month to realise it was just one race and there was plenty to go in the season," said McConnell.

"The last three or four weeks I've got my act together. It's good to get the burden off my back and it's my first win in the national jersey. There's a fair few quick guys in Australia at the moment, and I guess you can't be too far off the ball if you want to race. Hopefully this is the start of a good year."

A fast-finishing Henderson rolled over in second position for the third time in the series.

In a thrilling fight for third, Andy Blair crossed the line just one tenth of a second in front of Joshua Carlson. Importantly the third place also moved Blair up to third position in the final series standings.

Unfortunately Lachlan Norris suffered a front wheel flat mid way through lap four which knocked him back to seventh place and out of contention for a podium finish.

However the 23-year-old did just enough to retain his series lead and confirm his position as the number-one rider in the series standings in his first year at senior level.

"It didn't go quite according to plan today," said Norris. "I didn't feel really good on the bike and technically I felt a bit off. You have good days and bad. I'm pretty happy with the season, it's my first series win as a senior, so hopefully I can kick on from here."

Victorian Paul Van Der Ploeg took out the under 23 men's win and series title.

Elite women's race

As was the case for the majority of the series, national champion Rowena Fry went out hard from the outset, leaving local young gun Rebecca Henderson and Heather Logie to battle it out for second.

Despite having to dodge kangaroos out on the course, Henderson had the early advantage, holding onto second position for the first two laps.

A woman on a mission, Logie closed the gap during lap three. Attacking on the fire road, Logie came up to Henderson's shoulder and pulled away to establish a generous 48-second break heading into the bell lap.

Meanwhile out in front, Fry completed the four laps of the 8.4km course unchallenged. Despite encountering some gear trouble on the final lap, Fry crossed the finish line in 1:47:19 to secure her third victory of the season and the series title.

Fighting back tears, the 28-year-old payed tribute to Will Robinson, her friend and riding partner who tragically passed away in a training accident last Saturday.

"I'm really happy to get the win and take the series. I lost a close friend during the week and it was good to win for him today," said Fry. "It's been a really emotional week, and I was really happy to be able to do this for him and his family."

"I just wanted to ride by myself with my own thoughts today. I was in a groove, and just let my body do what it does. It's been a good start to the season, and hopefully it will keep going well when I head overseas in April."

Despite entering the race with a shoulder injury after tumbling over her handlebars in training on Monday night, Logie crossed the finish line in second position for the third time this series, 94 seconds behind Fry.

Henderson rolled over in third place, enough to secure the under 23 series title.

In the women's under 17 race, Zoe Binder was too strong, taking the win ahead of Karuna Henderson and Kyna Millan from the ACT.

Donations to support the family of Will Robinson, can be made via the "Dave & Pennie Support Fund". Visit for further information.

Full Results

Elite men and Under 23 men*
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Daniel McConnell (Torq Team)1:53:03
2Ben Henderson (Crowne Plaza Canberra)0:00:32
3Andrew Blair (Redshift Racing)0:00:41
4Joshua Carlson (Giant Factory Team)0:00:42
5Paul Van Der Ploeg* (Felt Bicycles)0:02:32
6Aiden Lefmann (Cannondale)0:03:22
7Lachlan Norris0:04:47
8Peter Hatton0:06:20
9Na Sanghoon0:07:20
10David Johnston*0:08:20
11Brenton Jones*0:08:25
12Tim Wynan (Kempsey Macleay Off Road Cyclists)0:09:04
13Steele Von Hoff0:11:17
14Aaron Benson* (Cannondale, For The Riders)0:11:52
15Cal Britten*0:12:53
16Peter Kutschera (Apollo Bikes)0:13:11
17Glenn Stewart*0:14:18
18Garry Millburn (City Bike Depot)0:19:59
19James Peacock* (Merida Flight Centre)0:20:00
20John Groves (Apollo Bikes)0:27:24
-1lapMatthew Rizzuto
DNFAdrian Jackson (Merida Flight Centre MTB Team)
DNFJoseph Lewis
DNFLuke Fetch*
DNSNick Both
DNSMark Tupalski*
DNSAlexander Pung*
DNSMarc Williams (Suzuki - Rideshop)
DNSDarren Smith
DNSJohn Blankenstein
DNSRobbie Hucker*
DNSJack Lamshed
DNSJames Devonshire

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rowena Fry (AIS TID Free Membership 1 yr)1:47:19
2Heather Logie0:01:34
3Rebecca Henderson* (Crowne Plaza Canberra)0:03:55
4Joanna Wall (AIS TID Free Membership 1 year)0:08:39
5Peta Mullens* (Apollo Bicycles)0:09:34
6Niki Fisher0:12:36
7Therese Rhodes*0:14:39
8Katherine O'Shea (Torq Nutrition)0:15:13
9Jaclyn Schapel0:22:11
10Sarah Holmes* (Over The Edge Sports Melrose)0:26:17
DNFStacey Birch
DNFShelly Flood*
DNSJenni King (Torq Australia Croydon Cycleworks)
DNSKelly Bartlett
DNSTrudy Nicholas
DNSJenny Fay

Under 19 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mitchell Codner1:34:00
2Cameron Ivory (Swell-Redshift)0:01:42
3Trenton Day0:01:54
4Kyle Ward (Spearman Cycles, ZannoX Cyling Apparel.)0:02:02
5Ryan Standish0:03:51
6Ryan Macanally (River City Cycles)0:09:05
7Daniel McDonald0:10:19
8Casper Oxlee0:11:05
9Michael Crosbie0:11:21
10James Hanus0:11:35
11Alexander Meyland (Rock and Road Cycles, Giant Bicycles Australia)0:13:37
12Sebastian Jayne0:18:18
13Jake Whitton0:20:03
14Mitchell Vanetie0:20:04
15Kurt Winfield0:20:52
16Bradley Rose0:21:05
17Michael Baker0:23:34
18Jarryd Jones0:24:24
19Miles Waring0:29:23
-1lapLaurent Groom
-1lapMatthew Smith
DNFAlistair Crameri
DNFAlex Wagner (Blackman/Scott)

Under 17 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christopher Aitken1:15:21
2Billy Sewell0:02:02
3Ben Comfort0:06:10
4Jack Lavis (Batemans Bay Cycles Batemans Bay Apex)0:07:40
5Jacob Langham0:07:45
6Kell Bowden0:08:30
7McKenzie Obrien0:13:11
8Toby Stewart0:15:32
9Isaac Whitton0:19:13
10James Ross (Cycle City)0:22:17
11James Wagner0:22:19
12Henry Baird0:24:23
13Jordan Butler0:34:31
DNFThomas Phillips
DNSHamish Prosser (Mal Adjusted; Apollo Bicycles)
DNSSam Ewing

Under 17 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zoe Binder (Scott, TWE, Berry Mountain Cycles)1:10:30
2Karuna Henderson0:02:06
3Kyna Millan (TLC cycles)0:03:39
4Katrina Rose0:05:42
5Ella Scanlan-Bloor0:09:06

Veteran men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1James Downing (Lonsdale St Cyclery Canberra)1:13:14
2James Collins0:09:38
3Wesley Samson (West End Cycles)0:24:24
DNFSimon Blake
DNFDan Isaacs
DNSJames Boland
DNSAnthony Shippard
DNSChristopher Herron (Clarence St. Cyclery, Trek Australia)

Veteran women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Philippa Rostan1:40:04

Master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Evan James (Bicycle Express Adelaide)1:21:19
2Paul Burbidge-smith0:00:04
3Peter Kreilis0:05:41
4David Tuckerman0:08:43
DNSAdam Herbst (Bike Culture)

Super Master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Henderson1:22:58
2Craig Peacock0:05:46
3Doug Rose0:15:19
4Geoff Lovie0:21:22
5Phillip Hopkins0:25:41

Super master women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bev Anderson-tranter (Austranter Medical Sport)1:08:24
2Peggy Douglass (Bike Shed Braddon)0:07:03


Elite men final series standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lachlan Norris241pts
2Ben Henderson228
3Andrew Blair165

Elite women final series standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rowena Fry295pts
2Heather Logie243
3Joanna Wall176

Under 23 Men final series standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Paul Van Der Ploeg141pts
2Aaron Benson64
3Cal Britten59

Under 23 Women final series standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rebecca Henderson196pts
2Therese Rhodes125
3Sarah Holmes117

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