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Van der Ploeg takes short track in sprint finish

Paul Van der Ploeg and Rowena Fry prevailed on Sunday morning in the short track races at the final round of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series in Canberra.

Men's short track

In the men's short track earlier in the day, the field set off at a cracking pace with Dan McConnell, Ben Henderson and Paul Van der Ploeg leading the charge.

McConnell dropped off, and the battle between Henderson and Van der Ploeg began. The lead changed hands on a number of occasions, before Van der Ploeg got out of his saddle with three laps to go, setting a frenetic pace, with Henderson in hot pursuit.

Henderson once again got in front with just one lap to go, but the powerful legs of Van der Ploeg were just too strong in the sprint to the finish, and the 21-year-old held on to clinch a thrilling victory.

"I'm stocked with that win," said Van der Ploeg. "It was a really fun track today, with the jumps and berms and all the add-ons that make it a bit more exciting.

"Ben was really good today. It's a bit more exciting when you're out there with someone else.

"There was only one straight with a good passing opportunity. Ben snuck up on the climb in the very back section, and I thought I'd lost it, so I gave it everything I had on the last lap."

Today's win elevated Van der Ploeg to the top of the final series standings, to share the title with Dan McConnell. Van der Ploeg now heads over to Germany to join his Felt teammates, before launching his World Cup campaign in April.

Women's short track

Unlike the majority of the season, today's women's short track race was extremely tight. Rowena Fry dictated the pace for the first 10 minutes, with Rebecca Henderson and Katherine O'Shea right on her tail.

However with three laps to go, Fry hit the gas, and opened up a commanding lead which eventually led her to secure her third short track victory and take the series title.

In the battle for the silver medal, O'Shea overtook Henderson on the penultimate lap and crossed the line in second place.

"That was good fun," said Fry after the race. "It's the best short track course around. It has lots of jumps and a few different lines you can take. There was no point mucking around with three to go. It was good to open up the lungs a little bit."

"Bec was flying. She was doing really good work hanging onto my wheel. Kath has had a bit of injury trouble this season, and she's just coming good at the right time of the year, so it's good to see her up there too."


#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Paul Van der Ploeg
2Ben Henderson
3Dan McConnell

#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Rowena Fry
2Katherine O'Shea
3Rebecca Henderson

Men final series standings
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1. Paul Van der Ploeg235
1. Dan McConnell235
2. Ben Henderson192
3. Lachlan Norris181

Women final series standings
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1. Rowena Fry305
2. Katherine O’Shea199
3. Rebecca Henderson130

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