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Blair races to Australian series opener victory

Andrew Blair and Jenni King took victory in the opening round of the 2011-2012 MTBA National Series at Perth's Goat Farm on Saturday. Recent rain and temperatures in the mid 20s (degrees Celsius) made for perfect racing conditions.

In the men's elite event, Andrew Blair and Sid Taberlay fought continuously throughout the six-lap race. After a fast start, Athens Olympian Taberlay was leading the field as they entered the singletrack. By the end of the decisive first lap, a lead group formed containing Taberlay, Blair and Peter Hatton.

The trio continued to open up an advantage over Joshua Carlson, who was chasing alone in fourth. The technical nature of the Perth course took its toll on many rides, including Hatton, who failed to finish due to a mechanical incident.

With two laps remaining, Blair opened up a small advantage after Taberlay dropped a chain. Taberlay dug deep to close the gap, and the two leaders were together when they received the bell.

Early in the final lap, Blair opened up a gap at the top of the challenging and never looked back. With the overall classification in mind, he pushed all the way to the line taking victory in a time of 1:41:23. Taberlay came in second 1:26 later (1:42:49), third place was taken by Carlson (1:44:58). The first local rider to finish was Craig Cooke in sixth place.

Blair continued his good run of good form in Western Australia. Less than a month ago he took victory in the Cape to Cape Mountain Bike race in South West WA. Rather than travelling to the Northern Hemisphere to race World Cups over winter, Blair choose to stay in Australia, a prepare for national season skiing and racing cyclo-cross.

Blair made the initial selection, "Fortunately I made it into the front bunch without having to burn too many matches." Blair had Taberlay on his wheel for most of the race, "I had a voice in one ear saying he's going to stitch you up, he's going to stitch you up. In the other ear it was saying you can do it, you can put him away. It's definitely nerve wracking having a rider of Sid's caliber behind you. He is a smart racer and I couldn't believe it when I hit him on the last lap." After he consolidated the gap, "I wish I had a rear view mirror on my bike I was looking over my shoulder that much."

Elite women

In the first race of the day, the elite women tackled the challenging Goat Farm course, and with 210 meters of climbing each lap, the course would suit a strong climber. Jenny Fay started quickly leading the field into the singletrack. Early in the first lap Jenni King came to the front and never looked back.

Over the five-lap race, King consistently extended her advantage by close to a minute a lap on Jodie Willett in second place. King was at home on both the climbs and the technical rocky descents. King crossed the line in a time 1:39:50, in front of Willett who finished in 1:43:53. Fay placed third in 1:47:22

Like Blair, King also won the recent Cape to Cape mountain bike race in WA. The experience gained racing World Cups in Europe earlier in the year put her in good stead for the season opener.

King was at home on the course. "I loved the course, it was pretty technical when you were riding quick. The rock gardens, drops and chutes were great fun. The climbing was tough, but I think the steeper climbs suited me."

With the remaining rounds of the national series in mind, the result was encouraging for King, "I trained really hard over winter, but saying that I am certainly not peaking yet."

Under 23 men

In the U23 men's category, Luke Fetch rode consistently to take the victory in a time of 1:25:57. Mitchell Codner started quickly but was unable to match Fetch when he was passed on the third lap. Codner finished second in 1:28:38, Michael Crosbie finished third in 1:30:19.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrew Blair1:41:23
2Sid Taberlay0:01:26
3Joshua Carlson0:03:35
4Ben Henderson0:05:33
5Nick Both0:06:14
6Craig Cooke0:08:49
7Jarrad Burrell0:09:54
8James Kennedy0:11:12
9Andrew Fellows0:12:25
10Evan Jeffery0:19:49
11Anthony Shippard0:26:51

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jenni King1:39:50
2Jodie Willett0:04:03
3Jenny Fay0:07:32
4Rosemary Barnes0:17:01
5Sarah Holmes0:25:53
6Claire Garcia-Webb0:26:36

Under 23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luke Fetch1:25:57
2Mitchell Codner0:02:41
3Michael Crosbie0:04:22
4Cameron Ivory0:07:36
5Robbie Rhodes0:08:23
6Kyle Ward0:09:40
7Blake Polverino0:11:30
8Sebastian Jayne0:12:35
9Merlin Spranz0:12:34
10Daniel McDonald0:15:41
11Rowan Brown0:21:51
12Ben Marshall0:23:47
13Jack Haig0:25:13

Under 19 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Billy Sewell1:10:50
2Ben Bradley0:03:48
3Ben Comfort0:05:15
4Christopher Aitken0:06:13
5Cameron Prosser0:07:08
6Toby Stewart0:09:20
7Rodger Pogson-Manning0:09:39
8Ryan Lloyd0:13:57
9Zack Agius0:23:02
10Jordan Butler0:24:48
11Harry Lindsay1:06:04

Under 19 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Holly Harris1:13:11
2Emily Parkes0:03:04
3Kyna Millan0:11:42

Under 17 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Hamish Prosser0:57:28
2Reece Tucknott0:00:20
3Darcy Pirotta0:00:51
4Callum Carson0:02:00
5Simon Harrington0:02:22
6Mitchell Greenway0:05:11
7Jack Jude0:05:57
8Dean Madden0:08:05
9Nathan King0:16:05
10Lindsay Rhodes1:06:37

Under 15 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zale Ross-Willmore0:50:17
2Sean Maggs0:15:26
3Kasey Smith0:32:17

Under 15 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sarah Tucknott0:49:20
2Gabrielle Millan0:31:24

Veteran men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Bennett1:16:06
2Daniel Sonnabend0:06:09
3Damon Wicki0:06:13
4Clive Jones0:08:13

Veteran women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rhianna Farrell1:14:13
2Stefanie Van Amerongen0:05:46

Master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Damon Willmore1:14:28
2David Harris0:11:44
3Jason Auld0:12:10
4Simon Dec0:13:11
5Andrew Remely0:24:22
6Tim Roach0:26:10

Super master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Henderson1:01:49
2Kevin Jones0:01:45
3Craig Peacock0:04:08

Grand master men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bert Floss0:46:59
2Bruno Wicki0:06:02

Sport men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kevin Washer0:42:45
2Jonathan Beck0:02:24
3Jason Head0:03:48
4Garry Wright0:18:42
5Jon Stewart0:22:23
6Benjamin Thorman0:23:03
7Chris Park0:28:53
8Chad Demidenko0:50:32

Sport women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peta Demidenko1:09:36


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