On the 11th and 12th of February Bairnsdale hosted rounds 5 and 6 of the MTBA Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) National Series, which included the final round for some categories.
With different trails for each day, both tracks had challenging climbs with lots of dust making it hard on the legs and hard to recover and do them again. On the first day the corners were sandy and super slippery resulting in technical off-camber descending at speed in hot humid conditions. Day two presented rain and cold giving everyone a shock as they fought for space on a track that was really narrow with deep dark dust and trees waiting for a hug. It was the technical downhill rock garden “Cabbage Patch” that was a surprise for all with most of the lines getting ruttered out or covered in a thick layer of dust resulting in making or losing time very easy and the crowd gathered to watch in anticipation to see which way it went.
In Elites, local Brendon “Trekky” Johnston went hard from the start on the first day and really put on a show, and came out with his first ever Elite win, and on the second day he held on to Tasman Nankervis’s wheel for the first lap and then put down the power and held off the strong Australian representative and ACT rider, Dan McConnell. With the Elite series now completed Dan McConnell holds the leaders jersey with Trekky just behind in second place – a great result for ACT elite riders as they head into the Oceania Championships in a few weeks.
Racing at the same time in an extremely fast under 19 category Charlie Brodie and Jack Dunlop did very well with both placing well in their group on the second day Charlie must of felt good as he went out hard and was able to hold on to a podium position, and achieving an overall series placing of 4th in his first year in Junior Men – testament to dedication and a lot of hard work.
In Elite women ACT riders Rebecca Henderson, Emma Viotto, Eliza Kwan, Kelly Bartlett, Ruby Wilson and U19 Dana Riddle all did very well in a super competitive fields where the New Zealand riders were ready for a challenge. On day one Emma and Rebecca placed on the podium after a very strong Holly Harris (NSW) lead the field. Eliza just missed out on a medal placing on the second day in tough conditions but added a good result to her overall points taking her to third place in the series, while Rebecca sat the last race out and still achieved overall second in the series.
In the junior categories all riders did ACT proud and we saw some exceptional riding from our CORC Juniors. In the U17 Women, Zoe Cuthbert pushed hard to challenge not only the other U17s but also the U19s as she stormed home to two more exceptional wins with Sunday’s podium securing the leadership jersey for the series. U15 rider Arwen Crampton rode fast and confidently through the technical sections winning both rounds and holds the leaders position going into the final round in Toowoomba. In the U15 Men, Ryan Smith rode strongly to secure a 3rd place on day one, and showed courage and ridership when he was cut off at the top of the last ‘Cabbage Patch’ descent and missed the podium but goes to the final round with a fighting chance to hold his third series positon in his first year of racing.
Again, the U17 Men had the greatest number of strong and competitive riders. Declan Inglis, Callum Inglis, Josh Bilski, Sam Alexander, Jordan Riddle, and Spencer Collaviti all rode hard on both days to achieve solid placings and demonstrated the strong technical skills their coaching has cemented for them this year. Corey Smith took an early lead and held on strong to take 1st place on Saturday and 2nd place in Sunday’s race. Recognition for the sportsmanship the juniors are showing was provided when Spencer publicly thanked a rider that assisted him after a fall.
Supporting the large number of CORC Junior riders traveling to the events allows some parents to test their own skills against fellow national Masters riders, and for the juniors to support them with tech & feed zone requirements. Bairnsdale saw the CORC Masters men and women achieve ten podiums over the two days and cement many as national series leaders and podium contenders in their categories going into the final round.
Everyone is looking forward to the national Series finals and Oceania Championships in Toowoomba mid-March, closely followed by the Australian National Championships at Canungra, Gold Coast.