New Zealand’s Jessica Manchester stole the show in Round 6 of the 2017 XCO National Series held at Mt Taylor in Bairnsdale on Sunday.
The Auckland mountain biker produced the ride of the day to take out the junior women’s event, registering four of the five fastest women’s laps.
Manchester was stunned when told of her feat, after winning by more than two minutes ahead of Katherine Hosking (NSW) and Phoebe Young (NZL).
The young visitor picked her way through the field, which included elite women riders who had started only a few minutes before.
“It’s good to give them (elite) competition as well and I’ll be versing them next year as I’ll be Under 23 so it’s good to get a head-start,” she said.
Manchester will head home to New Zealand for the national championships before returning to compete at the Oceanias at Toowoomba in a fortnight where she will defend her title..
With no national series in her home country this year, the 17 year old would like to see more cross over racing in Australia.
“It’s a good race experience and my riding has improved quite a bit, especially as I’ve never had such a big start with the elite women,” she commented.
In the elite women after yesterday’s breakthrough victory, Holly Harris (NSW) went out favourite in Sunday’s race, with Rebecca Henderson missing, and made it back to back victories in a time of 1:16:23 ahead of Kathryn McInerney (NSW) and Charlotte Rayner (NZL)
Harris bolted to the front from the gun and was never really threatened, despite the efforts of Rayner who climbed through the field on laps three and four and mounted a challenge.
“The course suited me so well the technical stuff and it was such great riding, I never expected to get a podium,” the Kiwi rider remarked.
Riders faced cold and wet conditions as they set out on their five laps of the 4.2km course.
“It was technical as it was so slippery out there and I kind of lost my head a bit in the middle laps,” Harris commented.
However, the gap was too large to peg back, as the battle intensified for the minor placings with McInerney overtaking Rayner on the final lap.
“It was really hard to get a passing opportunity out there so had to make the most of the fire trail and I just got really lucky I think,” McInerney said.
In the elite men Brendan Johnston (ACT) again had the legs to make it two gold medals from the weekend ahead of Daniel McConnell (ACT) and Tasman Nankervis (VIC) with a time of 1:22:27 after seven laps.
The reigning Australian marathon champion was surprised how well he backed up.
“I really enjoyed that race, Tasman made it really hard at the start and then I kind of went on with it and felt really good,” Johnston said.
“Lately I’ve been able to measure my effort really well and was able to do that again today. I certainly wasn’t aware of the battle that was going on behind me.”
That battle involved McConnell, who was keen to put on a performance in front of his home town, as he worked his way through the pack on the later laps to catch the wheel of Nankervis, who had been sitting in second for most of the race.
“I just got Tas at the top of the descent and there wasn’t much passing at all and just managed to sneak past before the rock garden.”
They would ensure the finish would go down to the wire with a sprint finish.
“As long as you are first into the last corner you got a pretty good chance,” McConnell said.
In the junior men, there was no change at the top with Cameron Wright (QLD) walking away with two impressive victories over the weekend. After bagging a handful of UCI points on Saturday the Queenslander was again in fine form thwarting the challenges by Sam Fox (TAS) and Kian Lech-Mackinnon (VIC) in a strong field.
Over 400 riders competed over the two days, with the seventh and final round of the cross-country national series to be held at Toowoomba in a fortnight.
For full results head HERE
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