Stromlo Forest Park, on the western edge of Australia's Capital, Canberra, is a venue that's hosted many major moutain biking events over its relatively short history. Its history as a mountain bike venue begins in a large-scale disaster, being devastated by bushfires in 2003. After the devastation a plan was developed to build a world class venue. In the time since, it's been host to a UCI World Championship, a UCI World Cup downhill round along with many other local events. While it may lack some elevation compared with other venues that have hosted Downhill World Cups, the variety and depth of trails on the mountain see it being used heavily by all levels of mountain biker, from casual riders through to XC fiends and DH bros.
This weekend saw it host the second round of the MTBA National Gravity Enduro series. After Round 1 in Falls Creek, which saw Chris Panozzo edge out Ben Forbes and Ben Cory for the win in Elite Men, and Julia Boer take the win in Elite Women, would we see a similar set of results?
There were around 160 riders on the start list, a great turnout. Racing format was a 5 stage race with approximately 40 minutes for each competitor to ride up the liaisons and then down each stage. The day initially started with a classic Canberra cold fog, but by the time the first rider started riding up the hill the weather started to warm up a little and the fog melted away.
Many of the most technical tracks (Short and Sharp, Up the Anti) and also some of the most fun tracks (Luge, Skyline) were included in the course. With the liaisons including two tough climbs up Casuarina climb in the north-western part of Stromlo and two long rides around the southern ascent loop, making them within the allocated time was a challenge for a lot of riders.
In the Junior Men's category, a big crash for Round 1 winner Harrison Dobrowolski required him to sit out for around a minute and a half gathering his thoughts and probably wondering how he came out without a broken bone. Even with even with 1st and 2nd stage results afterwards, Sam Walsh, who was riding on edge and fast all day, snatched the win in the category. What Sam may lack in size he certainly makes up for in speed, and took the win by 41 seconds over Cameron Cubit in second place.
The Elite Women's race saw a familiar lineup from Stage 1 and a couple of new faces.
Round 1 winner Julia Boer unfortunately suffered a DNF result ruling her out of the pordium. Claire Whiteman, in her first race in the series so far snatched a couple of important stage wins on stage 3 and 4, gaining enough time to take the overall win by 38 seconds from Jaclyn Schapel in second place. Jaclyn had a good race, with a stage win on stage 2 and consistent times all day show that she has the potential to score important wins in the rest of the series. Sian A'Hern, racing some of her home tracks scored important stage wins in stage 1 and 5, arguably the most "downhill" of the stages, unfortunately not a great result on Stages 3 and 4 but taking 3rd place overall by less than a second margin over Ebony Tanzen in 4th.Elite Women's Results1 - Claire Whiteman
26:24.96 overall2 - Jaclyn Schapel
27:03.27 (+0:38.31)3 - Sian A'Hern
In the Elite Men's category, injuries, mechanicals and slowdowns were the order of the day. Chris Panozzo looked super fast all day, only slowing down on Stage 1 in the Luge sections when a couple of local Sunday riders somehow found their way onto the track ahead of him leading to a heated discussion that shouldn't need to happen on a race day. David Ludenia suffered a decent crash that still allowed him to finish with injury but requiring stitches after the race. Anthony Elliot had a stage win on Stage 2, however had to retire with major mechanicals on his Pivot.
But overall it was Dylan Cooper, Kaine Cannan and Chris Panozzo battling it out for the top spot. Dylan Cooper had two stage wins and very narrowly missed out on the overall win. Kaine Cannan looked consistently fast and slotted into third place overall not far behind, with Chris taking the overall win and his second win of the series.Elite Men's Results1 - Chris Panozzo
22:30.99 overall2 - Dylan Cooper
22:32.78 (+0:01.79)3 - Kaine Cannan
22:42.83 (+0:11.84)Full Results available here