Australian Nationals: Round 2, Mt Stromlo - XCO

Dec 12, 2015
by Jaime Black  
Round 2 of the XCO format in the Aussie National series brings us to Mt Stromlo's renowned UCI World Championships course, constructed by World Trail and maintained by Stromlo Forest Park. An undeniably more technical and demanding course than we saw in round one, Stromlo would break a few hearts by the end of racing today. 5.8km of beautiful berms, starting with an ascent affectionately named 'Cardiac Arrest', followed by a magic carpet ride down the 'Luge' trail, with 'Hammerhead' and the 'Three Sisters' drops in between. First up on the agenda was U17 men, followed by the Ladies & Men's main events.

Another clear hot day ahead meant a tough day on the bike for competitors. With Elite Men to kick off in the middle of the day the heat and sun were just two more things to add to the list of challenges for riders today.
  Another clear, hot day ahead meant tough times on the bike. With Elite racing to kick off in the middle of the day, the heat and sun were just two more things to add to the list of challenges for riders today.

All-round gun rider Matt Dinham leads out the U17 Men for the first race of the day only to keep his lead over rival Sam Fox and take first place. Charlie Brodie would take second place followed by Fox in 3rd.
  All-round gun rider Matt Dinham leads out the U17 Men for the first race of the day, only to keep his lead over rival Sam Fox and take first place. Charlie Brodie would take second place, followed by Fox in 3rd.

Australian Nationals Round 2 Mt Stromlo - XCO
  Zoe Cuthbert, local club member powers through, racing simultaneously with the Elite Women. Once again keeping a solid pace with her elders, Zoe took first place in the U17 category ahead of Teagan Atherstone and Emily Wooster.

King takes on Hammerhead time and time again with no trouble. Her technical ability and cool calm and collected nature were astounding on course today.
  King takes on Hammerhead time and time again, with no trouble. Her technical ability and cool, calm, and collected nature were astounding on course today.

Australian Nationals Round 2 Mt Stromlo - XCO
  Nearing the peak of Cardiac Arrest, pushing was definitely an option. Skill and finesse are required to execute this section at the best of times, regardless of a racing environment.

Australian Nationals Round 2 Mt Stromlo - XCO
  Bec Henderson, at her first race back for this season looks to be coming back into form. A consistent pace would see her fall behind the lead riders and take 3rd place.

Switchback after switchback takes riders up the mountain and then back down. Despite punishment all day the course held up extremely well and gave all riders an even playing field.
  Switchback after switchback takes riders up the mountain, and then back down. Despite punishment all day, the course held up extremely well and gave all riders an even playing field.

As an adaption of the World Cup course ran in 2009 many boulder rollovers and multiple line sections tested riders as they grew weary. Lorien Allen maintains her focus to conquer the entry to hammerhead no worries.
  This adapted version of the World Cup course of 2009 had many boulder rollovers and multiple line sections that tested riders as they grew weary. Lorien Allen maintains her focus to conquer the entry to Hammerhead, no worries.

The pads are not for show - many riders even elite opted for the B-line as a crash here could mean more than a few seconds lost.
  The pads are not for show - many riders, even elite opted for the B-line as a crash here could mean more than a few seconds lost.

Dropping into hammerhead with the picturesque Canberran views behind. No time to admire for this rider though as hammerhead is an unforgiving section.
  Dropping into hammerhead with the picturesque Canberran views behind. There's no time to admire though as Hammerhead is an unforgiving section.

Leaving a seat behind with a whole lap to go is not ideal - Mt Stromlo is not the course to be riding with constant weight on the legs.
  Leaving a seat behind with a whole lap to go is not ideal - Mt Stromlo is not the course to be riding with constant weight on the legs.

Lizzy Kwan hunting for ground on her leader Holly Harris. Bike skills and strength are equally important in succeeding on this course.
  Lizzy Kwan hunting for ground on her leader, Holly Harris. Bike skills and strength are equally important in succeeding on this course.

Holly Harris hitting the Luge berms hard and fast with a good gap ahead and behind her to secure a 6th place result.
  Holly Harris hitting the Luge berms hard and fast, with a good gap ahead and behind her to secure a 6th place result.

Congratulated by MTBA Commentator Stu Plant Jenni King now plans to complete the series after early rumours that she would give select later rounds a miss.
  Congratulations from MTBA Commentator Stu Plant. Jenni King now plans to complete the series after early rumours that she would give select later rounds a miss.

Jenni King congratulates Peta Mullens as she hits the finish. With a convincing 45 second gap Jenni takes 2 from 2 and secures her lead in the series standings. The Ladies podium would be rounded out by Bec Henderson NZ s Samara Sheppard and Karen Hill in 3rd 4th and 5th respectively.
  Jenni King congratulates Peta Mullens as she hits the finish. With a convincing 45 second gap, Jenni takes 2 from 2 and secures her lead in the series standings. The Ladies podium would be rounded out by Bec Henderson, NZ's Samara Sheppard and Karen Hill in 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.

Before the race riders were seeking some peace and shade to escape the sun and warm up. The whirr of trainers filled the pavillion as the countdown to kick-off ticked on.
   Before the race, riders were seeking some peace and shade to escape the sun and warm up. The whirr of trainers filled the pavilion as the countdown to kick-off ticked on.

Australian Nationals Round 2 Mt Stromlo - XCO
  On the start line, it's all seriousness. Taking a few final moments to calm the nerves and get their head in the game, our Elite Men's field focus on the job ahead of them.

A split-second after the gun the Elite men are off eyes on the prize. Note Dan McConnell putting some serious cranks in there is no doubt his incredible first-lap lead was intentional.
  A split-second after the gun, the Elite men are off, eyes on the prize. Note Dan McConnell putting some serious cranks in; there is no doubt his incredible first-lap lead was intentional.

U23 Men hungry for the holeshot as they leave the tar and hit the dirt for the first time.
  U23 Men hungry for the holeshot as they leave the tar and hit the dirt for the first time.

Scott Bowden showing his intentions early on just about rubbing tires with Andy Blair for the entire race.
  Scott Bowden showing his intentions early on, just about rubbing tires with Andy Blair for the entire race.

The change of scenery from dusty enclosed Mt Taylor is refreshing for the riders - the increase in demanding features on the trail may not be. Here Dan clears a roller on his 2nd lap still holding a crazy pace at this stage in the race to extend his lead on the pack.
  The change of scenery from dusty, enclosed Mt Taylor is refreshing for the riders - the increase in demanding features on the trail may not be. Here Dan clears a roller on his 2nd lap, still holding a crazy pace at this stage in the race to extend his lead on the pack.

Focus Australia rider Shaun Lewis riding aggressively in lap 2 hot on the heels of the race leaders. Shaun would make it inside the top 10 with 9th place 6 minutes behind Dan.
  Focus Australia rider Shaun Lewis riding aggressively in lap 2, hot on the heels of the race leaders. Shaun would make it inside the top 10 with 9th place, 6 minutes behind Dan.

Australian Nationals Round 2 Mt Stromlo - XCO
  The few fireroad sections gave riders' minds a well-earned rest and provided another opportunity to pass and make up places before ducking back onto the singletrack.

Toki Sawada glad to be on the undulating descent. The Sri Lankan rider and his team all on Anchor bikes are taking on the Aussie national series as part of their World tour.
  Toki Sawada, glad to be on the undulating descent. The Sri Lankan rider and his team, all on 'Anchor' bikes are taking on the Aussie national series as part of their World tour.

Dan in a league of his own but not letting the legs rest as he powers on down the Luge trail toward the start finish area.
  Dan in a league of his own, but not letting the legs rest as he powers on down the Luge trail toward the start/finish area.

Scott bowden putting the pressure on constantly for now ahead of Andy Blair in their race-long battle for 4th place.
  Scott Bowden putting the pressure on constantly, for now ahead of Andy Blair in their race-long battle for 4th place.

Despite a spaced out leading few there was still plenty of action mid-pack even late in the race.
  Despite a spaced out leading few, there was still plenty of action mid-pack, even late in the race.

Australian Nationals Round 2 Mt Stromlo - XCO
  Still, as always the XCO is as much a solo event as it is a mass-competition.

When the going gets tough walking can be far quicker than rolling through. Ben Green keeping it going during his second last lap to take 7th in U23 Men.
  When the going gets tough, walking can be far quicker than rolling through. Ben Green keeping it going during his second last lap to take 7th in U23 Men.

With a mix of technical descents and never-ending climbs focus and pace-setting were key to lasting the distance this round.
  With a mix of technical descents and never-ending climbs, focus and pace-setting were paramount in lasting the distance this round.

Kyle Ward pushing the pain barrier to close the gap on Dan and make it through the final lap of 6.
  Kyle Ward, pushing the pain barrier to close the gap on Dan and make it through the final lap of 6.

Cam Ivory ascending Cardiac Arrest fighting a solo battle of endurance and frustration in attempts to catch Dan amp Kyle.
  Cam Ivory ascending Cardiac Arrest, fighting a solo battle of endurance and frustration in attempts to catch Dan and Kyle.

Dan McConnnell happy with taking the top step after mechanicals saw him drop his chain several times on course thanks 2nd place Kyle Ward for putting the pressure on. After a blistering first lap lead of over a minute Dan was steadily caught by Ward to finish with just a 13.5 second gap.
  Dan McConnnell, happy with taking the top step after mechanicals saw him drop his chain several times on course. Here he thanks 2nd place Kyle Ward for putting the pressure on throughout the race. After a blistering first lap lead of over a minute, Dan was steadily caught by Ward to finish with just a 13.5 second gap. The Elite Men's podium also featured Cam Ivory, Andy Blair and Scott Bowden in 3rd to 5th place.

For the full results from Round 2 of the Australian National XCO series, click HERE

Look forward to our coverage of the DHI racing tomorrow, which promises plenty more on trail action here in Canberra.


MENTIONS: @RideDirtWake / @benstevens




24 Comments

  • + 15
 Thanks for the race report.
  • + 16
 I am a model You know what I mean And I do my little turn on the catwalk Yeah on the catwalk
  • + 12
 I can't be the only one reading this looking to see if Jared Graves raced.
  • + 1
 Yeah me too. I;m not sure but one or two years ago he was second just behind McConnel. Love to compare fitness from different riding backgrounds.
  • + 1
 I was also hoping to see him take the win.
  • + 2
 I think he said he won't do that again because it skewed his training toward fitness to the detriment of skills (or maybe strength?) and he wasn't where he wanted to be at the start of the enduro season.
  • + 1
 I remember reading somewhere he didn't want to become a Diesel. And with good reason!
  • + 6
 Noticed Dan McConnnell was using a dropper post. Definitely soothing I think we will see more off next season. Having rode hammer head numerous of times myself the weight penalty is 100% justified.
  • + 1
 Hammerhead ain't even bad, 3 sisters after it is honestly harder. Once you know the proper line for hammer head it's a pretty simple drop, the only issue people have is getting their weight far enough back.
  • + 8
 Great coverage - love this high quality coverage of XC on pinkbike...
  • + 1
 Yes I agree,Pinkbike is the most updated mtb site going!
  • + 3
 Great photos and report thanks...some mates went all the way to Stromlo to ride this weekend without realising the Nats were on...I think they got some early laps in...
  • + 3
 Great weather Wink And it looks like an awesome and tough track!
  • + 2
 Wait but how do you lose a seat? Seems like something that is fairly well attached to the bike no?
  • + 1
 A crash perhaps – I'm not sure who the rider was but she was very rattle-y as she rode away.
  • + 2
 Prolly a broken bolt on the sp. Riding without a saddle is really awkward, especially if the sp is still fully extended.
  • + 3
 Looks more enduro than plenty of American enduro races. Solid course.
  • + 2
 Love the XC coverage guys!
  • + 3
 Great coverage!
  • + 3
 yay! xc!Smile
  • + 1
 Glad to see Dan is still top dog down under.
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