Race Report: Australian National Championships 2021

Mar 18, 2021
by Matt Rousu  


The 2021 Australian Mountain Bike Championships were held last week in the remote town of Maydena, Tasmania. It was an epic week with over 30 National Titles decided, a slew of age and elite categories in XCO, DH, XCC, Relay, Pumptrack, Trials and E-bike. I was lucky enough to travel down with Aus Cycling (the newly formed governing body of cycling in Australia) to photograph the week. It was both Aus Cycling and Maydena Bike Parks first National Championships and despite a few hiccups the event was a huge success.

In the main events the storybook hasn't changed. Troy Brosnan, Sian A'Hern, Bec and Dan McConnell reigned supreme all by huge margins over the other competitors, having said that it would be the most stacked field in recent memory for the other podium positions.

Follow the story in the photos below, XCO first followed by the DH.

There aren't many Olympians lining up in the mountain bike world these days, although there were a handful in Maydena

And they're off!

Bec McConnell never had a wheel to follow all week, taking home 3 Gold Medals

Zoe Cuthbert was granted special permission to move up to Elite from the U23 category. It paid off, Zoe took home a handful of silver.

Dan McConnell was dominant from the first lap, extending his lead throughout the race eventually winning by 5 minutes

Jared Graves was a hot contender coming into Maydena, swapping the Enduro bike for a speedy looking XC hardtail. He battled hard to win the silver medal as a huge rain squall came through at the start of the last lap.

Cam Ivory has won the XCO title before but he would have to settle for bronze this year.

Also on the hunt for a medal was Tasman Nankervis. 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions would constantly change throughout the race but Tas just didn't have the legs on the final lap

Karen Hill rode a super strong race to claim the Bronze Medal, she would be the third and last woman to complete the entire 4 laps.

Katherine Hosking dropping into the infamous Tinder descent. One of the more controversial outcomes of the event was that this descent was pulled out of every race except the UCI events (Elite, U23 and U19), it wasn't because it was too hazardous, but that there was no B-line to race in case of an accident. Food for thought for 2022. Katherine would claim both the U23 XCO and XCC gold medals

Kathryn McInerney and Em Vitto on the descent from the top. Just as the women began their race it began raining, tyres were clogged up on the climb and the hardback parts of the descent became like ice to ride, most of the womens field chose this option down Tinder descent

Perhaps the most talked about issue of the week was the XCO course, the climbs went up already existing designated descent trails, a few features had been built but it was 90% existing trail. To Maydena's credit, they did make the course difficult to a National Champs standard but was it the wrong type of difficult? Here Rachel Hore navigates one of the descents that had been turned into a climb, she would go on to claim 4th in Elite and then change into her full face for DH quallies later that day.

Bec McConnell showing her class, she would win the XCO by over 11 minutes!

Sam Fox won the hotly contended U23 mens race, it would be his first National Champs win, a super impressive result for the Tasmanian.

Matt Dinham, Sam Fox and Cam Wright, They've all now been National Champion, these boys will be a threat in the U23 category on the world stage over the next couple of years!

Hayley Oakes in an impressive performance won the U19 womens title

This was perhaps the best bar to bar race of the week, the U19 XCC. Joel Dodds (leading) the eventual winner in a four-person sprint finish

Lenny the Dach was easily the most loved dog over the week, here Dan McConnell celebrates his victory

Did I mention it rained... Jared Graves in a valiant effort for 2nd place

Just a bit of bark off, Jared crashed 4 times on the last lap due to a slow front tyre leak, it was enough to see him withdraw from the following days XCC.

Anyone want an energy boost?

Rachel Hore came here to race Enduro and DH. She ended up 4th in the country in XCO! Stoked!!

Bec McConnell, what a champ! I'm seeing form that will be a major threat in this year's World Cup.

Kathryn McInerney would come back with a vengeance, claiming the bronze medal in the XCC the following day

Bec and Dan McConnell, their talent is undeniable and untouchable for another year!

Josh Carlson eases to victory in the E-bike class.

I think Tasman sums it up best, the 2021 XCO titles were brutal!

Baxter Maiwald on the tools, reshaping the finish line jump after the first day of practice.

What we're all fighting for!

Daily park sessions were all time.

Pump track vibes! Friday night light

The vibe was good at the Pump Track Champs.

Harriet Burbidge-Smith took home her first medal here on the Pumptrack, it was all gold!

Ryan Gilchrist spent his week playing around on the Pump Track, it turns out he's pretty talented, Gold medal and National Champ.

Those first run feels, Troy Brosnan explains to Sian Ahern "Whhhaaabaaabbaaaabaaaa"

Remy Meier-Smith, the younger brother and now your U19 National Champ, following in his older brothers footsteps.

Elise Empey took out the U19 title this year, her time would have placed her 2nd in elite! Look out for her at Worlds this year!

There were crashes in the dust earlier in the week.

and crashes in the mud on the weekend...

Local favourite Dan Booker showed his talent on Saturday by qualifying 1st, as the last man down the hill on Sunday he was absolutely buzzing stoked.

Ollie Davis through the slop during Saturday's qualifier. Ollie would end up 2nd in U19, a good start for his career he's planning on racing World Cup this year

Ayla Armitage sends the big road gap!

The roots which inevitably came out to play would prove crucial when the rain came pouring down on Saturday.

Dean Lucas through the dark woods. Dean rode super strong all week with the good time vibes clearly present.

Harriet Burbidge-Smith felt at home on all the big jumps here in Maydena, she rode herself into her second medal in the DH, this time it was bronze.

Cassie Voysey cruising through the ferns, she picked up speed over the week and came away with the Silver medal in her first year of Elite.

It was good to see Josh Button back on the bike, here he navigates a super awkward gap that saved about a second, 9th place in the end for Josh

Kye A'Hern was full gas every time I saw him, 7th place in the end for the youngster.

Luke Meier-Smith, full noise through the forrest, 5th place for the first year elite rider!

Connor Fearon blasting over the new step up, in fact, all of this track is practically brand new, created specifically for this event.

Sian A'Hern sending it over the huge road gap. Sian was super nervous coming into this year's Champs, she had a point to prove out on track.

Plenty of dust roost during the week...

Which turned into goopy mud roost on the weekend, qualifying runs saw the worst of the weather.

Did I mention there were ferns?

Connor Fearon had a crash during Sunday practice which would, unfortunately, sideline him for the big show, it was a shame as the many tight corners really suited his riding style and speed.

Shelly Flood through the light pockets up high on the track. The shuttle uplift was an interesting one, with a 900m long fire road ride into the start of the DH track it was a good warm-up for the riders, not the greatest access for the media though. Shelly rode into a super impressive 4th place, her champagne game was strong on the podium too.

The Meier-Smith train, at one stage I asked another photographer "was that Luke or Remy"? He replied, "does it matter"? It turns out not so much as they're pretty much the same speed now. Both on Propain Factory Racing they'll both be at the pointy end at World Cups this year.

Baxter Maiwald and crew created an awesome DH track for this event, loose, off-camber, high consequence A-lines and wide open through the Tassie jungle! Baxter himself landed on the podium in 4th!

Tim Eaton sends it for the crowd!

Lia Ladbook in her first DH race, yeah she ended up with a silver medal in U19 and would have come 3rd in Elite. Talent!

Jordan Prochyra qualified 2nd but had a few issues in the final run, he landed in 8th.

Rachel Hore finally coming out of the woods, 4th in Elite XCO and 9th in Elite DH!!!

Troy Brosnan navigates the fast and loose off-camber section about halfway down.

Jackson Frew had a tough week, having missed a couple of days of practice and being told he shouldn't race, he landed in 6th spot. I'm sure it's not what he wanted but sometimes that's just racing.

Dean Lucas sat in the hot seat for a little while, but Papa Smurf would have to settle for bronze this year, he was still stoked to be back racing after over a year off between the tape.

Everyone held their breath as Dan Booker came down over the finish line jump, as the last rider down he had a solid run and earned himself the silver medal, the 2nd best downhiller in the country.

Troy Brosnan, literally flying down the track.

Sian A'Hern finding time where no one else could, once again she decimated the elite field by over 20 seconds!

After the dust had settled it would be Troy Brosnan by nearly 6 seconds, once again taking the National Title!

The Man and Machine!

The second time around it doesn't get any easier, but it's just as sweet!

Shelly Flood living up to the name, soaking the podium.

Dean Lucas showing who's the podium Champagne king

The champagne-soaked banner of the 2021 Australian National Champs. It was a successful event not without a few hiccups that can be addressed before the 2022 event. Well done to all riders and organisers, see you back there next year!

Full results can be found here: https://www.multisportaustralia.com.au/groups/422


15 Comments

  • 22 0
 Go Graves! thats fantastic! what you've been through man to pull off 2nd in XCO....WOW For me this is the headline! Congratulations JARED GRAVES, that's the highlight for me!!!! Stoked that overshadows it all i'm afraid! Yeah
  • 4 0
 Yep. He was on another level, definitely still the most well rounded cyclist out there.
  • 2 0
 @mrousu: Great photos and write up Matt!
  • 6 0
 With second in this could Graves qualify for Olympics XC? I don't understand qualification and everything with that, just curious.
  • 1 0
 Hmmm. I know Bec is already pre selected. Dan would definitely be the next to go. I think Aus only have 1-2 spots at this stage for the MTB. Cam Ivory would also be up there with some UCI points. But. Wouldn’t it be sick to see him back at the Olympics!
  • 4 0
 Nice wrap and great photos, thanks Matt Go Canberra!
  • 4 0
 Yeeww!! Thanks for the great summary and wicked photos!!
  • 2 0
 Congrats to Troy and Shian! Turns out the mullet setup that Canyon advises not to do with the Sender is pretty fast after all...
  • 3 0
 These photos are insane! Great post.
  • 2 0
 Really beautiful pics! This XC thing looks really painfull tho.
  • 2 0
 Awesome shots Matt!
  • 2 0
 Sick coverage Matt
  • 1 0
 Cheers Ty, you should come next year. Super fun week.
  • 1 0
 @mrousu: could be on the cards!
  • 2 0
 Killed it brother!

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