Armidale’s University of New England campus hosted its second round of the National XCO Series today on a day that began with perfect sunny skies but gave way to brief storms in the afternoon. Today’s track included some elements of yesterday’s course, with the same start loop and a few early trails in common, but took riders further away from the start/finish to face off against a bunch of rocky, rough, and spectacularly technical challenges.
The Armidale track: day 2
Although tallying just 40m of climbing per lap, today’s round four of the National Series still had plenty to test the recovery from yesterday’s race. As we mentioned in our report from yesterday’s round three, double headers are an increasingly common feature on the XCO calendar. As such, they’re placing new demands on riders and their equipment, and the mental and physical challenge of backing up throwing a few off balance, particularly when most riders spent Saturday in feedzones or on course, squeezing in some more practice or looking after other riders, rather than lying down in a pair of recovery compression pump pants.
That aside, spectators had plenty to back up for, too, with the intense vertical (no wait. Concave) drop down ‘Mars Attacks’ and a host of other rocky, built features drawing crowds with cameras and cowbells to observe the fallout.
Elite Women’s racing
After such close racing yesterday, the Elite Women’s event promised some bar-to-bar action and made good within the first few seconds, with an unfolding battle between Holly Harris, Rebecca Henderson, Anna Beck, and Eliza Kwan for the top four positions.
Close and tactical racing over five laps saw placings change several times, and resulted in a sprint finish between Kwan and Henderson, with the National Champ Henderson victorious by 0.04 seconds. That’s half a wheel. Hometown favourite Harris came in third, followed by Anna Beck, then Katherine McInerney.
Elite Men back up
Cam Ivory started the day a hot favourite after a fabulous display of skill and speed over yesterday’s course, topped off, of course, with the win. Ben Oliver went out hard and was at the front of the race before being reeled in by Brendan ‘Trekky’ Johnston who was only to be chased down by a storming Ivory in the final lap! Ivory went on to win having posted incredibly consistent lap times, with Johnston a close second. Ben Oliver, Tasman Nankervis, and Ben Bradley rounded out the podium with strong and consistent rides.
Armidale’s XCO weekend
Riders and spectators finished the weekend with nothing but praise for The University of New England courses and facilities. The tracks provided an exciting mix of technical and physical challenges, plus plenty of fun elements to distract from the burning pain of racing. The weekend’s racing was flawlessly run by the New England Mountain Bike Club and the community who came out to cater for and cheer on the riders.