Armidale, halfway between Sydney and Brisbane in the northern tablelands of NSW, hosts this weekend’s Australian XCO National Series double header (rounds three and four). Double-headers are appearing more and more frequently on the XCO calendar in Australia, a welcome strategy for keeping costs down as riders travel immense distances to race in our largely empty country.
The man-made course at the University of New England campus has been built with aspirations to one day host a World Cup event, and is perhaps rivalled only by Mt Stromlo’s World Cup course for big, built technical features. Today this included some tricky climbing, plus a twisty rock garden made out of stones the size of white goods.
Today’s course was the hillier of the weekend’s racing, with a decent singletrack climb early in the course, a technical climbing section, and plenty of flowy ups and downs. The trail could be divided into five sections of different terrain – the initial climb and descent, a technical section squeezed into a kilometre or so of anguish, a fast downhill flow trail, natural pine forest singletrack, and a final slog over rutted grass to the start/finish.
In the Elite Women’s race, Bec Henderson set out to defend her number one plate against a stacked field of nearly 20 riders from the gun, leaving Holly Harris, Eliza Kwan, Anna Beck, and Katherine McInerney to fight over the rest of the podium. Beck soon emerged in second place, finishing just 20 seconds behind Henderson, with Harris in third, Kwan closing in in fourth, and McInerney in fifth.
Elite men in Armidale
In the Elite Men’s event, Cam Ivory slowly pulled away from Brendan (Trekky) Johntson, with Jared Graves sitting just behind, followed by chasers including Dan McConnell, Tasman Nankervis and Ben Oliver.
After McConnell abandoned the race after a crash, positions changed little over the men’s eight lap event, with Ivory in first, followed by Johntson, Graves, Oliver, and Tasman Nankervis.
Tomorrow sees riders tackle a flatter course that will favour efficiency and anybody who’s managed to bag a massage after today’s tough event. Want the full results? You can see them online.