Both Australian National Cross Country Champions won the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Nelson, New Zealand last week. Adelaide’s Chris Jongewaard and Melbourne’s Dellys Starr reconfirmed their current positions as two of only four Australian rider in the shadow team for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Jongewaard had to fight for the lead which was taken by former Athens Olympian, Sid Taberlay from Tasmania. Taberlay led convincing during the first four of six laps of the 8.4 km course. In the final two laps, Jongewaard reclaimed the lead winning in a record 2h00.19. Taberlay placed second with Victorian, Dan McConnell claiming third. All three riders are currently on the men’s shadow team.
Australia’s national champion and only female rider to qualify for the shadow team, Dellys Starr, won the elite women’s race. The 31 year old from Melbourne powered over the four laps in just 1 hour 37 min 43 sec. In a standout ride Starr headed out quickly and was not challenged. New Zealand’s Kaytee Boyd (Auckland) placed second with Tasmania’s Rowena Fry in third.
“I pushed up the climbs and pulled away and lead from the start,” stated Starr. “I always go out as hard as I can.”
I was happy with the win because my preparation and training is heading in the right direction.”
Starr said she had done some threshold training before this event however with a long season of World Cups ahead, Starr says she will return to strength training.
The Australian mountain bike team for the Beijing 2008 Olympics will consist of one female and one male cross country rider but they are not expected to be nominated until after the World Mountain Bike Championships in Val Di Sole in Italy in late July.
Starr will race the remaining short course cross country in Nelson before returning to Melbourne for one day with her family before heading overseas to start her assault on the World Cups in Europe.
The under 23 men’s race was also won after an early charge up the initial climb by Lachlan Norris from Victoria. A return to form for the young 21 year old university student saw him cover the 5 laps in 1h 20.29.
“The win today will mean I get a good starting position at the World Cups and World Championships,” explained Norris.
Norris will depart Australia at the end of this month along with the three members of the men's shadow team, Jongewaard, McConnell and Taberlay.