Newly crowned national champion, Chris Jongewaard, backed up his win at the titles last Sunday by winning the fourth National Series round today in Mt Buller.
Jongewaard rode the five laps in an impressive 2 hour 9.17 min. The 8 km newly developed cross course was unrelenting and according to Jongewaard, today’s race was tougher than winning the championships last weekend in Canberra.
“I reckon last weekend was a little bit easier for me,” he said.
“The first couple of laps were good but the course is so rough it gets you every lap so it’s very fatiguing out there,” Jongewaard admitted.
Soaring temperatures elsewhere in the southern states reached over 40 degrees however 400 mountain bike riders at the event were relieved to race in nearly ten degree (Photo provided by Evan Jeffery) cooler mountain air. Many riders still succumbed to the heat and tough conditions and even for Jongewaard it was the rocks that cause him to struggle in some sections of the course.
“It’s so rocky out there it’s unpredictable," he said. "You can’t always see all the rocks. You’ve just got to be smooth and hold your line. Sometimes you hit a rock and it sends you a different direction! It’s pretty tough."
Still Jongewaard did not regret a chance to race to depart his Adelaide base where temperatures soared today.
“It was a perfect opportunity to get away from Adelaide. I heard it was ten degrees cooler up here. A mate and I decided to come up so we are just enjoying the nice scenery and the good air up here,” he said.
Jongewaard also keeps his series lead with only one race remaining. Hobart will host the final national round at the end of February.
Zoe King from Manly won her first race of the national season after sitting behind national champion, Rowena Fry from Tasmania, early in the four lap race. King pounced on Fry on the second last climb and gained a minute on Fry to secure a victory.
"Feels great, it's a really long day out in the heat. Two hours is a long race anyway and just to be in these temperatures it was hard work. I certainly went out conservatively and tried to stay strong," explained King.
The heat took its toll with the women riding longer than officials expected stretching it to 2 hours 4.47 min time for top finisher, King.
“It was just important to save yourself in this heat,” advised King.
Fry claimed second in a sprint for the line with Mt Beauty rider, Tory Thomas, in third. Fourth was silver national champion, Jo Wall from Bendigo.
A respectable placing by Brisbane’s Jodie Willett in seventh place allowed her to keep the series lead.
Downhill practice will continue on Sunday with racing getting underway at 12 noon. Racing in this national round are two time world champion, Sam Hill and British team-mate, Brendan Fairclough. Newly crowned national champion, Mick Hannah from Cairns will also compete.
Defending their elite series lead will be Coffs Harbour’s Joshua Button and Canberra’s Claire Whiteman.