Hurricanes and zombies
The news reports had been fairly dire. Talk of hurricane-force winds and two severe low pressure systems headed for Adelaide seemed to be all anyone was talking about. Still, it wouldn’t be a National Championships if things didn’t go up a notch or two.
Luckily, it was all media hype. Conditions stayed fairly tame - a little bit of rain here, a gust of wind there. The conversation moved from weather gossip to the business of cyclocross racing - and trying to win the gold.
This year the racing was at ‘Zombie Park’, named for the West Terrace Cemetery it shares a border with. A much-loved cyclocross racing venue, it has a little bit of everything (including our favourite course name in Aus).
On a full card, the junior, masters and expert categories hammered it out on the mostly-dry course, ahead of the big-ticket men’s and women’s fields.
Redmond vs Mullens
The women’s race was headlined by the highly-anticipated battle between Nat Redmond (Ozriders Cannondale SRAM) and Peta Mullens (Focus Attaquer). Many saw the elite women’s race as a strictly two horse affair, featuring two of the finest female racers in the land. On one hand, Nat had been having a stellar 2017 in the NCXS, while, on the other, Peta had been off taking scalps in the US road and criterium scene. Most importantly, they hadn’t raced CX against each other during the 2017 season - meaning the formline was difficult to gauge. It could go either way.
The showdown did not disappoint, with both riders strong off the front and trading blows. Nat twice lept out to a 10 second lead, once when Peta struggled to clip back into her pedal, and again after an untimely stumble. Ultimately, though, Peta’s road speed and MTB skills saw her come away with the win - and her first CX national championship.
Nat lost few admirers in a gutsy performance, which should hold her in good stead when she heads off to Europe to race in CX heartland.
|Peta Mullens||Focus Attaquer||46:49|
|Natalie Redmond||Oz Riders||+0:00:15|
|Naomi Williams||Team WillyLocke||+0:00:24|
|4||Rebecca Locke||Team WillyLocke||+0:00:32|
Out for blood
After a showstopping elite women’s race, all eyes turned to the elite men’s event. It was hard to look past Chris ‘J-Blood’ Jongewaard (Flanders J-Blood) for a 2nd straight national championship, however anything can happen in CX.
Garry Millburn (Speedvagen MAAP) and Chris Aitken (Focus Attaquer), plus the other heavy hitters in the pack, knew this all too well and, although J-Blood got the jump early to establish a handy lead, the relentless chase never let up.
J-Blood knew this also. Although his lead looked substantial, it was never much more than 15 seconds. A dropped chain, or a lapse in concentration, and that lead would be gone. Accordingly, he never took his foot off the pedal, pushing himself to stay away. It is rare to see a grimace on Chris’ face. Today, we saw it often.
It was enough to see J-Blood get to the line first, on the back of some exciting racing. His 2nd national title in as many years, bringing his grand total up to 13x national jerseys across MTB and CX.
|Chris Jongewaard||Flanders JBlood||1:00:40|
|Christopher Aitken||Focus Attaquer||+0:00:16|
|4||Tom Chapman||Focus Attaquer||+0:01:04|
|5||Adrian Jackson||Orbea Aus||+0:01:56|
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