The 2021 Cross Country and Downhill Mountain biking National Championships headed to Maydena Bike Park in Tasmania on the weekend just gone and what an event it was. For the first year in a long time we saw the event held outside of Bright, Victoria and a fresh and new track adorned the hill at Maydena. This year was set to be a race weekend for the history books and a blockbuster weekend on and off the track for all…..
Written by Mike Branch,
Photography by Eduardo Knoch
As riders began to arrive in Maydena, bike bags begun to be unpacked and it started to become clear that this would be a week of epic riding for all. Over 250 riders had entered for the DH race in a multitude of categories and with the XC Nationals at the same location on the same weekend, it was fair to say that there was some atmosphere at Maydena. The week was spiced up with a few other events including pump track, meaning the festival like atmosphere remained lively.
As the weekend grew closer and seeding was underway, some wet and sloppy Tassie conditions made sure that all riders had to tackle some tough conditions on course. Mud tires were adorned by some in an effort to nail faster times with some success, whilst others stuck with the dry tires and tried to pilot their mud-clad bikes across the line.
Local rider / trail builder and Nukeproof gun Dan Booker took the hot seat in the Elite Men’s category on seeding day, looking set to be the favourite come race day. Sian A’Hern was looking good in seeding as she had all week in practice, stamping her place at the top of the Elite Women’s seeding list in the super sloppy conditions.
As the sun rose on race day a misty morning provided an eerie start to the day before the sun started to rise and the mist burnt off providing some dry conditions on track. As Practice went on in the morning conditions continued to improve, even some blue sky started to peak through the clouds. Race start was not until after 1:30pm meaning there was plenty of time for the trail to dry out and some hero dirt to be had for the main event.
The Elite Men’s category was hotly contested with some big names, fast riders and young guns gracing the top ten. In fifth place was young gun Luke Meier-Smith, fourth place went to Baxter Maiwald, Dean Lucas strutted into third place and Tassie local Dan Booker managed to take out the second place spot. For the eighth time Troy Brosnan managed to take the win and National DH championship title, with a winning margin of over five seconds.
The Elite Women’s category saw some fast ladies grace the track and with Tracey Hannah now retired from DH racing, the title was up for grabs. Fifth place was taken out by Laura Craft, Shelly Flood slotted into fourth place, Harriet Burbidge-Smith finished in third place and Cassie Voysey stepped into second place. The National flag sleeve and champion jersey went to Sian A’Hern by over 20 seconds in end, a time that showed that she is certainly a force to be reckoned with in Women’s Downhill.
1st Remy Meier-Smith
2nd Ollie Davis
3rd Lee Witzerman
1st Ellie Empey
2nd Lia Ladbrook
3rd Ashley Weinert
The 2021 Cross Country Nationals proved to be a challenging race with a course that included a just under 300m of climbing per lap and totaling 4.9km, on some technically challenging terrain. The Elite Men were to complete 6 laps of the course, U23 Men 4 laps and Under 19 3 laps; the Women’s categories were to complete one less lap than their corresponding Men’s category.
Race day meant super muddy conditions for XCO competitors on Saturday and what was already a challenging course, became all that more difficult. The U23 men’s category saw Sam Fox dominate the field and take the National Championship for 2021 in a deciding fashion, showing everyone his future is bright. The U23 Women’s category was won by Katherine Hosking with some testing conditions and the top three riders remaining unchanged for most of the race.
The Elite Men’s title was won by Dan McConnell, five minutes ahead of former DH and EWS star Jared Graves, a man who has built a life from riding mountain bikes. The McConnell’s completed the sweep with Bec McConnell taking the win in the Elite Women’s field, making this her eighth consecutive National XCO title. A challenging course and challenging conditions led to one very memorable XCO national Championships.
As the sun set over the hills of Maydena there were many a beer being poured, many a tale being told and many a smile to be had. All in all it was an extremely successful event held at arguably Australia’s premier bike park. With the growth of mountain biking in Tasmania and the sheer number of stellar locations to ride, it’s fair to say that many a rider may be happy to make the pilgrimage to Tassie to get their trail fix. National Champs was no different and proof that Maydena is the perfect location for large scale National event….