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2006 Commonwealth Games - JR
Melbourne, Australia, March 16-26, 2006
March 23: Womens cross-country mountain bike race
By Mal Sawford
Canada's Marie-Helen Premont demolished all opposition to win the women's cross-country mountain bike race at Lysterfield this morning. Premont led almost from the gun and never looked threatened by either of the chasing pair of Rosara Joseph (New Zealand) or Kiara Bisaro (Canada) in very warm conditions.
Australia's Dellys Starr attacked strongly at the start, but pre-race favourite Premont simply sat on her wheel till her initial burst of energy faded, and moved into the lead before the end of the short starting loop. Once in the lead, the Canadian stayed there for the remainder of the 38km race over six laps of the 6.4km Lysterfield course, eventually taking the win by close to a minute and a half.
Premont was a picture of control as she rode alone for the entire race, but revealed afterwards things hadn't been quite as straightforward as she made them appear. "It was very hot and the drink I had was too sweet, [but] when I started to get water, I started to feel better. I usually like the heat, but I like the heat at home. This was really hot! This was my first race for the year so I'm happy with my form as I didn't know how it would go here. I'm happy with a gold medal."
The Canadian also had a close call with some of the native fauna: "I was surprised to see a kangaroo jump out in front of me. So I was a bit insecure after that but it was ok. I hope I get a good picture of it!"
Some of the international riders had been a little critical of the ‘no'-technical' course in the lead up to the race [although virtually all the competitors, both men and women, took a tumble at some stage during the race], but Premont wasn't overly concerned. "It was a nice course. I would have preferred more climbing but it was my first race so I enjoyed it."
Behind Premont, the main interest was the race for silver between Joseph and Bisaro. The duo moved past Starr early in the first lap, and then battled for ascendancy until the final lap. Bisaro was clearly more comfortable on the descents and technical sections of the course, and was able to make up any lost ground to Joseph on the uphill sections of the course.
On the final lap, Joseph poured on the power on the final climb, opening a gap Bisaro could not close by the finish. Bisaro later admitted that Joseph had simply been too strong. "I really enjoyed the course. I usually like a more technical course. My battle with Rosaro was not much of a battle at all. I saw her coming on the third lap and that was when I was really feeling it. She just came past me. I tried to stay with her, but she was too strong."
Starr finished the best of the locals, although after holding down fourth place for the majority of the race, she faded slightly and saw Amy Hunt (England), the youngest rider in the race at just 19 years old move past and crossed the line in fifth position. "It was a very deceiving course." Starr said. "If you just roll around, it seems easy, but at full pace it's very hard. On the fast section if you make a little mistake it's over! It was awesome to hear the crowd. I had a big support crew out there. School friends came out of the woodworks to cheer me on."
Starr's brother died recently in a light aircraft accident, and naturally her thoughts turned to him during the day. "Of course I was thinking about my brother, but I know he would be proud of me if he were here."
Of the other Australians, 37 year old former AIS physiotherapist Emma Colson finished in 7th position, and was reasonably happy with her efforts. "I'm reasonably happy with my ride. I was within 10 percent of Premont's time which is a really good personal achievement for me. At World Cups last year I only reached within 17 percent. I didn't feel like I had a blinder though, and I guess that's a little bit disappointing, but I don't think that if I had it would have got me on the podium.
"It was a tough race. The girls went really hard from the start and I have trouble starting. When I heard last night that they'd lengthened the race I was happy and I thought I might have been able to bring back some time at the end. I lost contact with the group at the bottom of the rock garden. I had a bit of a spin out and unclipped. Maybe if that hadn't have happened, I would have stayed with them a bit longer, but they probably would have ridden away from me later anyway!"
The other Aussie, Claire Baxter, had a disastrous morning. Gear trouble at the all important start saw her drop into last place before the start of the first single track section, before she fell heavily in the rock garden. Baxter lost more time trying to get her bike rideable after the impact and was forced to carry her bike to the first tech zone, and was eventually lapped by the leaders in the closing stages.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Gunter/www.pbase.com/gunterphotograph
Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com
Images by Rob Jones/www.canadiancyclist.com
Images by CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net
1 Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) 1.55.04 2 Rosara Joseph (New Zealand) 1.27 3 Kiara Bisaro (Canada) 2.55 4 Amy Hunt (England) 6.29 5 Dellys Starr (Australia) 7.08 6 Robyn Wong (New Zealand) 7.32 7 Emma Colson (Australia) 11.03 8 Sonia Foote (New Zealand) 14.28 9 Myra Moller (Cook Islands) 16.29 10 Ruth McGavigan (Scotland) 18.43 11 Claire Baxter (Australia)