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Australian MTB Championships - CN
Eildon, Victoria, February 27-29, 2004
Day 1 - February 27: Four-cross
Hannah and Llanes claim first titles
By Mikkeli Godfree
The Australian National Championships kicked off today with the 4X. With ex-world 4X champion, Wade Bootes (Trek), and South California's Tara Llanes (Giant - Pearl Izumi) in attendance, the racing was going to be top quality.
After an initial cull which decided a final 16 riders, both Bootes and Llanes emerged with clean runs while top Aussie favourites stacked into the finals. The early races were not without incident though with regular crashes and ex-world cup DH champ Nathan Rennie having to jump a fallen rider to win his way through to the finals.
With the drought fairly apparent up here at Eildon, the course was an absolute dustbowl, coating everyone in dust from head to toe. By the time the finals came around the course was still in good condition but it was getting pretty loose.
In the women's final, Tara Llanes emerged first from the first corner as 15 year old Tracy Hannah took a big spill and was out of it. Llanes never looked back and posted her fastest run to take out the national title. The Californian was happy with her run and moreover at the quality of racing over here in Australia, "It is great racing and there are some fast girls out there, especially Tracy Hannah, for her age, she is quick!"
With a superstar line up in the men's final of Jarred Rando (Giant - Pearl Izumi, Wade Bootes, Mick Hannah (Haro) and Luke Madill (GT), it was going to be a rough-and-tumble start. An early jump from Bootes ruffled the ex-world champ's feathers and he moved down on Madill, who hit the deck after bouncing off Rando. Bootes came through unscathed but couldn't beat Hannah to the first corner, while Rando was gathering his composure to round in third.
The race was truly between Bootes and Hannah though as the latter scorched the course with a clear path in front of him. Bootes threw everything at Hannah but couldn't get close enough to make a move and Hannah came through for a solid win over Bootes, who really had seemed unbeatable all day.
Hannah was ecstatic, saying after his win, "that was awesome, I had an awesome start. The others came together but I had the inside line and I was outta there!" Bootes was full of praise for Hannah and noted that "on such a fast course, after Mick got through the corner first, he was just too hard to catch."
Madill, who came of worst out of the bingle at the start gate, was not to unhappy.
"It was tough at the start - there was just too many people fighting for the one line."
The 4X was really well attended this year, both in terms of the start-list and the crowd. With some amazing skills on show half-way through the afternoon with the jump comp (won by U19 freak Brokov) the crowd were wowed all afternoon. And although the crowd were really stoked to see Mick Hannah take the win over the seemingly unbeatable Bootes, all were happy that the US-based 4X legend had come to contest his national titles - Mick was for sure!
Images by Mikkeli Godfree/Cyclingnews.com
Elite Men 1 Mick Hannah (Haro) 2 Wade Bootes (Trek) 3 Jarred Rando (Giant-PI) Elite Women 1 Tara Llanes (Giant-PI) 2 Fionn Griffiths (Foes) 3 Indy Boers U19 Men 1 Ezra Bartholdt 2 David Page 3 Darren Pokoj