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Brindabella Challenge - NE
Canberra, ACT, December 3, 2005
Hatton a cut above the rest as Barnes surprises in women's race
By Jeff Jones in Cotter Reserve
With over two and half minutes to second placed Dylan Cooper, and much bigger margins to the top five, 22 year-old Sydneysider Peter Hatton (Clarence St Cyclery) won the 55 km Brindabella Challenge mountain bike race. Hatton crossed the finish line in Cotter Reserve with plenty of time to savour his win as he completed the hilly but fast course in around two hours and twenty minutes.
The heavy rain that had plagued the organisers yesterday held off today, although it was cool and windy out on the course. "Yeah that was a good race," Hatton told Cyclingnews after crossing the line. "It was tough out there. I think because of all the rain, all the trails and surfaces were real boggy. Dylan was the same - he felt like he had a flat tyre all day and I thought my brakes were rubbing - it was just really slow. It got really cold too. I didn't want to slow down and cool down any more."
Riding on his brand new, twice-ridden Trek Top Fuel, Hatton was pleased with his time, saying that dry conditions would have made it even faster but adding, "The good thing was that on the descents the corners were really grippy."
Hatton is off to the USA to ride on the road for the Jittery Joe's team next season, which means mountain biking may take a back seat. "This is my last summer of being on the mountain bike I think," he said. "It will be secondary after this, but I'll always feel like a mountain biker." On his ambitions, he was unsure. "See what happens. Hopefully get over to Europe or something like that would be great. I don't know whether I'll enjoy being a pro yet. We'll see."
Second placed Dylan Cooper had plenty to spare over third place getter Brent Miller, and described the race. "Pete was driving it from the start. We had a lot of dudes hanging on that we knew wouldn't be there at the end, so he was just smashing it and caused a lot of splits in the bunch. So it was Pete and Brent (Miller) for a while, then I was with another dude for just the first bit, then I ended up on my own for the rest of it, so it looked like Pete dropped Brent pretty early as well and was on his own."
Cooper was a little surprised by a 60cm deep creek crossing near the end. "I went into it and I thought I'd better go into it at speed so I don't get swept off. I ended up submerged in the water. You had to lift your bike out, otherwise it just got waterlogged. You ended up soaked, but at least it cleaned our bikes, which was good," he chuckled.
Not so lucky was one of the pre-race favourites, Shaun Lewis, who punctured with around 3 km to go, lost his tube, and ended up running to the finish, still well inside the top 20. "I punctured before the last creek crossing," he explained. "I got the tube off the rim and I went to grab a spare and the bag was open. The tube had dropped on the course somewhere..."
Things didn't go completely smoothly for the men, as the leaders went off course very early on and had to bush-bash to get back onto the trail. It may have added a bit of distance, but Peter Hatton took it all in his stride.
Rosemary Barnes was the best of the female riders, completing the course in a sub-three hour time to head home Niki Fisher. Barnes was a little surprised, but very happy with her effort that saw her claim the $500 first prize. She dropped Fisher after 10 km, and did the rest of the race on her own.
"I was trying to stay together so we could work together and make it easy for us, but there was nowhere to draft for the first half of the course really," said Barnes, who started several minutes behind the men. As such, she caught plenty of the 260 starters to finish in the top 20 overall.
"It was good because I didn't know the course much and so there were plenty of people to follow the whole way round and people to talk to. It was pretty freezing in bits. You were all wet, and then you were going down pretty fast hills and my toes are still numb. That river crossing at the end wasn't much fun."
The 23 year-old said that she "used to race mountain bikes when I was 11, then I stopped because there were no other girls doing it. I had a pink, steel Repco - a girl's bike. And then I started road pretty seriously when I was an under 17. Then I got sick so I stopped, and I've been at Uni for the last five years. Now I haven't been sick and I haven't been at Uni so I'm riding a lot faster!"
Elite men 1 Peter Hatton (Clarence St Cyclery) 2 Dylan Cooper 3 Brent Miller Elite women 1 Rebecca Barnes 2 Niki Fisher