Oceania Games - CC

Sydney, Australia, December 8-16, 1999

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Mountain Bike - December 11, 1999

By Jeffrey Jones

Although the mountain bike events at the Oceania Games were not an official SOCOG Olympic test event, they were still important for Australia, who had the chance of qualifying an extra spot in next year's Olympic men's cross country event.

The venue was Fairfield city farm, in Sydney's west - the same as that to be used for the Olympics. The course is 6.9 km in length, and it is quite technical for the first half, but fairly open on the second half. It favours power riders over technical specialists, but still has a good "mix".

Women Cross Country

The women's event got away in the heat of the day, and it was certainly warm at 28 degrees C in the shade. Hydration was very important over the four laps of the event.

Early pace setter was Australia's Honi Geysen, who was keen to test herself over the course, without being too afraid to blow up. She had been testing with the Australian Institue of Sport all week, and admitted to feeling the effects of this, as well as the three day MTB Tour held last weekend, in Yass.

She was also testing a new crank, which did not give her her preferred gearing, but ultimately this didn't make a lot of difference. After taking the early lead, she faltered and it was New Zealand's road and MTB star, Suzy Pryde who passed her and powered away on the more open sections of the course.

Geysen could not do much more than try and hold on to second, as Pryde rode to a convincing victory. In third place was another Australian, Dellys Franke who also rode in last week's MTB Tour.

Afterwards, Geysen remarked that the course "did not really suit her style," which leant to the more technical side of things rather than the pure power fo someone like Pryde. However, she is only in her first year of training at the AIS (third competitive year) and hopes to improve come the Olympics.

Women - 4 laps

1  Suzy Pryde (NZ)             1.34.27

2  Hannneke Geysen (Aus)          2.09

3  Dellys Fanke (Aus)             3.59

4  Sadie Parker (NZ)              4.38

5  Lisa Savage (NZ)               8.55

6  Clare Baxter (Aus)             9.07

7  Sharon Harris (NZ)            14.05

8  Sarah King (NZ)               14.58

9  Robyn Wong (NZ)               15.20

10 Melanie McConnell (Aus)       16.09

11 Kimberly Ball (Aus)           18.39

12 Kellie Robinson (Aus)         20.39

13 Christina Sargent (NZ)        26.56

14 Lucy Topman (Aus)             1 lap

15 Kari Wickland (Guam)

16 Freya Johnstone (NZ)

17 Rebecca Cullen (NZ)           2 laps

   Brenda Clapp (NZ)             DNF

Men Cross Country

The six lap men's affair was somewhat more aggressive, with the main aim of the Australian team to get enough points to qualify for another Olympic spot. To do this, they had to finish three riders in the top 10, and have World Cup winner Cadel Evans amongst these. Their main competition were the New Zealanders, who also had a chance of performing well in the event.

However, it turned out to be a completely Australian dominated affair, with the Aussies claiming the top nine placings, with a lone Kiwi, Lawrence Mote in tenth spot.

The early pace was set by an Australian trio of Paul Rowney, Craig Gordon, and Rob Woods, who went clear of a group containing Cadel Evens, Luke Stockwell and Matthew Wallace on the first lap.

The race slowly distintegrated, with Rowney and Woods dropping Gordon just over the halfway point. On the last lap, Woods crashed leaving Rowney by himself, but he chased and caught back on. However, the effort was too much and Rowney attacked with 3 km to go to take the win. With it, and the remaining Australian placings, the team did their job to gain the extra Olympic spot.

For his part 29 year-old Rowney was pleased but not ecstatic, understandably. It is early in the season, and there is still a lot of work to do before the Olympics. "It was faster than the World Cup race here earlier on this year, but the course was not as soft," he said.

"I thought I could get the win, and it's nice as always, but it doesn't mean a huge amount at this time of year. The course suits me and I'm now going to really focus on the Olympics - just to ride and maybe play a team role would be great," he said.

Cadel Evans looked a little out of breath at the finish, but was still able to spare a few words: "I've been on holiday for six weeks, with no bike riding, so this was pretty hard. I've done what I had to to get Australia the extra position, and I'm pretty happy with that."

"I'm going to ease into training now, with my big goal next year's Olympics. I'll still do the World Cup races, but my focus will shift to try and peak in September," he said.

On the road? "Not next year, unless Saeco want me to ride a few races - I rode as a stagiaire with them this year. But, in 2001 I'll have another think about it."

Men - 6 laps

1  Paul Rowney (Aus)           1.58.30

2  Rob Woods (Aus)                0.39

3  Craig Gordon (Aus)             1.13

4  Matthew Wallace (Aus)          3.31

5  Luke Stockwell (Aus)           5.02

6  Cadel Evans (Aus)              5.44

7  Paul Redenbach (Aus)           7.43

8  Rhys Pollock  (Aus)            8.20

9  Simon Bishop (Aus)             9.51

10 Lawrence Mote (NZ)            10.11

11 Paul Bishop (NZ)              11.14

12 Duncan Palmer (NZ)            11.47

13 Chris Snow (NZ)               12.30

14 Bryce Shapely (NZ)            16.51

15 Dean Hill (NZ)                17.04

16 Paul Struthers (NZ)           23.36

17 Steve Bale (NZ)               24.45

18 Martial Devillers (NCal)     1 lap

19 Jazy Garcia (Guam)           2 laps

20 Olivier Bonnace (NCal)       3 laps

21 Tim Bennett (Aus)

22 Bryce Shapely (NZ)

23 Art Guerrero (Guam)

24 Albert Juan (Guam)           4 laps

25 Kevin Perez (Guam)

26 John Ilao (Guam)

27 Julian Cooper-Nurse (Guam)

28 Jeremy Houltham (NZ)          DNF

29 Karl McLean (NZ)              DNF