Two-time Olympian Bec Henderson delivered in Saturday’s opening round of the Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) Cross Country Olympic (XCO) National Series at Kinross State Forest, finishing first, but she was made to work seriously hard on Sunday to earn a podium finish.
She did though, finishing second to round out a stellar weekend.
Henderson, from Canberra, came to Orange with no prior experience on the picturesque, speedy Kinross singletrack, but proceeded to blitz it anyway.
In Saturday’s first round on the shorter, punchier 4.7km loop, Henderson clocked 1.35.45 from five laps, finishing more than three minutes in front of second-placed Kathryn McInerney (1.38.46), with Eliza Kwan (1.39.47) finished third.
Henderson’s speed and consistency played massive parts in the win, she flew through the first three laps in under 19 minutes before clocking a tick over 19 in her final two circuits.
In Sunday’s second round she was made to work far harder and ultimately finished second behind Brisbane’s Anna Beck.
Beck clocked 1.40.02 over six laps of the longer, steeper 6km loop used on day two, and beat Henderson (1.40.10) to the line by eight seconds, with Kwan finishing third again in a time of 1.43.09.
Beck stayed strong in the final lap on Sunday too, with Henderson looming, gunning for a miracle finish.
The current national champion made up almost two minutes on Beck in the final lap, but the Queenslander pulled through.
“For three of the four laps I was cross-eyed and grovelling,” Henderson said via social media.
“Finally I found my legs on the final lap to pull back two minutes on the winner, just a few seconds shy of a semi-sprint finish.”
In the Expert division, Bre Sheppard beat out Rachel Cook on both days. The latter improved on the second day, cutting the deficit from four minutes to two.
Like Sheppard, Katerine Hosking claimed wins on both days in the Junior category. She beat out second-placed Olivia Nendick by about 10 minutes on both loops.
Zoe Cuthbert dominated the Under 17s, winning both days, while Arwen Crampton and Maizy Evans claimed wins in the Under 15s on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Poppy Pollock clocked 33.11 in the one-lap Under 13s competition on Saturday, performing strongly while the Masters racers all rode with aplomb.