Australian Cyclocross Championships 2014/15
Posted by auscxmag
Posted in News
words: auscxmag photography: ridingfocus
The 2014 Australian National Cyclocross Championships were held in Adelaide on Saturday under sunny winter skies. The cloudless sky was a welcome sight after the rain, wind and occasional hail of the days leading up to race day.
Cyclocross has seen rapid growth in Australia over the last few years and it was on show with more than 150 competitors over various elite and age categories on the day set to compete on a fast course set up in the parklands off South Terrace Central Adelaide known to locals as the ‘Forest of Doom’. Course designer Neil Ross had designed a course he hoped would encourage close and potentially tactical racing. The course included Mulch Hill which had featured in previous years, as did the fast long straights within the parkland. For interstate visitors it was the first time the very muddy forest section was included in a national course and it was slippery enough that any mistake could cost valuable seconds in a race.
The first race of the day was the Masters Women’s Categories. Starting in waves it was Masters 30-39, then Masters 40-49 and then Masters 50+. As each wave went off each and every rider battled for position in the start straight. In the Masters 30-39 race local rider Jaclyn Schapel lead from the gun and never looked back claiming the first national championship for the local club. In the 40-49 category Port Adelaide Cycling Club’s ‘mistress of mud’ Gemma Kernich stamped her authority on the race winning the holeshot, before passing the entire Masters 30-39 field on her way to victory in her category giving the host club their second national title of the day. Not to be outdone by her more junior riders, Sharon Heap of Queensland started in the last wave of the race with the Masters 50+ women and proceeded to catch, pass and ride away from every rider in the entire race to be the first lady across the finish line.
Next to be called to the start line were the Under 23 Men, along with Men’s Masters 30-39 and Masters 40-49. The Under 23’s wave consisted of plenty of top performers including Tom Chapman and Chris Aitken. This would be one of the most hotly contested categories of the day. From the gun it was Tom Chapman who took control of the race with Ben Bradley Scott Bowden and Chris Aitken all in hot pursuit. The race ended up in a close finish with the first four riders finishing within five seconds of each other, but it was Tom Chapman who was crowned Under 23 champion with Scott Bowden second Ben Bradley third.
The Masters 30-39 race also had a strong field with many riders who would be backing up in elites the next day at the NCXS round. Racing was fast from the start and there were casualties from the opening lap until the finish. It was Victoria’s Matthew Gray who won with South Australian pair Josh Smith and Adrian Scott in second and third respectively.
The Masters 40-49 race had many competitors primed for a result including last year’s winner Danny Kah from Victoria. Danny Kah was denied back to back titles and had to settle for second place with Mark Mos claiming the Masters 40-49 title and Evan James third.
The final race before the elite races was the combined Under 19 men and Masters 50+. The Under 19’s had a strong start line with Victoria’s Liam Jeffries, NSW trio Nick Smith, Michael Potter and Tom Green along with Noah Barrow who goes to boarding school and races cyclocross America but made the trip home to Australia for the race. The riders spread themselves out over the first lap and it seemed that once spaced out their positions did not change. The pace of the race was blindingly fast for riders so young and it was Liam Jeffries who claimed first with Michael Potter second and Nick Smith third. In the Masters 50+ race Craig Peacock rode a strong race to take the win with Patrick Denis second and Les Heap third.
In the elite women’s race defending champion Lisa Jacobs (Apollo/health.com.au) lined up against current National series leader April Mcdonough (iRide Bicycles), world championship representative Melissa Ansett (Flanders-Nemisis) and South Australian local favourite Terri Rhodes (Exact Mining/Giant Bikes).
Lisa Jacobs lead the field from the beginning of the race with a chase group consisting of McDonough, Rhodes and Ansett and Josie Simpson (Park Trent Properties) close behind. By lap two of the six lap race Jacobs had taken control and was in front on her own with Rhodes and McDonough chasing together after McDonough had recovered from a second lap visit to the pits for a rear puncture. Lisa Jacobs was not troubled for the remainder of the race and crossed the finish line almost two minutes ahead of the rest of the field to take her second national title. Terri Rhodes edged out April McDonough for second with an exciting two-up sprint and only half a wheel separating the two riders across the finish line.
A strong field of over 30 men took the start line including favourites to win the title Adrian Jackson (Exact Mining/Lappierre bikes), current national series leader Chris Jongewaard (Whippets workshop) and defending national champion Allan Iacuone (Rapha).
After a very fast start to the championship race that saw all competitors safely around the first corner it was Chris Jongewaard (Whippets workshop) in front aiming to ride away from the rest of the field, while defending champion Allan Iacuone (Rapha) had a terrible start slipping out of his pedal forcing a tough chase through the field on the first lap. A strong chase group formed consisting of eight riders including Jackson (Exact Mining/Lappierre bikes) and Iacuone who was under pressure to catch up if he was any chance of defending his title. Jongewaard progressively extended his lead over the one hour race and was able to win his first National Cyclocross Championship with a lead of more than 30 seconds. Allan Iacuone gave it everything in his chase finishing second with Paul Redenbach (Flanders-Nemisis) claiming third.
The 2014 Australian Cyclocross Championships was a successful day with Cycling Australia and Mountain Bike Australia thanking the Port Adelaide Cycling Club for hosting a wonderful event.
To view more wonderful photography of the day please take a look at the riding focus photo blog