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UCI Oceania Mountainbike Championships Final Wrap
22 Mar, 2010
The final day of UCI Oceania Mountainbike Championship action has been completed today at the Signal Hill venue in Dunedin. The third of the feature events, the Downhill was staged today with the Short Track Cross Country race taking place between Downhill morning qualifying and afternoon racing.

The first titles claimed today were in the Short Track Cross Country event - a short and brutal multi-lap event around a 900m race course adjacent to the Downhill event village. The Women were the first to race in their 20 minute event, and it was clear from the start that Palmerston North's Fiona McDermid had a point to prove with her aggressive riding at the front of a keen pack. McDermid made her way to the front early, and held a slender lead throughout which covered the attacks of Nic Leary (Rotorua) and the rest of the fading Women's field. At the three quarter stage of this race, McDermid's constant pressure at the front broke the rest of the field and she went on to win with a clear margin.

The Mens Short Track race was a quite different story. Six riders swapped the lead at the front right through to the bell lap and the finish. It was never clear who would break free until riders finally crossed the line after the 25 minute race, with the entire race a pure tactical duel between some very experienced racers and three Juniors. Mark Lieshman (Rotorua) was the one rider who maintained a clear racing line through the final corners and to the finish to take the win, a bike length in front of Mathew Waghorn (Fielding) who backed up from his Cross Country Championship win the day before.

The Downhill race was under way immediately after the Short Track finished. Tension built right through all age group categories in the lead-up to the Under 19 and Elite events. The Senior Mens race bought back to the top step of the podium a well experienced racer, Reon Boe (Queenstown) who has returned to National level competition after a break of several years. Boe was a popular winner of the senior Mens title, as was Madeline Taylor (Napier) in the Open Women returning after a two month injury enforced break. The Under 19 Oceania title race was keenly anticipated by the large crowd as a strong Australian squad were contesting this year, however George Brannigan (Hastings) was not to be denied at Signal Hill and raced a clean run to win by nearly three seconds from Oamaru's Jed Rooney. The best of the Australian squad in this category was young Troy Brosnan (Adelaide) who lived up to the promise he has shown through the Australian domestic competition this summer with a third.

The Elite categories were next on the menu. Harriet Harper (Blenheim) had mechanical issues during qualifying and as a result was first woman off the start line. Harper posted a stunning time to lay seige to the leader's hot seat, which she never relinquished as rider after rider crossed the line. Like Brannigan, Harper achieved a rare feat with her victory - both athletes dual 2010 National and Oceania champions after earlier this month both winning the National Championships in Wellington. Sarsha Huntington (Brisbane) provided the best of the Australian challenge with a third.

In the Mens Elite race NZ's best athletes were all on hand competing for the Oceania title together with a strong Australian presence led by Brisbane's Rhys Willemse. Cameron Cole (Christchurch) had qualified fastest, but any one of the well regarded field were capable of putting down the perfect run to take the podium top step. NZ's highest ranked rider Justin Leov had qualified in the top ten, but front punctured in the Signal rock garden and his much anticipated challenge was over. First Glenn Haden (Wanganui) then Kieran Bennett (Nelson) held the leaders hot seat for a long spell, until the last three riders on course displaced Bennett and then each other with quicker race times. None of the final three were given the chance to settle in that leader's seat however, as the last starter on the hill Cole turned out a stunning race time to take the Oceania Championship title.

Cole's victory bought to a close the 2010 Oceania Mountainbike Championships after a very full four days of competition and six different events. Host club Mountainbike Otago were extremely happy with the way the event had been delivered, with similar sentiments echoed by the national body Mountainbike New Zealand. The 2011 Oceania Championships are scheduled for Australia, at a yet to be determined venue.

Short Track Cross Country Results
Open Women
1 Fiona McDermid (Palmerston North); 2 Nic Leary (Rotorua); 3 Katherine O'Neill (Rotorua)

Open Men
1 Mark Leishman (Rotorua); 2 Mathew Waghorn (Fielding); 3 Mike Northcott (Tokoroa)
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