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Commonwealth Games 2006

Melbourne - MTB Event

6 laps, State Mountainbike Course, Lysterfield

Games Website

Canada and New Zealand on podium


Marie-Helene Premont won the Womens Cross Country in decisive fashion at the event in the newly created State Mountain Bike Course at Lysterfield National Park. She did this despite narrowly avoiding a very large Southern Grey Kangaroo as it passed her path as she approached the boardwalks in the grassy spur area towards the half way point.  

As the race rolled out the Canadian followed the Australians and but this did not last for long. Premont powered past the Australians who led for the first few hundred metres. However after completing the first 900m loop before they headed out to the main part of the course Premont had already stated her position on the race. In the end she had extended her lead over the field to more than one minute and 27 seconds at the end of the six-lap event, finishing in a time of  one hour, 55 minutes and four seconds.

The Commonwealth gold adds to her silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics and gold at two world cup events last year. She also featured in the event in 2002 finishing fourth at Manchester.

The 28-year-old pharmacy student from Quebec led home New Zealander Rosara Joseph, who battled hard for the silver with Canadian Kiara Bisaro.

A notable performance came from the teenager Amy Hunt of England who finished fourth, at 19 she was the youngest contender in the field. Hunt and the England team management only made the decision for her to ride the event eight days before. The first of the Australian riders to finish, was National mountain bike champ, Dellys Starr, finishing fifth.

Local Victorian rider Emma Colson finished seventh, while the third Aussie in the field, Claire Baxter, struck trouble on the second lap, damaging her wheel after a fall.

The course included a number of switch back climbs and trails through the trees. It was deceptively technical at speed and had added challenges with the granite rock garden that included a roll over rock that dropped 45 degrees on the rock face and included a hard left turn at the bottom of the drop. Baxter was one of the few mechanical casualties at this point of the course. Bisaro suffered a flat tyre on the second lap, but was able to get a replacement wheel. 

The event was being run under new rules. In past events, if a rider had a mechanical fault they had to fix it themselves. However in this event a rider who suffered a problem and and was unable to fix the problem herself, could get to one of the technical zones along the course to get assistance. Unfortunately for Baxter, she was forced to carry/run with her bike to one of the three "technical zones" to get repairs made to her bike. The repairs cost Baxter several valuable minutes, dropping her back to last place, more than 10 minutes behind the eventual winner. If there was an award for the most unfortunate rider Baxter would have won this. She suffered further mechanical problems forcing her to run to the next technical zone to avoid losing too much time.

It looked like it was going to be a one, two for Canada until the end of the 3rd lap when in the fourth lap the eventual second-place rider Rosaro Joseph dug deep to pass Kiara Bisaro on the climb at the half way point on the course. Joseph, was 38 seconds behind Bisaro after two laps but narrowed the gap to 21 seconds at half-way and made her move on the fourth.

Joseph like all of the New Zealand riders came into the race with some good form, having won the recent Oceania mountain bike championships in Rotorua, New Zealand. Joseph, a Rhodes Scholar who graduated top of her class from the University of Canterbury with double degrees, will begin her Masters at Oxford in October this year.

The Canadian, Bisaro, held on for third place and was overjoyed to have completed the race.


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Post Race Comments  

WCN managed to get an immediate reaction to the win after Marie-Helene Premont had recalled her Kangaroo experience to her team management. I feel good it was first race this year so I wasnt sure how I would do. I am really happy. I got really scared and jumped when the Kangaroo passed me. It really surprised me I never expected to run into one. I was unnerved for a while as I was expecting another one to jump out.

Speaking about her performance and form she added I rode on the big chain ring for most of the race, and only dropped it down once. I like to power up the climbs and just go for it.

After receiving the Gold medal, Im delighted to win this medal. I found the course very fast and deceivingly technical when you are going fast. I liked the heat today but it was very warm, it is only one degree at home a the moment

Was the course technical enough? I would have preferred a more technical course but the this is the first race for me and dealing with the heat made it tough.

Reflecting on the teams performance and getting the Gold and Bronze she added Im happy we won gold along with the bronze, It was a team effort.

Asked, if she was disappointed that they did not have a full compliment of riders. (Lynn Bessette had to withdraw after dislocating her shoulder while training over the granite rocks). I would have been good for Lynn to be here, she would have done well on this course.  

Rosaro Joseph was asked if she was happy with her silver. Oh definitely, the Canadians are so strong and if you have a look at the world rankings, theyre ahead of me, so Im very happy today.

Talking about her race plan, I just kept plugging away, the weather was awesome, a little hot, that could have been in the Australians favour. I went out as hard as I could. In this type of course it was imperative to be in front on the narrow trails. You can get blocked easily so I just went out as hard as I could the whole way. I was a little panicky early and died a bit in the middle, but just came home strong.

Asked about falling while chasing Bisaro That was a bit of a mistake! I was focusing a little more on her (Bisaro) rather than on the track and that always a bit of a mistake.

Her views on the course It was a tough race, theres no breaks on this course and if youre riding fast its really quite technical.

Third place Kiara Bisaro found it hard in the warm conditions I found it hard going in the heat

As Bisaro croosed the line she hugged Premont and said It was so hot! Im so proud of you. (Premont) she said as she crossed the line. Premont responded Im proud of you.

Amy Hunt was pleased with her fourth place ride, It was tough for me. Im not an experienced mountain biker. I have not really ridden the mountain bike over the last year,  I would probably been a lot more comfortable if I had.

Dellys Starr (AUS) had a view on the race The crowd was fantastic, I also didnt have any problems with the heat. The field wasnt as big as I would have liked but the spectators were awesome and you would not have known the field was small there was such depth out there. The crowd just kept cheering as we went round.

About the new course when I first rolled around it I was a little disappointed on the technical side but when you race it I completely changed my mind. Its a really tough course. There are some really fast sections that as you become tired become more technical and really tough.

Clair Baxter  spoke about her unfortunate race I bent my derailleur hanger and I had chain stuck everywhere when crashed. I just started running, that was my fist 2km run and then it happened again. I didnt crash it just derailed and I ended up running another 4km. It was just not happening today. Its a fast course but not when you run it. 

Emma Colson was reasonably pleased with her ride my legs felt heavy all the way and I never felt like I was having a blinder. It may have been that I was just pushing as hard as I could or that I have never raced at that intensity. I pushed out consistent laps and made a couple of errors but I did the best I could.

Chatting about the course, it was actually a lot of fun to race. If you just ride round it it would be pretty boring but racing at high speed it was very exciting. On a personal level I was 10% off Premont time, I have been at 17% in the previous World Cups and that had been my best result so I am please.


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Time Behind



Marie-Helene Premont






Rosara Joseph






Kiara Bisaro






Amy Hunt






Dellys Starr






Robyn Wong






Emma Colson






Sonia Foote






Myra Moller






Ruth McGavigan






Claire Baxter




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