• Rebecca Henderson (Supplied) (Russell Baker)Source: Russell Baker
Rounds 3 and 4 of the Subaru National MTB Series produced some blistering action in Pemberton, Western Australia on the weekend.
Cycling Central

25 Jan 2016 - 11:26 AM  UPDATED 25 Jan 2016 - 11:50 AM

Henderson holds field hostage, twice

Rebecca Henderson's first win in the series was so good, she did it twice, taking out the round 3 and 4 double-header.

On Saturday, she finished the five lap race in 1:44:18 ahead of New Zealand's Samara Sheppard and series leader Jenni King in third.

“Definitely great to get a win which was back to racing my style which I like to go pretty hard pretty early and find my place from there.  My ride I couldn’t fault it. As for my form I’m still building and don’t plan to peak until March, April and of course August (for Rio later in year)," she said.

Series leader King said on Saturday she struggled.  

“The girls really put on a hot pace and it takes me a little while to warm up which hurt me a bit,” said King.

Sheppard capitalised on King's pain making claiming her first podium finish of the series.

Yesterday in Round 4 on a shortened course of 4.5km, Henderson didn't have it all her own way. King and Sheppard put a 34 second gap into the rest of the field as Henderson tried to find her legs after the previous day's efforts.

“My legs were horrible on the early couple of laps, I tried to lead and I wasn’t foxing or bluffing that’s all I had, it definitely ested how much I love riding my bike,” she said. 

Finding herself in fifth position early on, Henderson reduced the gap to only eight seconds, making a decisive attack on the fourth lap. 

“I caught them in a single track and and I just knew I had to attack at my first opportunity because I was travelling a lot quicker and had to keep the momentum.  It’s a good show my form is definitely building to have that race speed especially in the later half of the race is a good sign, I had to work extremely hard for that one it was as much a test of my character as much as my legs" said the 24-year-old rider. 

Henderson completed the fourth round in a time of 1:31:33 for her second victory of the weekend and setting up a fifth round showdown in Thredbo with King for the series lead. 

More of the same from McConnell 

Dan McConnell also claimed victory in rounds 3 and 4 to remain unbeaten in the 2015-2016 Subaru National MTB Series.  

In round 3, McConnell lay in fifth after lap one, with Cam Ivory leading the field.

“I just wanted to try something different this weekend and try and be a lot more aggressive and lead out if possible. When Dan came past me I just couldn’t hold him he’s just so strong,” Ivory said.

McConnell made that move in the second lap and led until the finish, crossing the line in a time of 1:43:00, ahead of Cam Ivory and Scott Bowden who filled out the minor placings.

Bowden impressed after moving up from fifth to his first podium place of the series.

“At the start I kind of wanted to go hard and I thought I was but the other guys were on fire and it took me each lap to come a bit stronger," he said. 

McConnell easily backed up to claim a fourth round win 24 hours later.

“Yesterday I came in a little bit fresh sort of took me a little bit to find my legs, but today they were on song. It’s always hard backing up after the first lap I felt fairly comfortable. I sort of worked my way into it and half way into it felt really good,” the 30-year-old said.

The field was bunched going into lap three but McConnell soon dropped the pack, producing his fastest lap of the day at 14min 27sec. Meanwhile, Ivory and Bowden battled for second place.

“I could see Cam ahead and once I caught him there wasn’t just respite he started going full gas and we really had a good battle then,” Bowden said.

But Bowden found another gear halfway through the fifth lap to move away and finish second 1min 13 sec behind McConnell.

Between now and the next round in Thredbo 5th February, McConnell will compete in the "7 Day Epic" Pioneer MTB Stage Race with New Zealand rival Anton Cooper.

“It should be pretty good training, cause we don’t get to have back to back races very often. Hopefully me and Anton can have a really good race next week and set our season up," he said.

For full results visit MTBA