• Dan McConnell wins the 2016 XCO national title (MTBA)Source: MTBA
Australian Cross Country stars Dan McConnell (VIC) claimed his fifth and Rebecca Henderson her third straight national XCO title at the 2016 Subaru Australian MTB Championships at Bright, Victoria on Saturday.
Cycling Central

20 Mar 2016 - 12:51 PM  UPDATED 21 Mar 2016 - 12:19 PM

McConnell took the green and gold stripes in 1 hour 37 minutes and 51 seconds ahead of NSW's Cameron Ivory (1 hour 39 minutes and 38 seconds) and Kyle Ward (1 hour 39 minutes and 56 seconds). 

McConnell said this result is a strong start to a big year that includes the Olympics and the World Cup in Cairns next month. 

“That one is pretty high I think to come here and get a national title hopefully can set myself up for a good year," McConnell said.

“Today is the best I've felt in a long time, and it was great to feel such smoothness on the bike.”

McConnell produced 4 sub 20-minute laps around the course. The 31-year-old was too strong for Ivory and Ward despite their efforts to work together.  

“He’s really strong. He pulled away on the second climb of the first lap and we never saw him again,” said Ivory who is aiming for the second spot with McConnell on the Australian Olympic team to go to Rio.

Rebecca Henderson (ACT) stunned again taking her third straight XCO title on Saturday.

Henderson build an unbeatable lead from the first lap, increasing her speed in the second with a time of 22 minute and 58 seconds. She finished in 1 hour 34 minutes and 33 seconds, her nearest rival Peter Mullens (VIC) 1 minute and 12 seconds behind. 

“The green and gold is something you don’t want to let go of that easy,” Henderson said. 

“For me I race pretty similar and I like to go out pretty hard I was just able to get a lucky break from Peta on one of the early climbs, and I just took that advantage.”



Mullens knew from the gun staying with the reigning champion would be hard as well as battle Jenni King (VIC) for second spot. 

“I knew straight away on the start loop that my legs didn’t have it. I think as a bike rider you kind of know early on and I tried to put that aside and just power on as much as I can but she just had the better of me by far.”

Mullens held off King on the final gap maintaining a 19 second gap for second. 

“It was bloody hard I gave it everything to try and stick with Peta mid-way and she broke me on the second last lap,” King said.