• (Top L clockwise) Logan Martin, Bec McConnell, Lauren Reynolds, Troy Brosnan. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
We take a look at the top non-road performances by Australian cyclists in what was a tumultuous 2021 season of competition for the nation’s top cyclists.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

15 Nov - 10:42 AM 

This list is just looking at the non-road top showings of 2021, if you want to check out a similar list including all the highlights available on SBS On Demand, check out this compilation of the top Australian road cyclists.

Best Australian cyclists on the road for 2021
It was a mixed year for Australian riders tackling the top races around the world, with the emergence of new stars, while the established ones experienced some rollercoaster seasons.

Logan Martin

There’s no topping a gold medal at the Olympics and Logan Martin was in another world when he won the BMX Freestyle gold in Tokyo. He won it with his first, more conservative run, meaning that his second run was done with the assurance of victory, meaning that it was a celebration of his skill and verve at the top of the sport.

Full highlights from the 2021 BMX World Championships.

We got to see Martin and the Australian Cycling Team in action on SBS On Demand at the world championships where Martin also won gold. That was where he debuted the bike flip that wowed the world and judges and he also talked through his run in an interview with SBS Cycling Central.

Logan Martin talks through the world championships winning run.

Jack Moir

Jack Moir’s impressive overall season performance – including five race wins – earned him the overall 2021 Enduro World Series Championship. The Australian took first place with 4520 season points, finishing ahead of Richie Rude after a tight tussle throughout the season.

“The season was insane! It was a super tight back and forth battle with Richie every round," said Moir. "On top of this, I faced so much adversity, from food poisoning on a race weekend, to popping out my shoulder and mid-race mechanicals. This made it that much sweeter though!” 

Troy Brosnan

Downhill star Troy Brosnan started off his season at the Leogang World Cup event with a bang, winning the opening World Cup event. From there, he was rarely far from the top of the podium, finishing second at Crankworx Innsbruck and also runner-up at the final World Cup event in Snowshoe.

However, the highlight will be his bronze medal at the World Championships, in the hunt for gold just under half a second off winner Greg Minaar.

Full replay of the 2021 MTB DH World Championships.

Lauren Reynolds

Over to BMX racing now and the top performer of the year was Reynolds, who made the finals of both the Olympics and the World Championships finishing fifth in each. With the World Championships coming hot on the heels of the Olympics, there were some scores to settle among the top contenders smarting from Tokyo.

“The build-up of the delayed games and the emotions involved meant I felt emotionally exhausted after the games however once race week came around for the Worlds, I was jumping out of my skin to race again,” said Reynolds after the final. “The hunger was there."

"I hoped for a little higher than fifth however I hold my head high, fifth in the Olympics and the Worlds after not making a Worlds final in four years, that's a great feeling."

The replay of the women's final in the 2021 BMX World Championships.

Izaac Kennedy

21-year-old BMX racer Kennedy was another that shone at the 2021 BMX World Championships, finishing seventh in the final, but as the youngest man in the final with a number of very strong performances in the earlier rounds, the signs bode well for the future.

"Elite main at the worlds was a goal so was happy to make that happen,” said Kennedy. “Probably my worst lap of the day, so I was pretty frustrated with that but was a great feeling lining up at the gate with the fastest guys in the world who all want to win. I love those nerves before getting on the gate knowing what is on the line for this one lap. For sure motivates me to only get better."

The replay of the men's final from the 2021 BMX World Championships.

Bec McConnell

It’s a pity that so much focus falls on the Olympics each cycle because what was a poor result there for McConnell, overshadowed what was a superb season all-round for the Australian MTB high-performer.

The 30-year-old won bronze medals at consecutive world championships, in Canada in 2019 and in Austria last year, and then was again consistent at the top of the standings in each race as she took four podiums on the UCI World Cup races throughout the year. Spain was also a happy hunting ground for the Canberran as she won twice in the Superprestigio MTB, finishing second twice in the Copa Catalana Internacional BTT.

The 2021 World Championships in Val de Sole, broadcast on SBS, was a fascinating race, with McConnell active throughout as she battled to 10th place on the day.

Full Replay from the women's cross country at the 2021 MTB World Championships.

Men's Team Pursuit Squad

In recent years, there has been a precipitous drop in the times for the team pursuit discipline and the Australian men's team has been part of that incredible plunge. They went into the Olympics as one of the favoured teams behind world record holders Denmark with plenty of optimism that they could win gold. 

That came crashing down as Alex Porter's handlebars snapped a kilometre into their qualifying run. They were able to restart that run, but the emotional and physical effort of the first performance saw them qualify fifth fastest, which ruled them out of the fight for gold. 

They rallied to take the bronze medal after New Zealand suffered their own crash in the 3rd-4th ride, the best they could manage after their qualifying disaster, with still an ongoing investigation by AusCycling into how such a failure could occur. 

Porter crashes mid-pursuit after Australian's bike falls apart
Australia’s men’s team pursuit hopes were dealt a significant blow on Monday after an equipment failure caused Alex Porter to crash in qualifying.

Honourable mentions

The tear-jerking story of 2021 went to Saya Sakakibara (BMX racing) who looked well on her way to the finals and a potential medal at the Olympics before being brought down from behind in a bizarre crash with Alise Willoughby. Sakakibara had the weight of riding for not just Australia on her shoulders, but her brother as well after Kai suffered from a crash that put him into a coma and saw the BMX star suffer brain damage.

After her crash, there was an emotional interview where Saya said that she felt that she’d let everyone down but that was far from the reality with many uplifted around the world by her perseverance despite the setbacks.

Natalya Diehm also fits into this category after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament during her first run at the Tokyo Olympics. Despite that, she went on to finish fifth overall, a stunning performance in the circumstance.

Brandon Loupos was the defending world champion heading into the 2021 BMX Freestyle World Championships as Australia tried to qualify two riders for the Olympics. Loupos was sending some massive tricks early in his first run but suffered a freak accident when he seemingly landed normally after another big air. 

He made a sad sight as he pulled up and collapsed in pain, the bad news confirmed later as Loupos had to undergo an ACL reconstruction. From a likely contender for gold in Tokyo to his couch - none of it his fault - is a bitter pill to swallow, but Loupos looks set to return to competition rather than retire.