Aussie downhillers beat world's best in Thredbo
Day One - Osprey All-Mountain Assualt
The field was stacked, the track long and the weather was hot –the first event of the Thredbo Cannonball MTB Festival, the Osprey All Mountain Assault, certainly took it to the riders.
The field of close to 600 riders had a great mix of women and men, amateurs, pros, young pinners and master riders. They lined up at the top of the Gunbarrel Express around 1790m above sea level for the 7.5km, 450 vertical metre descent to the village.
Kicking off his summer training and racing campaign men’s pro Josh Carlson took the win in a scorching 10:24:95 edging out 2016 and 2017 winner Ben Forbes by 4 seconds, with Tim Eaton flying into third. Racing up in elite 17 year old Kye A’hern took fourth place.
“The course was hard to predict – that’s a long run and there’s enough altitude here to take your breath away. You just have to pace yourself. I was so glad to see a gravity finish to the race this year,” said Carlson.
In the pro women’s Sian A’Hern took the win at 11:35, only seconds ahead of Em Parkes with New Zealand Enduro rider Rae Morrison in third.
“That was fun, I pushed the whole way down as hard as I could, the climbing was tough, I’m a downhiller, not a climber” joked Sian.
The action stepped it up a gear Friday with a feast of festival action on both sides of the mountain. The sun was shining and as the temperatures soared, the track dried fast and the dust whipped up.
The Commencal Australian Open Downhill boasts the biggest pay day for any downhill race in Australia, and all eyes were on the hefty list of mountain bike superstars to see how well they would get to know the 3.5km distinctly Australian track.
It's a 3.5km 370 vertical metre race starting at the top of the Kosciuszko Express, it takes in the famous fire road, before entering the technical descent to the village and big waiting crowd.
All week the weather was hot, fine and sunny but come late morning on race day 5mm of rain dropped across the track.
The showers added a tacky layer to the dirt giving most categories prime track conditions, but as the pro men were set to jump the rain settled in, holding up racing until the storm passed.
It was an all-star line up in the pro men’s with the waiting crowd keen to see how the world’s best handled the slippery Aussie track. Troy Brosnan (above) made the most of the conditions, sliding into top spot making it a four-peat, this win makes Brosnan the most decorated Australian Open Downhill winner. He rode the course in 5:30, just a pedal stroke ahead of Australian Harry Bush with French rider Loris Vergier in third.
“It was a really muddy race, it was hard to keep pushing and going hard. I had a good run but it was tough. To race in the wet with so many fast guys here and win, I’m wrapped” said Brosnan.
In the pro women’s it was a great welcome back to Thredbo for Tracey Hannah (below), taking the win in a 5:52, around five seconds ahead of Sian A’Hern and local Tegan Molloy who rounded out the podium.
“So good to spend the week here, I’ve missed it so much. I haven’t been for a while so to be able to chill in the off-season and come to this race is awesome, I loved every minute” said Hannah.
After six years of the Australian Downhill, the record books still show that only two people have won the event in both the men’s and women’s categories. Troy Brosnan and Andrew Crimmins have four and two wins respectively. Local rider Tegan Molloy and Tracey Hannah now share equal wins in the women’s category.