‘Dry, dusty, sandy’: CX National Series set for killer start at Zombie Park  

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“Dry, dusty, sandy. It’s Zombie Park, but not as we know it.”

That’s the inside word from Gemma Kernich, the chief course planner of rounds 1 and 2 of the 2024 AusCycling CX National Series kicking off at Adelaide’s Zombie Park this weekend.

It’s not going to be the usual mud pit that greets riders at the course, Kernich says.

“It hasn't rained really at all in Adelaide for four months.”

For the first time in a number of years, Australia’s best cyclo-cross riders will descend on the iconic course GS Kingston Park, known colloquially as Zombie Park due to its proximity to the West Terrace Cemetery.

While it hosted the Australian CX National Championships in 2016 and 2017, it hasn’t been used as a race course by host club Port Adelaide Cycling Club since before 2020, according to CX Down Under.

Aside from the drier conditions expected for this weekend’s racing, CX National Series director Tom McQuillan gave an insight into one of the key features of the course.

“The star of the show is ‘The Swing Tree’, a downhill hairpin with a tree on the inside of the corner that forces a difficult dismount, a rapid change of direction as riders grab the tree to swing themselves uphill, and a running sprint to the top of the hill to remount,” he said.

The Swing Tree at Zombie Park during the CX National Championships in 2017. Photo: @ogaram
The Swing Tree at Zombie Park during the CX National Championships in 2017. Photo: @ogaram

Check out the course map here.

Who to watch

Some of the biggest names of the Australian cyclo-cross scene will be lining up to race in the elite men and women fields.

The elite men’s field will see the 2023 CX national champions Christopher Aitken (elite) Tristan Nash (U23) and Sam Northey (Junior) go head-to-head.

Aitken expects racing to be hard and fast.

“With the current weather forecast for dry conditions we shall be in for some fast and entertaining racing across all categories. I’m also looking forward to seeing the up-and-coming juniors going head to head in some of the days earlier events,” he said.

Young guns Finn Kane and Max Hobson who both competed for the ARA Australian Cycling Team at the 2024 UCI World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic with Northey, will also be looking to get their series off to a strong start.

Keep an eye also on the consistent veteran Gary Millburn, who raced his 5th world championships in Tabor, and finished 3rd at last year’s national championships in Ballarat.

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Gary Millburn competing at the 2024 UCI CX World Championships in Tabor.

In the elite women’s race, eyes will be on 2023 national champion Katherine Hosking who will be wearing the green and gold stripes, and silver medallist Miranda Griffiths, who had some impressive wins during last year’s national series to finish second overall behind Bec Locke.

"I am very excited to be heading to Adelaide, I've heard it is always a good event, and pretty solid field usually attend," Hosking said.

"I think last year I was definitely a bit of an underdog, so I am expecting this year to be a bit different, there's no more hiding. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend all 3 series this year, but I will definitely give the ones I attend a solid crack."

Fiona Morris, who also raced at the 2024 world championships in Tabor, is always a strong competitor, while 2022 U23 national champion and local South Australian Talia Simpson is another young gun who could be at the pointy end.

See the full start list here.


Find out more about the six-round 2024 AusCycling CX National series here.

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