Rebecca Henderson (Primaflora Mondraker Genuins) and Sam Fox (Team Bridgelane) made it a double W at the opening two rounds of the 2023 AusCycling XCO National Series in Canberra.
Riders would face a dry and dusty Mt Stromlo for the opening round of the cross-country series with nearly 170 riders set to hit the start line across UCI and age categories.
In her first official race back since the end of the UCI MTB Season last year, Henderson wasted little time showcasing why she won three World Cup races last year.
With five laps to tackle, the current Australian champion relished racing on her home track and was able to negotiate every familiar rock drop and rock garden to her advantage.
She would cross in a time of 1:38:32.6 for the win.
Commonwealth Games silver medalist Zoe Cuthbert (Trek Shimano Australia) would finish second nearly three minutes behind with Katherine Hosking (Orbea Womens Racing) filling out the third podium step.
In the elite men a strong field lined up for their six laps of the Stromlo course.
Heavy hitters including Sam Fox, Daniel McConnell, Cameron Ivory and Brendan Johnston were all in the early lead pack.
When the breakaway would come it would see Fox and McConnell in a duel, before the later suffered a flat tyre giving Fox the opportunity to race away for the win.
McConnell would take silver with Ivory in third.
A sprint finish would decide the junior men, with Jack Ward getting his wheel across the line by the barest of margins ahead of Harry Doye and Cohen Jessen in third.
While Ruby Dobson had little resistance in the junior women taking the gold ahead of Katie Ramage and Maya Martin.
With a slight change to the Round 2 course, plenty of riders had their eyes on Brendan Johnston for a strong performance in the elite mens race.
But like a number of the big names, mechanicals and flat tyres would see their chances ebb away, including Saturday’s silver medalist Daniel McConnell.
There would be no issues for the Tasmanian Fox, as he claimed back-to-back wins, with Brent Rees in second and Dominic Paollili taking out the bronze.
Fox sounded a very ominous warning with the National Championships only two weeks away.
“I didn’t think we’d done a lot of intensity leading in so it’s a really good sign as I think there’s more to come,” he said.
It would be a similar story for the owner of Saturday's top step in the elite women, with Rebecca Henderson claiming a second gold across the weekend.
After trying to stick with the two-time world championship medalist in the early laps, Zoe Cuthbert would again have to settle for silver after the six lap grind.
Katherine Hosking crossed for third.
Jack Ward and Ruby Dobson ensured they remained unbeaten over the weekend in the Junior categories
Main Image: Hixit