There was undoubtedly a focussed vibe in Woodend VIC as riders arrived days early to ride parts of the Wombat100 course in preparation of Round #1 of the Real Insurance XCM Series. The Wombat100 is one of two iconic Australian mountain bike events hosted by Maximum Adventure, attracting over 2,500 participants annually.
A chilly autumn Victorian morning greeted the riders for an early 7am start at Cammaray Waters. Adrian Jackson set out from the gun driving record Elite field of over 50 riders at a blistering pace. Team mates Shawn Lewis and defending XCM Series champion Dylan Cooper managed to match his pace, but it was Jackson to crest the top of the KOM climb first. This put Jackson in the lead in the KOM Series competition. Jackson will be marked at the next round in Canberra as he will be wearing the KOM jersey.
Andy Blair had an unfortunate early puncture and had to chase the leading trio with Ben Mather. The two very experienced riders were able to catch up the leaders just before the 75km mark, showing that they are on top form. The trio of Lewis, Jackson and Cooper put the hammer down as soon as they were caught and managed to open another gap, which they held until the end. A few kilometres before the finish Lewis and Jackson got away from Cooper and it was down to an exciting sprint finish. Lewis just pipped Jackson by a few inches for an important and well deserved win. Cooper followed shortly after with Mather and Blair rounding out the top 5.
The women's Elite field was stronger than at any previous Real Insurance XCM Series event. Riders like Peta Mullins, Tory Thomas and Jess Douglas lined up alongside defending champion Jenny Fay. Fay and Mullins set themselves apart early, but Fay proved to be in a class of her own as she pulled away and won both the QOM competition and the overall event by a convincing margin.
The 2nd leg of the of the Series will take the riders to Canberra for the Capital Punishment next weekend. Lewis and Fay will be wearing the coveted Real Insurance purple leader's jerseys, with Jackson and Mullins the King and Queen of the Mountain Jerseys. An even stronger field is expected to line up in Canberra next week as more riders are launching their campaigns in the Series.
The Real Insurance XCM Series is Australia's premier mountain bike Series, with 6 of the biggest mountain bike marathon events tied into a Series. Over 7,000 participants are expected to take part in the 6 events, with their 3 best results converted in a ranking by CycleNation.