Pair take on world’s best

Alpine Observer - - Sport -

By JUSTIN JEN­VEY

TWO Bright teenagers have been se­lected in the Aus­tralia Ju­nior Team for the UCI Moun­tain Bike World Cham­pi­onships in Len­z­er­heide, Switzer­land in Septem­ber.

Cross-coun­try cham­pion Tea­gan Ather­stone has earnt her sec­ond na­tional jersey while down­hill star Aaron Gungl has been in­cluded in a 16-mem­ber Aus­tralian squad for the first time.

Both ath­letes are ranked sec­ond na­tion­ally after strong sea­sons in their re­spec­tive dis­ci­plines.

Hav­ing rep­re­sented Aus­tralia at the world cham­pi­onships in Cairns last year, Ather­stone is feel­ing much bet­ter pre­pared this time round.

“The first time was ex­cit­ing, but I don’t think I was pre­pared for the scale that it was,” she said.

“I’m felling fit­ter and stronger al­ready so that’s good and I know what to ex­pect.

“Last year I just wanted to fin­ish on lap and I was one of two Aus­tralian’s to do that.

“I was re­ally happy with the re­sult but this year I’d like a bit more than that.”

The 18 year-old has raced over­seas twice al­ready this year, at the Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onships in New Zealand in Fe­bru­ary and in Ja­pan at a UCI World Se­ries event in May.

“At the Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onships I fin­ished sec­ond ex­cept I got a flat tyre which was dis­ap­point­ing and in Ja­pan I was happy with my fifth after crash­ing on the first lap and crack­ing my ribs,” Ather­stone said.

Those re­sults fol­lowed on from what Ather­stone said was one of her best ever races at the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships at Ar­mi­dale where she fin­ished sec­ond just six sec­onds be­hind win­ner Zoe Cuth­bert.

After a dis­ap­point­ing 2017, every­thing came to­gether this sea­son for Gungl, which re­flected in his out­stand­ing re­sults.

He also placed sec­ond at the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, held in Bright in March, and was third in the Na­tional Se­ries which saw the top four rid­ers sep­a­rated by just nine points.

Gungl is al­ready in Europe and has com­peted in Crankworkx events in Aus­tria and France.

He also plans to race sev­eral World Cup events ahead of World Cham­pi­onships which take place from Septem­ber 5-9.

“It’s pretty ex­cit­ing to have two peo­ple from our area go­ing,” Ather­stone said.

“I know all the cross-coun­try ones but hav­ing an­other fa­mil­iar face from home there is go­ing to be nice.”

Last month the Alpine Cy­cling Club had a fundrais­ing screen­ing of MAMIL, short for mid­dle aged men in ly­cra, to help Ather­stone and Gungl with costs of travel and train­ing for the World Cham­pi­onships.

Ather­stone was blown away by the gen­eros­ity of lo­cal in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses, thank­ing the club and lo­cal com­mu­nity who were gen­er­ous in do­nat­ing goods and ser­vices that were auc­tioned on the night.

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