Pair take on world’s best
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.