12 February 2021

Canberra contingent up against nation's best off-road cyclists at Stromlo

| Michael Weaver
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Zoe Cuthbert

Canberra cyclist Zoe Cuthbert will compete on her home course against the best in Australia this Sunday. Photo: Supplied.

The off-road cycling course at Stromlo Forest Park will host some of Australia’s best cyclists at a national-level event this Sunday (14 February).

The testing 5 km course will have riders from all over Australia taking on the renowned cardiac arrest climb and hammerhead descent along with sections of the brand-new trails.

Local Canberra world cup riders and husband and wife duo Rebecca and Dan McConnell will compete in the elite categories, while junior rider Zoe Cuthbert, who came fifth in the world championships in the cross country Olympic discipline in juniors in 2019, will step up to race against the elite women on Sunday.

Zoe, from the Canberra Off-Road Cyclists Club, said it was exciting to see a major event being held on the world-class track at Stromlo.

“We haven’t really had any races of this importance since before COVID and to have everyone travelling from all over Australia to race is definitely going to be an experience that I have missed,” Zoe told Region Media.

“It’s a really great track, and we were lucky enough to have the world championships here a few years ago. This Sunday’s event will run on part of that track, so it’s great to experience a world-level track in my home town.”

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Zoe first began riding when she was six-years-old and was immediately drawn to the sport. In her first race, she came last when her bike chain dislodged.

She is now part of the Trek Shimano Australia racing team. She has represented Australia at the Mountain Bike World Championships in her age category and as part of the Australian national relay team in 2018 and 2019. These results helped earn her the Cycling Australia MTB Female Junior of the Year award. She is also the current 2020 under-23 women’s national champion and Oceania champion.

“I just love the adventure of the sport, as well as the community of people involved,” Zoe says. “There’s always another challenge and new and exciting places to ride.”

Canberra cyclists Rebecca and Dan McConnell

Rebecca and Dan McConnell will both race in Sunday’s event at Stromlo. Photo: Georgina von Marburg.

Three-time Olympian Dan McConnell and his wife Rebecca, a dual Olympian and bronze medallist at the 2019 Mountain Bike World Championships, will compete in the elite categories.

Sunday’s event at Stromlo will also be the start of Dan’s 20th season of cycling, which has taken him to the Olympics with the Australian team in London where he finished 21st in the men’s cross country in 2012. He placed 39th during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and 16th at Rio in 2016.

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, he won the bronze medal in the men’s cross-country cycling, finishing 10 seconds behind the winner.

Sunday’s event is open to the public to watch the racing from 8:00 am when the under-13s begin proceedings. This will be followed by the second section of races at 9:00 am and the elite section at 10:30 am.

More information is on the Canberra Off-Road Cyclists website, or you can take a rider’s view down the Stromlo Forest Park track below.

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