In sport, the most respectful way to treat your rivals is to give your best performance. By that measure, rising Cross Country MTB stars Gareth Cannon and Jessica Manchester displayed the utmost respect for their more experienced rivals on Sunday, as they simply dominated proceedings during race one of the Camelbak Summer Cup.
Cannon, the pre-race favourite, broke the field apart with a blistering first lap of 26min05, establishing a 30sec lead over Edwin Crossling, and never looked back. Evidently the lightening first lap hurting his rivals who soon were left fighting for the minor places. Steadily increasing his lead in difficult windy conditions Cannon would eventually prevail in dominant fashion. Winning with more than 4mins in hand over the ever consistent Crossling, and the day’s surprise package Hamish Dodd (a Junior rider) in third.
“It was probably a bit too quick to be honest” Cannon laughed when asked about that first lap push. “I was suffering for the last 3 laps because of that. But I knew I had to push hard to get rid of Edwin at the start, and it paid off in the end.” If Cannon really was suffering, he did a good job of hiding it. Of all the laps recorded on the day only four broke the 27min barrier. Three of those were belonged to Cannon. Ever humble, he was quick to credit local knowledge. “I’ve ridden it so many times I just knew when to go hard, and when to go easy.”
Confident and composed it was a great statement from the 20yr old, as the win spring boarded him to the number 1 spot on the NZ Crown National rankings. “Wow. That’s pretty awesome to hear” smiled Cannon at the finish. “Stoked!”
For the women, the script was much the same as 17yr old Jessica Manchester stamped her mark on the race immediately. Manchester utilised her raw speed to produce a blistering first lap and put her older more experienced rivals on the back foot. A position from which they would never recover.
In a race where no other Women dipped under the 31min barrier for a lap, Manchester went out in a superb 29:50. Clearing out to a lead approaching 2min on that initial lap, Manchester proceeded to put together a strong composed performance as she controlled proceedings from the front. Eventually breaking the tape with almost two and half minutes over Kim Hurst in 2nd, and Manawatu local Fiona MacDermid in 3rd.
With raw talent, determination, and bike handling skills to match the young Auckland rider has always had the potential. But now as a member of the National MTB performance hub she is rapidly maturing as a force to be reckoned with a national level.
For MacDermid, on the comeback from injury, it was a tough, but rewarding day in the saddle. “I was so happy to finish 3rd women (or even just to finish!) even though my body is paying me back now - I can barely walk or bend over!” Reported MacDermid. “But I still had fun and showed that I may not be past it yet! Well done to Jessica Manchester for an awesome win.”
Competitors and supporters now have a week to regroup, before the series reconvenes in Tokoroa on January 22nd for race two of the Camelbak Summer Cup.
Will youth prevail again? Or will the experienced veterans of the sport strike back? We’ll know in two week’s time.