Josh Carlson kicked off the week by defending his title in the men’s E-XC race. The win came less than a week after his victory in the E-Enduro race, giving him two national titles to carry through the rest of the year.
The track at Maydena Bike Park in Tasmania was challenging with long climbs and technical descents. To give himself an advantage on the terrain, Carlson chose his Reign E+, the same bike he used to win the enduro championship a week earlier.
“I really had to manage the climbs and attack the descents as hard and as fast I could to get a gap on the other competitors,” Carlson said. “The Reign E+ ate up the descents like a dream and worked in my favor as the race played out. I set it up dramatically differently compared to the enduro race by utilizing the high position flip chips and the added adjustability of the Factory Fox shock. I ran slightly lighter weight Maxxis tires—a Disector in the rear and Assegai up front, both with the DD carcass for support and reliability.”
With the two national titles in the bag, Carlson now turns his attention to a full season of racing with a focus on E-bike enduro events. “It’s been a great couple of weeks to kick off the 2022 season and I’m more excited than ever to get back to training to continue preparing for the Sea Otter Classic and upcoming EWS-E series”
Double Gold For Wright
The team’s other Australian talent, Cameron Wright, also got his season off to a hot start by winning two medals in Under-23 racing. Wright brought home the U23 men’s title in both the XC and short track events. The men’s XC race covered six laps of a challenging track featuring 200 meters of climbing per lap.
“While Maydena is known for its treacherous conditions in both wet and dry conditions, I was prepared for anything,” Wright said. “The final practice day showed some rain, but some warm weather allowed the track to dry. I was on my all-new Anthem Advanced Pro 29. After a few weeks of testing and tuning, I knew I had the best bike for the climbs and rough descents.”
For the XC race, the U23 men started two minutes behind the elite men. Wright, wearing his Giant Charge Pro shoes and Rev Pro helmet, shot off the line and set the fastest lap time of the weekend with his opening lap. “I settled into my rhythm and stuck to my plan,” he said. “I used my energy wisely and recovered where I could on the grueling course. I’ve never felt so comfortable on a bike that both climbs like a mountain goat and descends as fast as a luge racer!”
Wright put in a flawless effort to take the win in a race he had been thinking about for nearly a year. “This is the most prestigious race on the Australian MTB calendar for the year,” he said. “After a disappointing one last year I was eager to get on the top step of the podium. After ticking all the boxes with my coach in the months leading into this, I knew I was on for a good one. I came in with a plan and executed with a 10.5kg race weapon.”
As icing on the cake, Wright also took the win on the short track, adding the XCC U23 title as well. It was a different test, a 25-minute slugfest with a mixed field of elite and U23 men. Wright started fast, getting on the wheel of elite racer Jared Graves and holding his second position throughout.
“As the laps went by, Jared just turned the screws on every open passing section to minimize the opportunity for anyone to try get past,” Wright said. “While he tapped on the front, I stuck to his wheel like glue. Going into the last lap it was just Jared and I left. We were both racing for separate titles, but bragging rights were on the line. I tried my luck jumping into the corner before the last descent but came out second best. I followed through to a sprint finish to clamp the U23 title and second overall.”
It was the best possible start to the year for Wright, who will look to carry that momentum into the international racing season this spring.
Hot, dusty XC in Puerto Rico and Spain
In other XC racing action, Americans Luke Vrouwenvelder and Stephen Davoust were in Puerto Rico to race the Tropical MTB Challenge on their Anthem Advanced Pro 29 team bikes. They faced hot, humid conditions but both stayed at the front of the action over two days of racing. Vrouwenvelder finished 8th in both the cross-country and short-track events, while Davoust finished 14th in the XCO and 9th in the XCC.
The team’s other XC racers were in Chelva, Spain, for one of the first major UCI events of the year. Racing on a fast, dusty track, French rider Antoine Philipp finished 11th and Swiss rider Reto Indergand was 18th. It was a strong start to the year in Chelva for the team’s World Cup XC racers, who are staying in Spain for a winter training camp over the next week.