Champ is 'two' strong
WORLD Champion and race favourite Craig Gordon proved too strong for Australia's best mountain bike riders when he won his second Australian Marathon Championship in Coffs Harbour on Sunday.
The 34-year-old Wollongong rider dominated the field of 100 and finished the 95 kilometre race in a blistering time of 4 hours and 45 seconds, retaining the inaugural jersey he won last year and reaching speeds up to 60 km per hour.
Gordon won by 9 minutes and 44 seconds holding off Canberra's Shaun Lewis and Matthew Fleming of Helensburgh.
Lewis outsprinted Fleming for second place.
Early race leader, Ben Mathers from Launceston had mechanical problems which gave him an eventual fourth place.
"Do a 24 hour race like I did you just look back and nothing compares," he commented.
"If you're a defending champion it's always harder and it always feels good to win but you never underestimate your opponents."
Ben Mathers laid down the early challenge by leading the field for the first half of the race.
"When Ben went up the road I was asking the boys about him and when I heard he was a strong road rider I decided to go," Gordon said.
"I love it by myself and the course has got awesome single track."
The women's race came down to a sprint for the line with Launceston's Rowena Fry taking eventual honours from Brisbane's Jodie Willett to win by 7 seconds.
Fry rode an impressive 5 hours 16 minutes and 20 seconds after leading early in the race.
"I didn't mean to take it out hard but found myself out in front and just thought I'd keep it going while the going's good," she admitted.
"I was cooked at two hours into it and I just kept pushing through it and managed to hold on."
Fry is a member of the 'Dirt Roads to London' program but was not expected to match the highly ranked Katrina Van Spiegel from Sydney who finished a creditable third.
Course designer Geoff Gilchrist placed second in the 40 age group in 4 hours 43 minutes and 54 seconds.
Over 415 riders competed in the full, half or quarter distance event.