Adversity has been the ally of BMX rider Matthew Juster in 2017, the hulking Northern Territorian overcoming a dose of the flu earlier this week to win the final race, and title in the elite men’s Probikx UCI event in Cairns.
With riders lapping up the unusually cool conditions in far north Queensland, Juster proved yet again to be too strong for his competitors. Meanwhile reigning Australian women’s champion Leanna Curtis won her first Probikx UCI event of 2017, and the title along with it.
The elite men’s race was action packed from the moment the gate dropped as Juster battled with Kai Sakakibara and Tom Siinmaa for the lead. Further back Victoria’s Joshua McLean and NSW rider Alex Cameron fought tooth and nail over the real estate that was fourth place, such was the intensity of the final.
However in a clear first place was Juster, who opened his season with a win just days after the passing of his grandfather, closing it out in equally impressive form following a setback prior to racing. Post race Juster outlined the importance of a strong result just weeks out from the 2017 national championships in Brisbane.
“That’s three out of four wins this season. My plan all season was to stay top three in every race, and my worst result was second. I’m over the moon,” Juster managed following an intense men’s final.
“I’ve been training harder, and smarter. But earlier this week I caught the flu and started panicking a bit. But I spoke with a few people and they helped me put my head in a good space before this weekend.
“I now feel like I’m in good stead for nationals in a few weeks. We’ll race guys like [Olympians] Bodi Turner and Anthony Dean. I was second to Bodi in Nerang this year, and I haven’t raced Anthony for a while and he’s probably one of the best in the world at the moment.
“I love racing the best, it just pushes me harder.”
In the elite women’s Probikx UCI event Wollongong’s Leanna Curtis broke through for her first victory of the season, ensuring she finished the series in first place after a typically consistent string of form across all four rounds.
Ironically it was Cairns that netted Curtis her first victory of 2016, today’s result coming as a relief for the rider who came into the season as a hot favourite for the title courtesy of a breakthrough season last year.
“There must be something about this track that I like, hey,” Curtis said with a wry smile.
“It was a bit of a slow start to the season for me, with a few seconds and thirds so it was good to finally get a win. This is good for momentum going into nationals; it’s exactly what you want.
“At the start of the day I said it was a bit weird holding the series leaders plate and not winning a round, so it’s a relief to finally get one. I would have left pretty disappointed if I hadn’t have won one round but still had that plate.”
The junior elite men’s event was won by Izaac Kennedy, his first win of the season, escaping carnage at the first jump to lead home fellow Queensland rider Matt Krasevskis and first year junior elite rider Nathaniel Rodway.
In the corresponding women’s event Queensland’s Sara Jones took what may be a watershed moment in her career as she beat home prolific winner Saya Sakakibara, who until this point has been undefeated. Finishing third was Jenna Williams.
In the 16-years-girl’s contest Molly McGill was too strong for her competition, beating home Ashlee Miller and Kiwi Baylee Luttrell. In the boy’s event Cairns local Wade Mundie put in an outstanding performance to beat New Zealand world champion Cailen Calkin, who has looked near unbeatable up to this point of the season.
Des’Ree Barnes produced another stirring performance to win the 15-years-girl’s event ahead of Kiana Botfield and Hayley Hughes, while in the 15 boy’s Oliver Moran had an outburst of joy as he beat Aston Wypych-Coles to first place, Kai Angel was in third.
Just like in the junior elite women and 16-years boy’s, there was an upset in the 14-years-boy’s event as Nerang BMX Club rider Jesse Asmus broke through for his first national series victory, as he led home perennial victor Buddha Baum, Ethan Zrna placing third. In the 14 girl’s event it was another win for the host club as Shannon Petre finished ahead of Paige Harding, making it two wins apiece this season for the top two finishers today. Rayna Anesbury was third.
In the 17-29 men’s race Dirk Winter continued his season of strong form, while it was a experienced hands Sean Dwight and Corey Stafford duking it out for the win in the 30+ masters, Dwight getting to the line first. Rounding out a strong day for the Cairns contingent of riders was Aislynn Weber who won the 17+ women’s class.
Competition at Cairns BMX Club continues tomorrow with the penultimate round of the Grands Assault Series. Racing commences at 9:45am AEST.