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Mud flies, but Buchanan just misses title

Date

David Polkinghorne

Caroline Buchanan. Click for more photos

Australian Mountain Bike Championships

The Australian Mountain Bike Championships held at Stromlo Park, February 24. Photo: Melissa Adams

Canberra speed demon Caroline Buchanan has one shot left at achieving her goal of representing Australia at the mountain bike downhill world championships in South Africa in August.

Buchanan, who represented Australia in the BMX at the London Olympic Games, must finish in the top 15 of the World Cup in Scotland in June to earn a berth at the worlds.

If she had won the elite women's national title at Stromlo on Sunday, then she'd already be there.

But that honour went to Tracey Hannah from Queensland in appalling conditions on Mount Stromlo. It was a Hannah family double, with her brother Mick claiming the elite men's title in a time of two minutes 21.26 seconds.

Buchanan had qualified fastest by just three-100ths of a second, but Hannah produced the fastest time when it mattered.

The reigning national champion stopped the clock in two minutes 46.53 seconds - just 0.43s faster than Buchanan.

''It just means I've got to head overseas now,'' Buchanan told The Canberra Times.

''With my goal of making the team for worlds I obviously wanted to win to help with qualifying, but now I have the chance to go overseas and perform.

''National champion was automatic [selection] and now I have to go over to Scotland for the World Cup and try and get a top 15 to try and qualify.''

She had no time to dwell on the result, flying to Arizona on Monday morning.

It will be another busy year for the 22-year-old, who will compete in both BMX and downhill mountain biking as she tries to spice things up after last year's disappointment in London, where she missed out on a medal.

She won the mountain bike downhill 4x world championship in 2009.

Buchanan enjoyed the challenge in the mud and rain at Stromlo.

''The storm timed itself perfectly for the start of our race, definitely tough, muddy conditions, but the track was still riding really well,'' she said. ''You pretty much just had to follow the river all the way down.

''It was pouring down with rain, we had our tear-offs going to clear the goggles, but it was fun, fun in the mud.

''It's not something I'm used to - we don't have as much rain as Europe or some of those countries - but it was definitely a good challenge.''

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