Alex Revell enjoys the mud pit in today’s National Championship race in Wanaka. © Amy Taylor

Alex Revell enjoys the mud pit in today’s National Championship race in Wanaka. © Amy Taylor

courtesy of BikeNZ

Wellington’s Alexander Revell, who has raced in Europe this year, claimed his first elite men’s victory in the Cyclocross National Championships in Wanaka. Riders were treated to chilly conditions, mud pits, dirt jumps and even snow on the course that wound through Wanaka’s Lismore Park.

Revell snatched the lead from defending champion Gary Hall (Hawke’s Bay) and held on strongly for the victory, with Wellington’s Brendon Sharratt (Wellington) third. After a season in Belgium, known for its brutal racing conditions, Revell enjoyed the testing course.

“It was a great course. I was kind of hoping for some mud because that’s what most of the racing I did overseas was, so that’s what I feel most comfortable on. In the end when you’re going as fast as you can and sliding around corners, whether it’s muddy or not, it’s kind of a similar thing. You just have to push yourself as hard as you can go and just hope that as hard as you can go is slightly harder than everyone else.”

The 28 year old, sporting his recognizable handlebar mustache that won him a loyal following overseas, took over the lead mid-way through the race after Hall crashed in the snow section. “I wasn’t really sure how I was going to fare today,” Revell said. “Halfway through the race we were all still together so I thought, ‘Well, it’s either going to be like this until the end or I’ve got to try and get ahead and stay ahead. I just took a chance and managed to stay ahead.”

Revell will compete in the Yanqing International Cyclocross in China next month, a UCI C2 event which has attracted some of the top riders from around the globe. Joining him in China will be the elite women’s winner, Jenna Makgill from Auckland, who dominated after gaining a convincing early lead to finish clear from Gayle Brownlee (Auckland) and Hayley Davis (Napier).

“That was just neat. We were racing with the Masters and it would’ve been nice to keep up with the guy in front but my little heart wouldn’t permit me to do it. It was nice racing with the boys because you need people around you to push you,” Makgill said. “The course was good, I liked it because it had jumps, which suits me, and it was very challenging. It definitely pushed you.”

Makgill, 27, who has raced in the UCI World Cup Downhill, has twice won the World Messenger Championship but is now enjoying her change to cyclocross. “The whole fitness and endurance aspect of cyclocross is a whole new kettle of fish for me seeing as I come from a technical background. This is more of a personal challenge to test the waters. I’ve got an amazing opportunity to go over to China to race. I think I’ll be over my head, it will be sink or swim. I might sink but sometimes you learn to swim after you sink.”