Title defence beckons

QUEANBEYAN mountain bike rider Andy Blair will aim to defend his National Series Cross Country and Australian Marathon Championship titles next year on the back of his most successful season to date.

Blair recently brought his season to a close with a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Highland Fling – the final leg of the Real Insurance Cross Country Marathon series at Bundanoon.

The result saw Blair miss out on claiming the XCM championship but couldn’t take the gloss off an otherwise superb year for the 33-year-old.

With his 2012 campaign having now run its course, Queanbeyan Age sports reporter Andrew Johnston spoke to Blair about his take on the season past and the year to come.

AJ.

First of all Andy, how disappointing was it not to be able to finish off your season on a winning note at the Highland Fling?

AB.

It’s always disappointing when you’re riding well and you have mechanical problems. Things were going perfectly and then I got two flat tyres which cost me about 10 minutes and ultimately the race. There was a very realistic chance there that I could have won the series had I not had those problems but unfortunately, that’s how it goes sometimes.

AJ.

Even taking into account that result into account, you still managed a fantastic year taking out two national titles as well as prestigious races like the Ingkerreke Commercial and the Convict 100?

AB:

I’m definitely satisfied with how things have gone. Winning the National Cross Country title, the National Marathon Championships and representing Australia at the World Championships [in France], I’ve done more or less everything I set out to achieve.

AJ:

Is it possible to pick a highlight from among those results?

AB:

I think probably winning the National Marathon Championships. That was a big goal of mine and it all came off on the day. To wear the green and gold national jersey was the realisation of a dream for me and once you’re a national champion, it’s something you’ll always have to your name. Finishing third at the Australian Cross Country Championships was right up there as well. That’s probably the biggest race of the year so to get third against the best riders in Australia, especially in an Olympic year, was something I’m very happy with.

AJ:

Have you surprised even yourself with your success this year?

AB:

I knew I was capable of producing the results but it’s definitely a relief when everything actually goes to plan. You can have the goals and the ability to get it done but at the end of the day, you’ve still got to make it happen so it’s nice when it all comes together. At an event like a National Championship, you’ve probably got 10 guys on the start line who think they can win it and it’s not going to work out for nine of them so to be the guy it goes right for is good.

AJ:

Next year there will be a lot of expectation placed on your shoulders, what goals have you set yourself?

AB:

I think my schedule will be pretty similar to this year so I’ll be racing in the National Cross Country and the Marathon Championships again.Taking out the Australian Cross Country title is always going to be a stretch for me but next year it’ll be in Canberra which works out well. If I’m ever going to win it 2013 will be the year.  

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