Competitions

Golden Comeback: Tracey Hannah & Connor Fearon Take Victory at RockShox Downhill Cairns

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The legendary Smithfield Downhill track that challenges athletes with its narrow turns through the tropical rainforest proved particularly demanding for the RockShox Downhill Cairns, following 24 hours of on-and-off rain showers.

Despite the conditions, Tracey Hannah and Connor Fearon, both returning to Crankworx Cairns after a brief hiatus, navigated the technical Rock Garden and slippery roots to secure the top spots on the podium. 

The tropical weather varied from heavy rain to sunny skies and gusty winds, making the already challenging course even tougher. Local favourite Tracey Hannah, who seeded first alongside her brother Mick Hannah, started last and raced into the finish corral with an impressive 18-second lead over fellow Australian rider Ellie Smith. Martha Gill placed third, only a few seconds ahead of the rising star Elleni Turkovic, who narrowly missed the podium today and in yesterday’s Specialized Dual Slalom. Tracey Hannah commented on her victory, saying, “It got a bit hard by the last run, which was the race run obviously, but it was fun. I’m just happy that I got to ride.” Having her 6-month-old son Cooper in the crowd with her family, Hannah reflected on getting back into racing after a one-year absence: “It’s super weird because you just forget how intense the nerves are. And then, you have to go back into your race routine and how you put it out of your mind. You really have to think through it. It was cool and interesting to go through that again.” 

In the men’s category, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene had to leave the hot seat to make way for three Aussie riders. Connor Fearon clinched Gold with a smooth run despite the challenging conditions, bouncing back after a difficult seeding run. Absent from Crankworx Cairns for a year, Fearon improved on his silver medal from 2022. Reflecting on his performance and competition, Fearon said, “He was the main competition I think for this race”, referring to Mick Hannah who struggled to make it through the Rock Garden leading to some technical issues with his bike. He added, “So, I was happy with my run, came into the hot seat, and then unfortunately Mick had some problems in the Rock Garden, so I couldn't see if my run was enough to beat him but won the race regardless.” 

Joel Sutherland, another hometown hero, secured second place with a run that had everyone at the edge of their seats, before he was carried across the finish line by the cheering crowds. Jackson Frew, who won a bronze medal in yesterday’s Specialized Dual Slalom, rounded out the podium in third place. Vying for the King of Crankworx crown, this placing brings him closer to his goal, as his current main competitors, Ryan Gilchrist and Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, did not make the podium this time. Frew commented on the step-up in King of Crankworx points: “It feels really good! I obviously would've liked a few more people between me and Tuhoto, that really would've helped, but I needed a solid day today and I put a solid run down and we got in the right spot.” 

RockShox Downhill Cairns - Women’s Podium 

  1. Tracey HANNAH (AUS) 4:22.336
  2. Ellie SMITH (AUS) +17.922 
  3. Martha GILL (GBR) +22.905 

RockShox Downhill Cairns – Men's Podium 

  1. Connor FEARON (AUS) 3:42.495 
  2. Joel SUTHERLAND (AUS) +3.026 
  3. Jackson FREW (AUS) +6.434 

Today’s rollercoaster of rain, wind and tropical heat kept athletes, spectators and the crews on-site on their toes, but the forecast for tomorrow’s double-broadcast day looks promising. Saturday will kick off with Speed & Style and conclude with the Crankworx Cairns Pump Track Challenge. Fans can look forward to thrilling head-to-head racing featuring familiar faces like Jackson Frew, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, Ryan Gilchrist, Bas Van Steenbergen, Shania Rawson, Martha Gill, Jordy Scott, Cassie Voysey, and many more. Caroline Buchanan will be defending her title in the Pump Track Challenge before shifting gears for Sunday’s highly anticipated Slopestyle event.