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Press Release / Event Report via Spoke Magazine:

Elite DH Podium

The six event 2011 Mountain Bike National Championships programme finished this past Sunday with the Short Track Cross Country and Downhill races, both at Signal Hill, Dunedin. Slippery conditions which had caused major issues for racers during practice sessions had finally eased off by race day morning – the Signal Hill course drying just enough to take the unpredictable factor out of the picture. Seeding showed no real surprises, with form riders all at the top of the age group and Elite start lists for the 2pm race start.

Cam Cole charging for Gold. Photo: James Allan
In the feature Elite Men’s race, Nathan Rankin (Monster Energy, Levin) had seeded poorly but put together a race run that looked to be competitive enough to take the title. Rankin’s time held until 6th seed George Brannigan (from Havelock North, who will be racing 2011 with Stevie Smith on Devinci Global Racing) peeled nearly two seconds out of him to take the leader’s hotseat. Five riders were still capable of going quicker than Brannigan – Rupert Chapman (Christchurch) couldn’t improve on his 5th seed time; Matthew Scoles (Cingolani-Protone, Alexandra) went four seconds quicker than his seeding time but this was only good enough for 8th; Justin Leov (Trek World Racing, Dunedin) also improved but not enough; former Elite World Champion Gee Atherton (Commencal, Great Britain) crashed heavily in the top part of the course and couldn’t finish, so the final starter and fastest seed Cameron Cole was the only rider who had a shot at beating Brannigan for the title. 2006 Junior World Champion Cole was composed, lightening fast and up to the task, stopping the clock at 2:58.13 – the only rider to race a sub 3 minute run to take the prized Elite National Championship title.

The 2011 New Zealand DH National Champ. Photo: James Allan
Cole’s race run completed a busy domestic competitive race season for New Zealand’s top mountain bikers, with many moving north to begin 2011 World Cup campaigns after competing at the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships March 17-20 in Shepparton, Australia.

Justin Leov on his way to a 4th Place finish. Photo: John Cosgrove

8th Place for Matt Scoles.  Photo: John Cosgrove

Despite qualifying in 2nd place, Gee Atherton crashed during the finals sustaining a mild concussion. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images AsiaPac

Defending National Champion Harriet Harper (Santa Cruz, Nelson) won the Elite Women’s race convincingly in Dunedin and in a time that had many of her male peers envious.

Harper and Cole will now proudly wear the stunning new Downhill National Champions jersey while racing overseas this year – displaying the New Zealand flag on their full right sleeves from shoulder to cuff as recognition of their titles.

Tension built through the age group categories in the lead-up to the Elite race as championship titles started to be delivered. A notable result going to Under 17 Men’s winner Tom Burns, who seeded first and converted that advantage into a championship win, the Dunedin local finding enough pace to win by a staggering 10 seconds. The Under 19 Men’s title was another that was highly sought after. Top seed Reuben Olorenshaw (Nelson) had a huge advantage up his sleeve going into the 2pm race, and while he didn’t have his usual clean and composed result in terms of his final run, was still able to push hard enough to claim the win. The Nelson flier has now collected National Championship titles as an Under 15, Under 17 and now Under 19 rider – unprecedented in New Zealand’s downhill results history.

Top 20 Pro Men (Click image for full DH results)

Dual Slalom
The popular Dual Slalom event took place at the summit of Signal Hill, under threatening skies and on a bike handling expert’s course. Elimination heats in the Junior and Senior Men’s categories were hotly contested with two very experienced riders claiming Championship honours. Reon Boe (Queenstown) dominated the Senior category triumphing over Dave du Plessis (Perth), while Daniel Franks (Christchurch) called on his vast BMX racing experience to better visiting Tahitian Bryan Beaufils in the Junior Men’s final. Enough rain fell during the final heats to make a largely grass based dual slalom course treacherous and unpredictable, and both Boe and Franks displayed reactive bike handling prowess worthy of their wins.


Four Cross
The eliminator style four-up event took place on the Signal Hill course first utilised for the 2010 Oceania Championships 12 months ago. A great mix of Elite and Junior riders raced each other in the Open Men’s race – with a final heat stacked with four riders capable of claiming the sought after Four Cross National Championship title. Number 1, 2, 3 and 5 seeds progressed through to the final round, with fastest qualifier Daniel Franks getting the all important jump out of the gate and to the first corner. However, Franks left an inside line barely open, and it was enough for Mat Walker (Kawerau) to make a pass that stuck right through to the finish line and the title. Reon Boe and Rupert Chapman (Christchurch) tussled for the third spot, with Boe doing enough to claim the 3rd place.

The small Open Women’s field put on a fantastic display of competitive four cross racing. Fastest qualifier Veronique Sandler (Nelson) and Sophie Tyas (Auckland) were even right through the top 2/3rds of the race – with the lead changing several times as both Juniors tried to break away from each other. Wellington’s Sarah Atkin was ready to pounce at the slightest opportunity, but it was Sandler who held her nerve to claim the Women’s title.


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