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by Amie Marsh

After a spell of hot dry weather, a short but challenging track in Christchurch’s Victoria Park tested some of the world's elite riders in the MTBNZ Gravity Canterbury Open, the first round of the New Zealand National series.

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With 113 entrants and a stacked elite field including the likes of Nick Beer, Bernard Kerr, Richie Rude Jr, Cam Cole, Sam Blenkinsop, Wyn Masters, and George Brannigan to name a few,  a weekend of tight racing brought in a large crowd of spectators who lined the track to catch a glimpse of the non stop action on this steep course which was catching out the worlds best.

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The shifting deep dust added to the challenge of the steepness, rocks and roots that dominate much of this track. George Brannigan from Trek World Racing proved he was the most consistent rider on the hill, taking the Elite men's qualification and the race win with a time of 2.15.62. Lapierre's Blenkinsop came in with a close 2nd place, followed by local rider Rupert Chapmen. Pivot Bikes rider Bernard Kerr and Zerode's Kieren Bennett rounded off the podium.

FULL RESULTS HERE

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Junior men's was won by Joshua McCombie with a time of 2.27.17, closely followed by Keegan Wright in 2nd and Connor Hamilton in 3rd.

4 women took to the hill this weekend with the race winner, Bob (Harriett) Latchem taking the win in a time of 3.03.22.

With more entrants in open, masters, under 17 and under 15, and riders from all over New Zealand and Europe taking part, this was a great start to the New Zealand National race season under the newly reformed Mountain Bike NZ. Round 2 will follow in Nelson on January 31 / Feb 1 with an equally exciting track and a star studded start list.

New Zealand will also be hosting the Oceania Championships on the 14,15, and 16th of March 2014 at Mount Hutt, visit our web sitewww.gravitycanterbury.org.nz or our Facebook page for more.

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