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Karen Hanlen (John Cosgrove)

Justin Leov (John Cosgrove)

NZ MTB Cup Wrap Up in Dunedin
28 Feb, 2011
2011 Mountainbike National Championships Wrap - Final Day Wrap from Dunedin

The six event 2011 RaboDirect Mountainbike National Championships programme finished today with the Short Track Cross Country and Downhill races, both at Signal Hill, Dunedin.

Short Track Cross Country

One of the most popular of the three supporting events at the Champs, the STXC or dirt criterium drew a fantastic mens field eager to duke it out on the 800m circuit in front of a raucous crowd of downhill racers and spectators.

Eleven racers took on the 20 minute, multi-lap sprint challenge, a field containing a mix of Under 17, Under 19 Juniors and seasoned Elite competitors. Tokoroa's Mike Northcott controlled the race from the front in the early stages, but the charging first year Under 19 Junior Anton Cooper (Christchurch) seemed to be biding his time, before finally attacking 15 minutes in. Cooper had the legs and the lungs to ride away from Northcott and the rest of the mens field to claim an utterly convincing title - his second National Championship win in two days. Hillclimb champion Tom Filmer (Nelson) gamely hung on for third place, behind an exhausted Northcott.


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.

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 Mens 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 Mens 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 NZ's downhill results history.

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

In the feature Elite Mens 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. Rankins time held until 6th seed George Brannigan (Ancillotti, Havelock North) peeled nearly two seconds out of him to take the leaders hotseat. Five riders were still capable of going quicker than Brannigan - Rupert Chapman (Christchurch) couldn't improve on his 5th seed time; Mathew 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.

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

Cole's race run completed a busy domestic competitive race season for New Zealand's top mountainbikers, with many moving north to begin 2011 World Cup campaigns after competing at the Oceania Mountainbike Championships March 17-20 in Shepparton, Australia.

Click to enlarge...
Cam Cole - credit John Cosgrove

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