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Oceania MTB Wrap Up
12 Mar, 2012
The 2012 Oceania Mountainbike Championships finished today with the Downhill and Cross Country Eliminator races in the Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua. Weather was very changeable, with just enough rain falling on and off all day to keep competitors guessing and gambling with the variable conditions. Competition was tough, and the strong international presence was felt again today in both feature races.

Cross Country Eliminator - Taberlay and Quin take the Titles

Evergreen Sid Taberlay (Australia) won the Mens XCE event today ahead of the best New Zealanders on a very tough circuit in the knock-out format race - on a course that rewarded a good dose of nerve on the downhill section, and a strong pair of legs and a tolerance to sprinting burn on the uphill. Taberlay was beaten for outright honours by Switzerland's Patrick Luthi, who was ineligible for the title having Swiss residency. Tauranga's Vanessa Quin, the 2004 World Downhill Champion made a successful return to MTB racing with a win in the Women's race, and loved every second of the experience. Quin revelled in the dirt racing atmosphere and clearly enjoyed herself with this new dirt criterium style event, and expressed a strong desire to chase some more events in a sport that saw her international career span several years through the late 90s through to 2006.

Results Oceania Cross Country Eliminator

Downhill - Atkin Remains Unbeaten, Scoles Breaks his Title Drought

The largest field of entrants this 2012 summer took on the Whaka Downhill course for the afternoon race. Seeding showed that the Australian challenge was going to be the strongest in the Junior U19 Mens race, and that is exactly the way the race panned out. Local hopes rested with Louis Hamilton and Jake Robinson, who know this hill and the course itself intimately, however they were beaten by an ecstatic Brent Smith (Australia) albeit by the slimmest of margins. Smith knew he had raced clean and fast from his 5th seed position, and his time held right through for his first Oceania Championship title.

In the Elite Womens race, Sarah Atkin (Lower Hutt) added the Oceania title to her stellar 2012 achievements, ahead of a disappointed Gabby Molloy (Rotorua) who lost just enough time with a mid course crash to prevent her challenge taking her to the win.

The Mens Elite race was a cracker. Napier's Brook MacDonald was a late entry to the race, after confirming late flights to the first UCI World Cup in South Africa for Monday. 2009 Junior World Champion MacDonald held a massive advantage with the quickest seeding time, but couldn't improve on that time during his race, while four other athletes did. Matt Walker (Kawerau) set the benchmark time from a deep seed position, and Wyn Masters (New Plymouth) locked in his best result of this summer with a third. Only Alexandra's Matt Scoles had the pace to better Walker's time. Scoles, who raced a quality season in Europe last year that saw him finishing in top ten positions during late season World Cups, and winning everything he raced at the next tier of competition in Italy has been on a steady upward rise in this sport since working his way back from injury after his 2007 Junior World Championship bronze medal. The Oceanias Championship title this year represents a real coming of age for the Alexandra builder, his first major title win in this sport in New Zealand at an Elite level.

Results Oceania Downhill

Event hosts, the Rotorua MTB Club were extremely happy with how the Oceanias ran this year, with the quality of race courses and the level of competition evenly matched. MTBNZ thanks RaboDirect and Nature Valley for their sponsorship and support of the 2012 Oceania Mountainbike Championships, and wishes those athletes embarking on northern hemisphere racing campaigns all the best for the rest of 2012.

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