The RaboPlus 2010 NZ MTB Cup continues this weekend in Dunedin. The six event national series in MTB Cross Country and Downhill disciplines takes competitors all over NZ in January and February, culminating in the RaboPlus MTB National Championships at the end of February in Wellington.
Dunedin is hosting Round Two of the 2010 Cup on the same race courses that will be used later in March for the 2010 Oceania Mountainbike Championships. Strong fields are anticipated in all age group categories and especially in the Elite fields, with athletes seeking a preview of what they will be up for in March against Oceanias best. The Signal Hill Downhill course has previously been used at national level and is a favourite among competitors, with several new sections having been added for 2010. Likewise the Forrester Park Cross Country race course - previously used at national level several years ago in terrible weather conditions, competitors will be hoping for good weather and a dry course this weekend.
The Cross Country Elite race on Saturday has Brendon Sharratt (Christchurch) aiming for a repeat of his Round One win in Christchurch last weekend. Sharratt has good competition in new Elite athlete Brent Miller (Christchurch) and several other very fast U23 and Elite competitors. In the Womens Elite race, Round One surprise winner Amy Laird (Christchurch) will be up against Rotorua's Samara Sheppard and also experienced locals Erin Greene, Sara MacDonald and Christchurch's Sara Taylor, who are all more than capable of competing for the podium. Laird is reasonably inexperienced at this level of cross country racing having switched from the downhill discipline last year, and the race between the more seasoned cross country racers and Laird as the new pace setter promises to be one to watch.
Sunday's Downhill event will feature NZ's best gravity racers, with Round One winner Sam Blenkinsop (Wanganui) squaring off against Dunedin's Justin Leov who is racing on his home track. Both athletes are world ranked top ten athletes and will be competing against a high quality NZ Elite field that includes the current Junior World Champion Brook MacDonald (Napier), former Junior World Champion Cameron Cole (Christchurch) and former Junior World Championship bronze medalist Matt Scoles (Alexandra). Visiting internationals Fabien Pedemenaud (France), Tim Eaton (Australia), Sam Shucksmith (UK), David Reinhardt (Germany) and Eolo Fronco (Italy) add real flavour to the field this weekend, and they will all be looking to mix it up at the front of the Elite field after finding their pace in Christchurch last weekend.
Cole's teammate Sabrina Jonnier (France) is competing again this weekend, and brings a strong pedigree with her. Jonnier is the current World Cup champion, and is also a former Elite World Champion. The French downhill star showed her strength and pace in Christchurch last weekend to post a massive win in the Elite Womens race, and the more technical nature of the Dunedin course is sure to suit her even more.
Cross Country racing at Forrester Park, North-East Valley has age group categories on a 10.30am race start on Saturday morning, with Elite, U19 and U23 categories racing on a 2pm race start.
Downhill practice at Signal Hill (Logan High School), runs between 9am and 5pm on Saturday, with seeding and racing taking place on Sunday from 10.30am.
Further information contact:
Chris Mildon, MTBNZ Event Coordinator