A thrilling race in the UCI Oceania Mountain Bike Championships 4X final on Friday evening in Dunedin, New Zealand, saw seasoned World Cup racer and New Zealand downhill champion Wyn Masters, of Rotorua, clash with 16-year-old Daniel Franks, of Christchurch, to win the top medal.
Franks, riding for Yeti NZ, dominated the start and looked comfortable in the lead through the straights at the top of the course.
"I was anticipating the gate as the starter was dropping it at the same time every time and I got an awesome start and was a bike length ahead and feeling pretty good," Franks explained.
But in the third-to-last turn Masters played his hand.
"There was no way that I wasn't going to do it," Masters laughed afterward.
Masters leapt into the inside line, collided at full-speed with Franks and pushed him up onto the top of the berm.
"When I was a young rider that happened to me and I learned from it – it's good for him – he won't leave the gate open like that again, he won't take the outside line in that situation again," Masters grinned.
Franks did everything he could to avoid from going right over the berm and managed to regain control of his Yeti DJ and secure second place in the event.
"I wasn't able to turn as tight as I wanted on the hardtail and I lost a bit of traction and Wyn played his tactics well and managed to get underneath me. We had some contact – I knew it was going to happen – he kind of smashed me," Franks said.
"I had both feet on and was just trying to hold myself on the berm – my foot was right on the edge and I managed to get back on and hold onto second place."
Franks conceded that Masters' pass was a valuable learning experience for him.
"You have to go through these things to learn them and to make you a better rider," Franks offered later with a smile.
"I'm happy with second place today."
The 4X track at Signal Hill in Dunedin is the second biggest track in the world after a track in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. The Signal Hill track has approximately 90m of vertical and is 800m long. Race times on the all-new $20,000 course hovered about the 50-second mark.
Franks won the UCI Oceania junior Dual Slalom event on Thursday night and Masters won the open Dual Slalom on the same night, so it was fitting that they would trade blows in today's 4X final.
The next event for Franks is the U19 downhill on Sunday – an event he is looking forward to.
"The track's good, the Yeti 303 RDH has never worked better and we have some really fast Aussie riders over so it should be good," Franks said.
"We have Troy Brosnan here and he's on the same factory team as Sam Hill [Monster Energy Specialized] and has a lot of expectation behind him," Franks admitted.
Brosnan, of Adelaide, is slightly older than Franks and will be his biggest threat in Sunday's downhill race at Signal Hill.