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Mike Northcott of Tokoroa won the Elite Mens category at the first round of the RaboPlus NZ Mountain Bike Cups presented by Nature Valley today by a bike length, sprinting to cross the line just before Stuart Houltham (Lower Hutt) who placed second. Northcott and Houltham raced strongly alongside local rider and international road cycling talent and Classics specialist Clinton Avery who crashed on a treacherously slippery descent just 2km from the end of the race when leading by 20 seconds.
Rotorua’s Annika Smail took the title for the Women’s Elite category, winning the race by a large margin in a comprehensive display. Monique Avery (Rotorua) in her first year as an Elite rider placed second with a strong ride, with Nicole Swain (Lower Hutt) placing third.
The course situated in the Whakarewarewa Forest contained a mix of singletrack, fire roads and technically testing sections including a 300m climb per lap and was highly enjoyed by riders. The winner of the Pro Elite Men category – Mike Northcott said ‘the course was awesome, fast and flowy’. The rain came beating down during the last lap of the elite riders race but was no hinderance to those wanting to take the win “the rain slowed us down a bit but we just pulled back a bit and rode with more caution” Northcott said.
The U19 Men’s race saw the 2 fastest average lap times of the day (albeit pre rain) from Patrick Avery and Dirk Peters. Patrick and Dirk pushed each other to a thrilling sprint finish – demonstrating some fine form and preparation. As part of the Rotorua XC Development Squad, both riders will attend the upcoming Canberra UCI World Cup.
Event Organiser Paul Larkin was very pleased with the turnout, with a total of 140 riders racing Round 1 of the North Island Cross Country Cup on a new course for the race.
Event Safety providers Peak Safety (peaksafety.co.nz) deserve a huge thanks for their professional management and will be running first aid courses for Mountainbikers at the end of January. Check their website for details.
This was the first race in the series of three, with the next round in the series being held at Woodhill Mountain Bike Park, 40 minutes from central Auckland on January 10th, 2009.
Tomorrow (Sunday) will see the first race day of the Downhill competition, also in Rotorua. Racing starts from 10am.
Results - North Island Cross Country Cup Round 1 – Rotorua
1 Mike Northcott Tokoroa 1:50:20 hrs, 2 Stuart Houltham Lower Hutt 1:50:21 hrs, 3 Clinton Avery Rotorua 1:51:10hrs
1 Annika Smail Rotorua 1:33:51 hrs, 2 Monique Avery Rotorua 1:41:14hrs, 3 Nicole Swain Lower Hutt 1:44:10 hrs