Unstoppable. Josie Wilcox and Cosmo Bloor stamped their authority on the Cyclezone Winter MTB series in Rotorua today as each made strong statements to their respective rivals, winning the day to make it two from two for the series.
In a year where seemingly every major MTB event in Rotorua had been impacted by rain, the weather gods finally shone on the Winter Series. Quite literally; as the 600 competitors were greeted by a crisp but clear morning as the fabled trails once again played host to some fantastic racing.
“It’s great to see the next generation of riders breaking through with great performances across all the race distances,” said race director Tim Farmer, as fresh faces and Junior talent dominated the top of the results sheet. “We really try and cater to everyone, and to see the new faces coming through really does give us great satisfaction.”
In the feature Long Course event, Men’s winner Cosmo Bloor was delighted with his victory. The surprise he had felt with his race 1 breakthrough, now replaced with a quiet confidence that saw him play his cards perfectly. “It was really tough out there. The pace was really on, and while we didn’t really let up, it did become a bit tactical between the three of us. I was lucky to time my move well and make it stick.”
After nearly 2 hours of tough racing, trailing Bloor by a mere 3 seconds at the finish was Brad Jones, and just 9 seconds further back the events surprise package in Kyle Smith. A name and face unfamiliar to most on the startline, Smith surprised even himself with his performance.
“Today was a big surprise and a big confidence boost for me” said Smith, as he builds toward October’s XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon World Championship. Despite his obvious athletic pedigree, Smith remains a real rookie when it comes to MTB racing. “I did do a couple of races a couple of years ago, but nothing serious. Coming in I knew I had a good engine, and I did used to do a little Motocross and BMX, so I loved the technical descents. But yeah, I’m super happy to make the podium!”
While the men played out a tough and tactical battle, the performance of Josie Wilcox was in complete contrast. Simply riding away in a dominant performance to not only win by 10min, but beat home 90% of the men’s field as well.
Since emerging as a fresh face just two months ago at the Craters Classic, the Manawatu based Wilcox continues to go from strength to strength, and the days challenging hills played right into her hands as she simply road away. “Yeah I love the hills to be honest!” And perhaps scarily for her rivals, she still sees much room for improvement on the trails. “I don’t get a huge amount of practice on technical singletrack. But I’m improving for sure, the more I get to ride that kinda stuff.”
Crossing over to MTB after a successful collegiate running career, Wilcox is loving the change and is racing everything she can. “I’m seeing improvement because I’m racing a lot at the moment. The Manawatu MTB Club series is absolutely awesome for getting more racing in.”
While Wilcox rode a solitary race out front, the battle for 2nd was intense as Samantha Kingsford bested Fiona MacDermid by a mere 3 seconds
With just 5 weeks until the series finale on September, competitors will be training hard to try and turn the tables. Can anyone stop Wilcox and Bloor? Will we see yet more fresh faces on the top step of the podium? Or will we see a series clean sweep. Only time will tell.