NZ Open Race Report – Words by Amie Marsh
After a spell of hot dry weather, a short but challenging track in Christchurch’s Victoria Park tested some of the worlds top elite riders in the first round of the New Zealand National series in the MTBNZ Gravity Canterbury Open.
With 113 entrants and a stacked elite field including the likes of Nick Beer, Bernard Kerr, Richie Rude Jr, Cam Cole, Sam Blenkinsop, Wyn Masters & George Brannigan to name a few, a weekend of tight racing brought in a large crowd of spectators who lined the track to catch a glimpse of the non stop action on this steep course which was catching out the worlds best.
The shifting deep dust added to the challenge of the steepness, rocks and roots that dominate much of this track. George Brannigan from Trek World Racing, proved he was the most consistent riding on the hill, taking the elite mens qualification and race win with a time of 2.15.62. Lappiere’s Sam Blenkinsop came in with a close 2nd place, followed by local rider Rupert Chapmen, Pivot Bikes rider Bernard Kerr and then Kieren Bennett for Zerode Bikes rounded off the podium.
Junior mens was won by Joshua McCombie in a time of 2.27.17, closely followed by Keegan Wright in 2nd and Connor Hamilton in 3rd.
Four women took to the hill this weekend with the race winner, Bob (Harriett) Latchem, taking the win in a time of 3.03.22.
With more entrants in open, masters, under 17 and under 15, and riders from all over New Zealand and Europe taking part, this was a great start to the New Zealand National race season under the newly reformed Mountain Bike NZ. Round 2 will follow in Nelson on January 31/Feb 1, with an equally exciting track and once again a star studded start list is expected.
New Zealand will also be hosting the Oceania Championship’s on the 14,15 16th March 2014 at Mount Hutt.
The full results from this first round can be found here.
And here’s a little gallery from the weekends racing…