NZ National Downhill Champs Race On New Crankworx Rotorua Course

Words by Bluedog Media | Images by John Colthorpe / / EIVOMEDIA

It was another brilliant first weekend at the Rotorua Bike Festival.

The main event of day 3 was the New Zealand Downhill Mountain Bike Championships on the newly-minted and very challenging course at Skyline on the slopes of Mount Ngongotaha. This was home to the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships. The top part of the course tracked Alden Ardern’s original race course of nine years ago. After the Larches the new trail took a radical new turn with an impressive rock garden and a gnar with a capital ‘g’, off-camber and hip jump section – with a big table-top to the finish line. UCI World Cup standard.
George Brannigan was the only rider to break the 3 minute barrier (by a gnat’s eyelash) with Trek team mate, Brook ‘The Bulldog’ MacDonald, in second, and Norco Racing’s Sam Blenkinsop in 3rd. Great memories for Blenki – he took silver in Junior Men in 2006 behind Kiwi team mate, Cam Cole. Alannah Columb won the Elite Women’s title ahead of Sarah Watkins and Sophie Tyas. Hot, dusty, sensational.
It’s been a top start to the 3rd Bike Festival with over 1700 entries, overall, in the first weekend. Much more to come over the next seven days.
In breaking news: one of the world’s top young racers (and the man with the best name in international mountain biking) Richie Rude will be joining Yeti team mate and current Enduro World Series world champ, Jared Graves (AUS), on the start line at next Saturday’s Giant 2W Gravity Enduro.
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