Strong Kiwi team named for mountain bike world championships

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A 28-strong team has been named to contest September’s UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Norway, announced today by BikeNZ and Mountain Bike New Zealand.

Ten riders, led by Commonwealth Games representatives Karen Hanlen, Kate Fluker, Anton Cooper and Sam Gaze, will contest the cross-country competition, while 18 riders, headed by world number two ranked Sam Blenkinsop, will compete in downhill competition.

Cross-country and downhill competition will take place at Hafjell with trials and cross-country eliminator racing taking place at Lillehammer, both alpine resorts that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Some of the Kiwi team have enjoyed considerable success at Hafjell since it joined the UCI World Cup circuit in 2012.

Trek World Racing rider George Brannigan was runner-up in downhill at the world cup in 2012 with compatriot Cameron Cole (Commencal Riding Addiction) sixth, while Blenkinsop (Lapierre International) was fourth last year, part of his outstanding and consistent form in 2013.

Cooper also enjoyed outstanding form at Hafjell in his under-23 debut in cross-country last year, finishing second in the World Cup.

Cross-country competition begins with the team relay on Wednesday 3 September followed by three days of individual racing with the downhill titles to be decided on Sunday 7 September.

The team is:

Downhill:

Men, Under 19: Peter Bethell (Auckland), Carl Coodwin (Kaiapoi), Connor Hamilton (Rotorua), Josh McCombie (Dunedin), Connor Sandri (Oamaru), Ben Watkins (Wanganui), Keegan Wright (Rotorua)

Elite: Sam Blenkinsop (Christchurch), George Brannigan (Havelock North), Cameron Cole (Christchurch), Brook Macdonald (Napier), Edward Masters (New Plymouth),Wyn Masters (New Plymouth), Matt Walker (Kawerau).

Elite Women: Sarah Atkin (Wellington), Alanna Columb (Queenstown), Veronique Sandler (Nelson), Sophie Tyas (Auckland).

Cross-country:

Women, Under 19: Harriet Beaven (Auckland).

Under 23: Amber Johnston (Rotorua).

Elite: Kate Fluker (Queenstown), Karen Hanlen (Whakatane). One to be added (subject to meeting selection requirements).

Men, Under 19: David Ashby-Coventry (Timaru), Jack Compton (Wellington), Gareth Cannon (Woodville), Ben Oliver (Rangiora)

Under 23: Anton Cooper (Woodend), Sam Gaze (Cambridge). One to be added (subject to meeting selection requirements).

Team Manager: Sam Thompson (Rotorua).

The schedule is (all Hafjell unless noted, all local time):

Tuesday 2 September: XCO Eliminator (Lillehammer)

Wednesday 3 SeptemberXCO Team Relay 

Thursday 4 September: XCO Juniors (women 1pm, Men 3pm)

Friday 5 September: XCO U23 (U23 Women 1pm, U23 Men 3.30pm)

Saturday 6 September: XCO Elite (Women 12.30pm, Men 3pm); DH Official Timed Session.

Sunday 7 September: DH all classes (Juniors noon, women 2pm, men 2.45pm).

CAPTION: Anton Cooper in recent World Cup action.

News Source : Strong Kiwi team named for mountain bike world championships
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