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New Zealand MTB Championship Series Kicks Off

Round one of the 2001 New Zealand Mountain Biking national championship series got going January 6-7, in Levin. Downhill opened the competition, as riders tackled a steep 2km course that was smooth, fast, and very dusty.

In the women’s race Sheryl MacLeod (Haro) came down in a flurry, posting a time of 3:30.70 to claim her first win of the season. Current European champion Tracy Mosely (Kona-Ford Focus) finished second, four seconds back, while Vanessa Quin (Giant) was third.

On the men’s side, 2000 series’ winner Glenn Sisarich wasn’t around, meaning the race was wide open. Nathan Rankin (Foes-Azonic) was quickest down the hill, putting up a time of 3:12.07. In second was John Kirkcaldie (Maxxis Tires), just .57 of a second back. This was a familiar theme for Rankin and Kirkaldie, who finished third and fourth respectively in the 2000 NORBA downhill series.

Sunday’s cross-country took place on a steamy, cloudless day. The race was contested on a partially forested course that contained two vicious climbs and some muddy patches in between.

Reigning New Zealand champion Susy Pryde (Avanti) reeled in an early break by Sadie Parker (Trek-Volkswagen), and led the rest of the way, winning in 1:46:47. Parker wound up second more than four minutes back. And in a repeat of the finishing order from the 2000 series, Lisa Savage (Giant) finished strongly to take third.

In the men’s race, a nine-lap affair on the 9km course, brothers Jeremy and Stuart Houltham pushed the pace early with Kurt Lancaster and Paul Bishop (K2) in close pursuit. But Jeremy punctured on the second lap falling far off the pace. From there Stuart and Bishop battled with Stuart pulling out the race at the finish in a time of 2:25:09. Wayne Hiscock ended up third and Jeremy clawed his way back from his flat to finish fourth.

Round two of the series is January 20-21 in Tokoroa.

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