Wanganui mountain biker Sam Blenkinsop cemented another outstanding season to finish fifth overall in the UCI World Cup downhill series that concluded in Austria today.
The Lapierre Gravity Republic rider was seventh in the final round in Leogang today, where a podium placing would have pushed him into the top three for the season.
Fellow Kiwi George Brannigan (Trek World Racing) grabbed the hot seat for the fastest run before it was whittled away, finally settling for 13th place. Blenkinsop’s teammate Loic Bruni went three seconds faster than the Kiwi to set the pace before Canadian Steve Smith bettered that.
World Cup leader Gee Atherton could only manage fourth fastest to give Smith the overall honours for the year, with Bruno’s run edging him up to fourth overall just ahead of Blenkinsop.
The New Zealander, who was third overall in the World Cup in 2010, has enjoyed a consistently strong year, finishing in the top-12 on six of the seven rounds.
Taranaki’s Wyn Masters followed up his excellent 17th placing at the world championships with 21st today ahead of Matt Walker 57th and his brother Ed in 72nd.
The Kiwi women missed out on qualifying in the elite competition where Queenstown’s Alanna Columb has finished 19th for the season.
In the junior men’s competition Dunedin’s Raphael Kammlein-Cutler was 25th and Auckland’s Kyle Lockwood 37th.
Elite men: Steve Smith (CAN) 3:23,959, 1; Loic Bruni (FRA) 3:25.270, 2; Michael Hannah (AUS) 3:25.893, 3. Also NZers: Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre Gravity Republic) 3:28.279, 7; George Brannigan (Trek World Racing) 3:31.530, 13; Wyn Masters (Team Bulls) 3:33.337, 21; Matt Walker 3:39.905, 57; Ed Masters 3:42.646, 72;
Final standings: Smith 1199, 1; Gee Atherton (GBR) 1121, 2; Greg Minnaar (RSA) 673, 3. Also: Blenkinsop 654, 5; Brook MacDonald (Trek World Racing) 338, 23 (missed 2 rounds injury); Brannigan 305, 29; Wyn Masters 205, 42; Ed Masters 165, 48; Walker 133, 59; Cam Cole 119, 63 (missed 4 rounds injury).
Elite women: Emmeline Ragot (FRA) 3:52.866, 1; Rachel Atherton (GBR) 3:53.368, 2; Manon Carpenter (GBR) 3:57.683, 3.
Final standings: Atherton 1295, 1; Ragot 1165, 2; Carpenter 1045, 3. Also NZers: Alanna Columb 85, 19;
Junior men: Noel Niederberger (SUI) 3:34.480, 1; Loris BGergier (FRA) 3:35.633, 2; Michael Jones (GBR) 3:35.763, 3;