Conditions challenge at World Championships

Wet and cold conditions turned an already brutally tough course into a treacherous one for New Zealand’s under-19 cross-country riders at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Andorra today.

Rotorua’s Nathan Johnston was the only Kiwi male rider to finish in 45th placing while Jemma Manchester (Auckland) and Shannon Hope (Dunedin) were 31st and 32nd respectively in the girls’ race. Continual rain, which became heavy later in the day, made for super-slippery conditions requiring riders to carry bikes on foot for sections of the course. Johnston made an excellent start but lost ground when he fell on the second lap, eventually finishing in 45th place.

Tauranga’s Harrison Mudgway did remarkably well to get to the start line after his bike arrived late and he came down with tonsillitis while Wanaka’s Paul Wright had an injured shoulder from a crash last week.

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Despite the challenges, including being unable to ride the track in training, both riders made the decision to line-up. A further fall in the conditions forced Wright out while Mudgway was not well enough to complete in the cold temperatures after the first lap.

Conditions were slightly better earlier in the day for the girls’ race, with both Manchester and Hope keying off each other to finish with solid performances.

 The focus turns to the all-important under-23 mean’s race with Anton Cooper (Woodend) on the front row and Sam Gaze (Cambridge) on the third row along with Jack Compton (Wellington) and Rangiora brothers Craig and Ben Oliver.