Olympian Karen Hanlen showed her class to win the elite women’s race at the cross-country round of the New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup series on Mt Victoria, Wellington today. The 32 year old from Whakatane moved her way up the field to take a substantial lead in the last laps of the race. Her winning time of 1:37.04 was over three minutes ahead of second place Kate Fluker, 25, from Queenstown, who finished in 1:40.25.
Under 23 national cross-country champion, Samara Sheppard, 22, now riding in the elite ranks, snatched third place off fellow Wellington star Kim Hurst, 34, during the last lap, riding a bike borrowed from Hurst after discovering a crack in her own.
Despite winning by over three minutes, Hanlen was under no illusion of the skill of her fellow competitors. “I’m absolutely stoked. It was a hard track and good competition, so I’m rapt to win it,” said Hanlen. “I quite enjoyed the downhill section, I had heaps of fun once I got into it. I’m looking forward to the National Championships in Rotorua, I might have a bit of work to do though.”
Rotorua riders took the trifecta in the elite men’s race, with 21 year old Dirk Peters winning in a time of 1:36.28, followed by Sam Shaw, 20, with 1:39.04, and Carl Jones, 24, in 1:39.50. “It was bloody brutal climbing, and with the heat today it was hard work. But it was good; I sorted everyone out so it was a good race. I can’t wait for the nationals at Rotorua,” Peters said.
Riders are now gearing up for the mountain bike National Championships, only two weeks away in Rotorua, February 17–February 19. The National Championships also serve as the feature event of the inaugural Rotorua Bike Festival.
The New Zealand MTB Cup Series continues next weekend, with both downhill and cross-country rounds in Hunua, Auckland.
Elite men: Dirk Peters (Rotorua) 1:36.28, 1, Sam Shaw (Rotorua) 1:39.04, 2, Carl Jones (Rotorua) 1:39.50, 3.
Elite women: Karen Hanlen (Whakatane) 1:37.04, 1, Kate Fluker (Queenstown) 1:40.15, 2, Samara Sheppard (Wellington) 1:43.39, 3.
For full results click here.