The Kiwi XC racers took up the baton at Val di Sole on the weekend, with Sam Gaze taking a great win in the Junior race and Dirk Peters a fine 9th in the U23 (Anton Cooper didn't start due to an ongoing illness). The gravity riders had a weekend to forget though, with Blenki the best in 21st ahead of Wyn and Brook in 22nd and 24th. The Athertons continued their great form and won both races in a repeat from last week at Fort William. Catch a replay of the DH here...
Cambridge teenager Sam Gaze scored an outstanding win in his UCI Mountain Bike World Cup debut in Italy today.
The 17 year old took out the junior boys’ cross-country race in emphatic style at Val di Sole to cap an excellent weekend for two Kiwi cross-country riders.
Gaze, the current national and Oceania champion, dominated the field to win in 1:12.36 with Italy’s Gioele Bertolini 45 seconds behind.
Rotorua’s Dirk Peters took up the cudgels in the absence of an ill Anton Cooper to finish an excellent ninth in the under-23 cross-country race.
He was under four minutes behind the winner Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) to emphasize his improvement on his European campaign.
There were no fortunes for the other cross-country riders nor the downhill men with both Brook MacDonald and Cameron Cole crashing today.
MacDonald, who had qualified fourth fastest, lost his saddle in the crash while Cole, who crashed heavily in qualifying, fell again on the brutal Val di Sole course.
Best of the Kiwis was Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre International In 21st place ahead of Taranaki’s Wyn Masters.
There is a six-week break until the next combined World Cup in Vallnord, Andora.
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Val di Sole (ITA)
Elite women: Tanya Sakelj (SLO) 1:36.37, 1; Katerina Nash (CZE) at 20s, 2; Emily Batty (CAN) at 50s, 3. Also NZers: Samara Sheppard (Toka Print) 1 lap, 38; Kate Fluker at 1 lap, 43; Katie O’Neill at 2 laps 44.
Elite men: Nino Schurter (SUI) 1:32,47, 1; Julien Absalon (FRA) at 3s, 2; Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) at 1:57, 3. Also: Carl Jones (NZL) at 1 lap, 54.
Men under-23: Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) 1:22.43, 1; Daniele Braidot (ITA) at 1:19, 2; Nicholas Pettina (ITA) at 2:04, 3. Also NZers: Dirk Peters at 3:51, 9; Sam Shaw (NZL) at 9:35, 29; Adrian Retief at 2 laps, 61.
Junior: Sam Gaze (NZL) 1:12.36, 1; Gioele Bertolini (ITA) at 45s, 2; Jan Vastl (CZE) at 1:25, 3.
Elite men: Gee Atherton (GBR) 3:12.185, 1; Steve Smith (CAN) at 1.001, 2; Greg Minnaar (RSA) at 1.250, 3. Also New Zealanders: Sam Blenkins0 (Lapierre International) at 12.377, 21; Wyn Masters (New Plymouth) at 12.572, 2; Brook MacDonald (Trek World RacingO at 12.775, 24; Ed Masters (New Plymouth) at 13.194, 26; Cameron Cole (Yeti Fox Shox) at 14.899, 36; Reece Potter at 21.869, 55; George Brannigan (Trek World Racing) at 24.283, 63;
Elite women: Rachel Atherton (GBR) 3:43.810, 1; Emmeline Ragot (FRA) at 5.235, 2; Floriane Pugin (FRA) at 12.053, 3.
Junior men: Dean Lucas (AUS) 3:24.630, 1; Phil Atwill (GBR) at 0.160, 2; Luca Shaw (USA) at 0.188, 3. Also New Zealanders: Raphael Kammlein-Cutler at 23.397, 38; Lawrence Cawte at 24.601, 29; Jamahl Stringer at 43.431,