NZ International Riders - What's in store for 2017?

Here in New Zealand there is a pretty big group of riders competing on the international stage, from DH to enduro, freeride to XC there is loads of talent out there flying the flag. We thought the new year was a great time to catch up with a few of them them and find out their plans for 2017. 

Kieran Bennett

DH and Enduro racer, Kieran, is dividing his time between the two disciplines this year racing for his main sponsor Santa Cruz Bicycles. In amongst all the racing he is planning some pretty exciting film trips, look out for them on a computer screen near you over the coming months!  He says, "Its going to be another busy summer for racing for me in New Zealand. My focus has been moving more towards the enduro racing side these last couple of years, I am enjoying the new challenge and have been steadily improving. My plans are to  hit all the main events, DME, NZ Enduro, Rotorua EWS and basically anything else I can fit in between. My goal is to win!"

Kieran Bennett at the Mammoth Enduro, Nelson

Kieran Bennett at the Mammoth Enduro, Nelson

Meggie Bichard

Nelson based Meggie will be racing her second year for Fuji bikes aboard the 27.5" Auric and the 29" Rakan, all built with some choice equipment from Fox, Shimano, Hutchinson tyres, Crankbrothers and Stages power meters. Meggie is turning back toward the Enduro World Series for next year, "In 2017 I am re-focusing on the EWS after a successful 2016 racing lots of multi-day Trans events in the USA and Europe.  The standard in the ladies field at EWS is growing all the time and I am excited to maximise my preparation, stay strong all season and test myself against the best."

Image - Sven Martin

Image - Sven Martin

Rae Morrison

Rae is an enduro pinner making her way back from a season ending injury in 2016 where she broke her heel. This year Rae is racing for Liv Cycling supported by the Giant Off-Road Factory Team. Rae is excited to be riding for a women's team; "I will be working with Liv to promote and support women’s riding. This includes racing under their banner, media work and articles including contributing to the ‘How to..’ guides on the website . I will also be travelling around the world for 6 months chasing the EWS, but also basing myself in Whistler for 3 months which I’m thoroughly looking forward to!"

Rae will be aboard her new Liv Hail

Rae will be aboard her new Liv Hail

Joe Nation

Joe will once again be racing on the Bergamont Factory Team, this year focussing on the Enduro World Series. The goal, he says  "To get myself a solid top 20 overall placing. I’ll be racing most races aboard the new Trailster Carbon frame which I have recently been testing, I’m excited to get racing on it. I have also signed up for the Trans BC which will be my first adventure style race." Joe will be in New Zealand and racing some enduro races over here so he can gauge his pace coming into the international race season. 

Joe smashing turns at the Dodzy Memorial Enduro. Image - Digby Shaw

Joe smashing turns at the Dodzy Memorial Enduro. Image - Digby Shaw

Keegan Wright

Giant and Wideopen rider Keegan Wright has had an awesome start to 2017 after getting presented with a $25,000 scholarship courtesy of the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro race series. His goal this year is to try and make it onto a pro team, he says "The scholarship is allowing me to get out and race a lot of races. I'll need to get some solid results and give it my best shot on getting on a team." He will be racing seven of the eight Enduro World Series rounds, five DH World Cups and also taking part in the Crankworx World Tour. "I cannot wait to get the trip started with the first stop on my back door step with Crankworx Rotorua and then overseas from there!"

Keegan says he's really looking forward to racing in Madeira, Portugal for round three of the Enduro World Series and also Ireland, "I've heard so many awesome things about the Ireland round so can't wait to race there! That crowd looks wild!"

Keegan looking at home on the Rotorua trails

Keegan looking at home on the Rotorua trails

Loui Harvey

You might not have heard of him, but Loui has been ripping up the trails in Nelson since he was a kid, now he's heading out to try his hand at the Enduro World Series. As of April this year, his plan is to travel Europe with his partner Jess, to race and experience all the new things that come his way. 

He says "I have entered six EWS rounds including the New Zealand, Australian and all four of the European rounds. This year will be a year of learning as it is my first season on tour.  I will be looking to compete in as many other races throughout Europe as possible as well."

"I am super excited about all the EWS rounds but in particular round eight in Finale, Italy as I have heard only positives about the place and event.  Other than the EWS rounds I loved competing in this year’s Dodzy Memorial Enduro held at the Wairoa Gorge not far from Nelson."

Loui knows the Nelson trails like the back of his hand

Loui knows the Nelson trails like the back of his hand

Jamie Nicoll

In 2017 Jamie is continuing with support from Santa Cruz Bicycles international, he says he will work year round with a small Santa Cruz Bicycles team on special marketing projects, leading trips all over the world into new places and exploring places, creating stories and inspiring riders: "I can't say much more but you will see and understand more as the year rolls out." There is no contract in place for Jamie to race as such but he's still got a busy bike year ahead working on these projects. 

Jamie says he can and will still race, but on a small scale, "My biggest event in the books is the famed and my favourite Trans Provence in June. But I also raced the NZ Dodzy memorial, I will race the NZ Enduro, plus EWS Rotorua too, with all these local events holding a strong pro rider field - its going to be good. NZ Enduro for example will be the highest pro attended event world wide out side the EWS this year!"

Not contacted to race in 2017, Jamie will be off adventuring!

Not contacted to race in 2017, Jamie will be off adventuring!

Conor Macfarlane

Only last month we heard that Connor Macfarlane would be teaming up with Intense Cycles for 2017, he'll be taking the new bikes to all four events of the Crankworx tour, some EWS rounds, Loosefest and (he hopes) to Rampage!  Conor says "If I get into Rampage that is what I will be looking forward to the most. My goals will be to ride bikes, have fun and get to the bottom of a run at Rampage!"

New team, new sponsors for Conor Macfarlane in 2017

New team, new sponsors for Conor Macfarlane in 2017

Wyn Masters

Wyn is sticking with GT Factory Racing for 2017 and will be racing a full World Cup DH circuit plus most of the EWS events. He said "Favourites would be Crankworx Rotorua its good to race at home, Fort William World Cup just is also one of the best events of the year. I want to enjoy my riding and racing and get consistent results in both World Cup Downhill and EWS events, continue to do heaps of wheelies and put out content every week!"

Wyn has been warming up for the year ahead by racing the DHCoNZ

Wyn has been warming up for the year ahead by racing the DHCoNZ