Big weekend 2 of Festival 1
Media release: February 13
The 1st Rotorua Bike Festival 2013 – a big 2nd and final weekend...
Two times Elite Women’s Downhill World Champion, Emmeline Ragot, will take on the Taniwha in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest, this Sunday.
As a Frenchwoman she won’t be eligible for the 2013 New Zealand title. However, she will be part of a star-studded line up at this weekend’s Mountain Bike National Championships on the fearsome and dramatic course.
“I know the Taniwha track from 4 years ago and and I really like this course,” says Ragot. The French professional is one of the most talented riders on the international circuit. She is looking forward to sampling the world-famous trails in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest.
“I’ll be in Rotorua all week and I’ve already tried a couple of trails on my cross-country bike,” says Ragot. “It’s really good to ride here, there are all the tracks that we need - Rotorua trails are awesome.”
The French professional is in New Zealand racing alongside La Pierre teammate, Sam Blenkinsop. The Kiwi pro is looking to continue his domination of the New Zealand summer season at the National Championships. He’s taken out three rounds of the national series, but won’t have it all his own way in Rotorua.
The 1st Rotorua Bike Festival will end with one of the best fields of downhill racers competing in a New Zealand Championships for a long time.
The cream of the country’s downhill talent - including former Junior World Downhill Champions, Brook MacDonald and Cam Cole, and local favourite, Louis Hamilton - will be racing. The Rotorua downhill always attracts a big crowd of spectators and this year will be no different.
Photos: Team Lapierre teammates, Ragot and Blankinsop...
The 2013 Mountain Bike National Championships begins on Saturday with the cross-country and another top line-up of riders, including 2012 Junior World Champion, Anton Cooper.
The 18-year-old won the world title in Austria last September and is the first New Zealand mountain biker to win a rainbow jersey in the Olympic discipline of cross-country.
“It is a huge honour to have a rainbow jersey to my name and something I am very proud of,” says Cooper. “It feels great to bring it home and I look forward to racing the Nationals champs with a world title to my name.”
The National Championships will kick off a big year for the Cooper. He will race the UCI World Cup series as a full-time professional.
He’s excited to be racing on the Rotorua mountain bike trails..
“I’ve only ever done 2 races in Rotorua and they were just small ones,” he says with his trademark grin. “I think the flowy nature of the trails is a lot different to the places I normally race on, which is good for variety - and the amount of trails, here, is endless!”
Like Blenkinsop, Cooper won’t have an easy ride. Locals, like Dirk Peters and Carl Jones, know the Whakarewarewa trails like their own hands.
In the Elite Women’s cross-country, London Olympian, Karen Hanlen from Whakatane will start favourite after a dominant win at last weekend’s national series round at Hunua.
Photos: Anton Cooper and Karen Hanlen.
The final weekend of the 10-day Bike Festival is a mouthwatering prospect for Kiwi mountain bike and BMX fans as some of the sports biggest stars arrive in Rotorua.
“This is probably the biggest weekend of cycling the city has experienced since we hosted the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships in 2006,” says Martin Croft, from Rotorua Events & Venues.
The weekend starts early with the opening of the More FM Bike Expo at the Rotorua Convention Centre at midday on Friday.
The Expo features a variety of bike exhibits including historical bikes and some innovative and pioneering local bike builders.
On Friday evening mountain bike racing will return to Skyline Skyrides on Mount Ngongotaha for the first time since Rotorua hosted the 2006 Mountain Bike World Championships.
Interest in the Skyline Sprint Warrior is so great that organizers have had to impose a strict limit on entries.
“Because riders will gondola up to the top of the course, we’ve had to make sure everything will run smoothly,” says Tak Mutu from Mountain Bike Rotorua, who took on the task of building the trail for the one-off, one-time event just a month ago.
“There are going to be a lot of riders who want to race the Warrior who will miss out, so hopefully we can organize another event on the new trail soon.”
BMX Rotorua’s National Qualifiers are on Saturday.
BikeNZ's high performance Olympic squad London silver medalist, Sarah Walker, Marc Willers and Kurt Pickard will all be there. The Rotovegas Jumps Jam will take the action at BMX Rotorua’s HQ into the twilight with some spectacular action.
It's a busy week for the local BMX club who will be hosting both Bicycle Speedway and TV show Crowd Goes Wild on Thursday evening.
"Speedway is for cyclists of all sorts wanting to have a go on a short, fast course," says BMX Rotorua's Chris Newson. "Crowd Goes Wild will be crossing live into the show between 7 and 7.30PM, so we want everyone to come down and race - or just make some noise!"
Enduro mountain biking makes its debut in Rotorua on Sunday.
The Giant 2W Gravity Enduro is a multi-stage race that will highlight the fast, undulating trails the Whakarewarewa Network is renowned for.
Enduro combines the endurance of a cross-country athlete and the technical skills of an experienced mountain biker.
Rosara Joseph is one of New Zealand’s top cross-country riders of the last decade and will be on the start line. She represented New Zealand in cross-country at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, UCI World Cups and World Championships and won silver at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne
She’s a fan of the new Enduro format.
“It combines fitness and strength with fast, technical riding. It's mentally and physically challenging - and a whole lot of fun,” she says.
Joseph has fond memories of riding the Rotorua trails.
“There's such variety in such a small space - jumps tracks, smooth swooping tracks, steep and rooty tracks - it's all around fabulous,” she continues.
Joseph has raced in Rotorua at rounds of the National Series, Oceania Championships and the World Championships in 2006.
“My favourite racing memory from Rotorua would be those World Champs in 2006,” she says with a grin. “It was early in my racing career and I absolutely loved racing at home, on a great track and with a supportive and raucous crowd.”
The weather has been perfect for the festival so far and the forecast is for fine, hot weather through till Sunday.
“The Festival has gone really well up till now,” says Martin Croft. “If you’re a Kiwi bike fan and not in Rotorua already, you probably should be.”
Photo: Rosara Joseph.