UCI Mountainbike World Championships – NZ Day 5 Wrap
New Zealand has another cycling world champion after Hawkes Bay teenager Brook McDonald won the junior men’s downhill title at the UCI Mountainbike World Championships in Canberra today.
Third fastest in timed qualifying, McDonald clocked a superb 2:36.49 to win from Australian’s Shaun O’Connor by more than a second, in a time that would have placed him in the top 20 in the elite championship.
His victory is the seventh rainbow jersey won by New Zealand cyclists this year following Alison Shanks in the track individual pursuit, Sarah Walker in BMX and World Cruiser class, Sam Webster in the sprint and keirin and the NZ team in the team sprint at the world junior track championships.
McDonald’s win put the seal on an outstanding world championship for the New Zealand mountainbike team who earned five top-10 finishes today.
Christchurch’s Justin Leov, ranked number eight in the world, lived up to that ranking with eighth place in the elite men’s competition with Wanganui’s Sam Blenkinsop, No 7 in the world, finishing 15th.
The other top-10 finishers went to George Brannigan (Hawkes Bay) and Tauranga’s Daniel Heads who were seventh and eighth respectively in the junior men while Alexandra’s Georgia Wright was fifth in the junior women.
Great Britain veteran Steve Peat scored an emotional victory in the elite men’s championship. The 35-year-old, four times world championship runner-up in a stellar 16-year career finally claimed the one major title that has previously eluded him.
He was only 5/100ths of a second ahead of his professional team-mate Greg Minnaar (South Africa), who won the World Cup on the course at Mt Stromlo Forest Park last year.
There was heartache in the kiwi camp for in-form Christchurch rider Cameron Cole, who was challenging for a medal until a broken chain ended his hopes. Cole, sixth in a recent world cup in South Africa, set the third fastest time in practice. As the 17th to last rider, Cole was more than a second up on the fastest time at that stage before his chain broke on the rocky section of the track.
In the women’s elite competition, Emmeline Ragot (France) upset last year’s Canberra winner Tracey Moseley (GBR) and favourite Sabrina Jonnier (FRA).
American Kathleen Pruitt, who only qualified in 19th place, led until the final three runs when Ragot, runner-up in five World Cups this year, produced the winning run. Moseley could not match her time while Jonnier, the form rider this year, crashed after suffering a flat tyre halfway down the course.
Junior men: Brook McDonald (NZL) 2:36.49, 1; Shaun O’Connor (AUS) 2:37.67, 2; Danny Hart (GBR) 2:38.76, 3. Other New Zealanders: George Brannigan 2:41.97, 7; Daniel Heads 2:42.89, 8; Richard Leacock 2:45.14, 13; Rupert Chapman 2:46.86, 18; Ethan Helliwell 2:59.29, 34; Aari Barrett 2:55.51, 38.
Junior women: Anais Pajot (FRA) 3:11.91, 1; Julie Berteaux (FRA) 3:16.28, 2; Holly Baarspul (AUS) 3:20.16, 3. New Zealand: Georgia Wright 3:30.53, 5.
Elite women: Emmeline Ragot (FRA) 2:50.05, 1; Tracy Moseley(GBR) 2:52.54, 2; Kathleen Pruitt (USA) 2:54.89, 3. New Zealanders: Harriet Harper 3:09.89, 16; Gabrielle Molloy 3:13.86, 18; Amy Laird 3:19.62, 20; Olivia Johnson 3:37.96, 24.
Elite men: Steve Peat (GBR) 2:30.33, 1; Greg Minnaar (ZAF) 2:30.38, 2; Michael Hannah (AUS) 2:31.02, 3. New Zealanders: Justin Leov 2:34.32, 8; Sam Blenkinsop 2:37.47, 17; Matthew Scoles 2:39.68, 29; Kieran Bennett 2:40.28, 36; Nathan Rankin 2:40.84, 37; Cameron Cole 2:46.66, 46; Wyn Masters 2:51.93, 50.
Full results: www.uci.ch
Photos: New Zealand elites Sam Blenkinsop (No 7) and Justin Leov (No 8) in action at the UCI Mountainbike World Championships at Mt Stromlo Forest Park, Canberra. Leov finished eighth and Blenkinsop 15th in the elite men’s downhill today.