And so to to the business end of the World Championships programme, with Elite XC and DH on the weekend's menu. Yesterday was a tough day for the kiwis. The men's U23 XC race was brutal, with a field of the highest quality spelling a warning for any athlete not within touch of the front of the race. With RSA's Burry Stander lapping in 17s, the three kiwis got pulled on the 80% rule, Carl Jones riding a gutsy race to just miss out on a final 6th lap by mere seconds.
Tim Jurgens attacked his 26" Trials semi with nothing to loose, and will head to the Rotorua World Cup with a clear goal in mind now knowing what he is up against.
DH qualifying went well, with the kiwi contingent prominent in the top ten in all categories - but its difficult to know who was foxing and who wasn't during this largely academic run. This year the qualifying run is not a seeding run, and athletes will start their finals Sunday race in the same order they started yesterdays qualifier, regardless of their qualifying time. The devastating news from this session for the NZ Team was Aari Barrett's broken finger. Surgery last night was avoided, in lieu of stabilising the break and Aari is keeping positive about possibly acheiving his dream on Sunday - watch this space.
4X was one that got away on Eddie Masters and Matt Walker last night in the first round. Matt a fighting 3rd and Eddie generating so much power on his second pedal stroke out of the gate he broke his chain. This was a massive event with a huge crowd on Stromlo, and means the venue will be swamped for the weekend.
The kiwi Elite XC racers are all set to race their biggest challenge today, and the gravity crew absolutely fizzing for capturing those podium results tomorrow.
There is massive NZ support at this event - it seems like most of the NZ Cup regulars are all here and more. The boys commented yesterday on being able to recognise NZ cheering all the way down the DH course during qualifying and are pumped to know they were so well supported.