Buoyed by the overall season honours at Crankworx last weekend, national downhill champion Brook MacDonald is chasing success on the other side of Canada at this weekend’s UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
The 27 year old professional with the MS Mondraker team believes the super-fast and rough terrain of the long 2.9km downhill course suits him well for Monday’s race (NZ time).
MacDonald, who is over the sinus issues that bothered him at the Whistler race last weekend, has recorded a top-three World Cup podiums at Mont Sainte Anne, a resort in the Laurentian mountains, 40kms from Quebec City.
He is part of a 17-strong Altherm New Zealand elite downhill team chasing success in Canada.
MacDonald’s previous best at world championship level was a fifth at Hafjell in 2014.
“Mont Sainte Anne has been good to me. It’s a long course which is rough and fast and that suits my style,” MacDonald said.
He believes that less is more in his preparation this week.
“I don’t want to overdo it. It is a different preparation for the worlds because there are so many more practice days than we usually have for a world cup. It is a matter of balancing it out. It is all down to a one-off race.”
MacDonald believes he is getting to grips with the MS Mondraker machine, since they changed to mixed wheels with a 29er on the front and 27 on the back.
“It is giving me the extra seconds of speed which is so important especially on tracks like Mont Sainte Anne.
“I want to target a good time in the quali. I like to be one of the late riders on race day. For me that is a lot less stress than sitting on the Hot Seat watching and waiting [for] others. I’ve never been fazed riding as one of the late riders on the course.”
He is joined by six other kiwis in the elite male division including Sam Blenkinsop (Norco Factory) who has two podiums at the worlds to his credit with a third at Champery in 2011 and fourth at Pietermaritzberg in 2013.
National champion Kate Weatherly has made an excellent start to her fulltime international season, ranked sixth with a third placing at Leogang her best this year in the elite female division.
There’s considerable interest in the junior category, especially in the males with Rotorua’s Tuhoto-Ariki Pene who leads the Subway National Performance Hub riders. He had a World Cup victory at Val di Sole and was third at Lenzerheide.
The last time a New Zealand junior stood on top of the podium at a world championship was MacDonald in 2009.
Competition begins overnight with the first e-bike championship race, with cross-country races on Friday (junior), Saturday (under 23) and Sunday (elite). Downhill riders have the track walk tomorrow, practice Friday, qualifying on Saturday and race on Monday (all NZ time).
The Altherm New Zealand elite downhill team is:
Male: Sam Blenkinsop (Christchurch, Norco Factory), George Brannigan (Hawkes Bay, GT Factory), Brook MacDonald (Hawkes Bay, MS Mondraker Team), Ed Masters (New Plymouth, Pivot Factory), Wyn Masters (New Plymouth, GT Factory), Matt Walker (Rotorua, Pivot Factory), Keegan Wright (Rotorua).
Junior: Alex Barke (Queenstown, Subway Performance Hub), Sam Gale (Queenstown, Subway Performance Hub), Finn Hawkesby-Brown (Christchurch), Finn Parsons (Rotorua), Blake Ross (Auckland, Subway Performance Hub), Tuhoto-Ariki Pene (Rotorua, Subway Performance Hub), Louis Vuleta (Cambridge).
Female: Kate Weatherly (Auckland), Virginia Armstrong (Auckland). Junior: Fiona Murray (Wanaka).