Anton Cooper will look to reclaim some of the form that was sadly missing due to illness last year, photo Mark Hamilton Photography

There is an exciting field of world class professional riders heading to Wanaka this weekend for the Altherm Mountain Bike National Championships.  Nearly 200 riders will compete in the two-day championships hosted by Bike Wanaka at the Cardrona Alpine Resort in the Crown Range with cross country competition on Saturday and downhill on Sunday.

There will be plenty of interest as riders vie for national titles in a big year for the sport that culminates with the world championships in Cairns.

Rupert Chapman faces stiff competition if he is to defend his downhill title, photo Barking Cat Photography

While 2016 men’s cross country champion, Sam Gaze is not racing due to international team commitments, focus turns to the 2015 under-23 cross-country world champion Anton Cooper who has entered in following his recovery from illness that thwarted much of his 2016 season. Cooper, who has returned to the Trek Factory Team this year, will also be working his way towards the 2017 season when he will look for selection to defend his Commonwealth Games title on the Gold Coast.

Queenstown’s Kate Fluker will defend her national title after recovering from a broken collarbone suffered at the world cup race in France last year.

There’s a mouth-watering prospect in the downhill competition with a stacked field of superstar gravity riders lining up including world 34 ranked Rupert Chapman (Pivot Factory Racing) who will defend his title against the likes of 14th ranked George Brannigan (Commencal Vallnord), world 27 Brook MacDonald (GT Factory Racing), Sam Blenkinsop (NORCO Factory Racing), Wyn Masters (GT Factory Racing) back from injury and his brother, world 38 ranked Ed Masters (Bergamont Factory Team) and Bryn Dickerson (FS Patrol Funn) among others.

Queenstown’s Alana Columb, who won the national and Oceania titles last year, will defend her New Zealand Championship in the Altherm elite women’s downhill competition.

There are also a raft of riders from the MTB National Performance hub entered, among them a number who performed with success in two rounds of the Australian series in New South Wales recently.

For the full fields click here

Alana Columb will be defending her downhill title in Wanaka, photo Barking Cat Photography


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