New Zealand mountain bikers Anton Cooper and Samara Sheppard dominated the latest rounds of the Australian Mountain Bike National Series on the Gold Coast at the weekend. The double rounds were run on the course to be used for the Commonwealth Games.
Cooper, ranked seventh in the world, beat off the challenge of leading Australian Dan McConnell in round three on Saturday, with National MTB Performance hub rider, Ben Oliver third. Sheppard, who is based in Australia, beat Australian Rebecca McConnell, newly married wife of Dan, on Saturday with Queenstown’s Kate Fluker fourth.
Sheppard, who will defend her Oceania Championship title in Dunedin next month, said it had proven a useful race to compete on the full course for the Commonwealth Games, despite the brutally hot conditions.
The 27-year-old said she had only raced in conditions that hot once before when she suffered heat stroke in Switzerland. She drank nearly four litres of water during the race, winning in 1:27.21 by a margin of nearly five minutes to McConnell.
The pair then won the fourth round of the national series on Sunday, run on a shorter course than the previous day. Cooper prevailed in the men’s race with North Canterbury’s Oliver fourth, while Samara repeated the win ahead of Fluker, with the McConnells not racing.
All of the Commonwealth Games aspirants are expected to contest the Altherm Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Dunedin on 9-11 February, with entries closing on Sunday 21 February. Both the cross-country and downhill events will be staged at the famed Signal Hill, located behind the University of Otago and Logan Park. The event, to be hosted by Mountain Biking Otago in partnership with Cycling New Zealand and Mountain Bike New Zealand was last staged in Dunedin in 2010, with downhill at Signal Hill and cross-country at the nearby Forrester Park.
Work is progressing well on the courses and the organisation for the event, according Mountain Biking Otago spokesperson Kristy Booth. The club is looking for up to 130 volunteers to assist with the event. “We have about half the number we need, but we are very keen to get help from the local community to make this a successful event.”
Those keen to volunteer can do so with the link below: