The 2005 New Zealand Community Trust MTB Championships on February 25-27 will be the first test of the brand new courses and venue on Mount Ngongotaha that will be used for the UCI World Mountain Bike and Trials Championships in Rotorua in August next year. The course builders are looking forward to getting feedback from riders on all three courses to help tweak and fine tune for the 2006 Oceania Mountain Bike Champs in March and then the World's, five months later.
"It’s also great to be hosting the one-off Nationals," said 2006 Media Director, Graeme Simpson. "We will have two Kiwi World downhill champions racing - Junior World Champ Scarlett Hagen from Queenstown and Elite Women’s World Champ Vanessa Quin from Tauranga. How often do we get to say that about any sport in New Zealand?"
Hagen and Quin won their World Championship medals and the coveted UCI rainbow jerseys within a few hours of each other in Les Gets in France in September 2004. "Having the World Champs in Rotorua is very exciting for New Zealand cycling," Hagen said. "It will make New Zealanders more aware of the rad surroundings we have for mountain biking and I think will help the sport grow and develop here. The nationals will be a great lead up to the 2006 World Champs. This will allow my coach and I to develop a training programme specifically for the 2006 World Champs, making sure I practice on similar terrain."
In the Men’s Downhill, New Zealand’s most experienced rider, John (JK) Kirkcaldie, has had great success on the North American circuit over the last five years. He will face off against young gun, Justin Leov who was ranked number 12 in the world in 2004 and won this summer’s national series. Nathan Rankin had a fantastic start to the season before breaking his wrist but still managed second in the national series behind Leov. He will compete along with up and coming Rotorua youngster Des Curry who was third in the series.
In Elite cross country Mangakino’s Mike Northcott and Christchurch’s Rosara Joseph will attempt to continue their dominance of the recently completed national XC series.
While the World's will be all about the elite riders, at the National Championships there is also an opportunity for the ‘weekend warriors’ to compete in the expert and sports classes from the juniors right through to the over 50’s. There are over 290 pre-entered riders. With the weather promising to be fine and dry into the weekend, Rotorua’s reputation for large numbers of on-the-day entries should be maintained, especially with a chance to test skills on world championship courses.
Not only will Rotorua host the Downhill and Cross Country events but also 4X, Hill Climb and Bike Trials Championships. The DH and XC races are UCI events, which means points (for international rankings) and prize money up for grabs.
The timetable of the 2005 New Zealand Community Trust MTB Championships is as follows:
Friday 25 February: NZ Hill Climb Champs at Mountain Action 1 pm
Saturday 26 February: Subaru NZ DH Champs at Skyline 8 am-3 pm (Practice Friday 25 February)
Saturday 26 February: NZ 4X Champs at Mountain Action 5 pm-8 pm
Sunday 27 February: NZ XC Champs at Skyline 9 am-5 pm
Sunday 27 February: Kaingaroa Timberlands NZ Bike Trial Champs at Skyline 11am