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Samuel Blenkinsop (New Zealand)
Queenstown hosts opening round
The 2012 edition of the long running New Zealand national mountain bike series launches this weekend in Queenstown. This first round of the 2012 New Zealand MTB Cup brings the country's best downhill competitors and a host of international visitors together for the first time since the end of February last year. And the 200-plus competitors will be breaking in a new venue on the face of the Remarkables in the bustling holiday destination of Queenstown to celebrate on January 8 and 9.
The 2012 NZ MTB Cup runs across both South and North Islands during January and February, delivering six downhill and four cross country events. The downhill events are exceptional in that they showcase a number of world class professional athletes who are proud to represent New Zealand at the highest level of the sport. From recent junior world championship medalists Cameron Cole, Brook MacDonald and Matt Scoles and the current elite world championship bronze medalist Sam Blenkinsop, to consistent World Cup top 10 finishers of the calibre of Justin Leov, the quality of competition is a treat for every venue the series visits.
The cross country events bring another dimension to the series, all being UCI categorised, and attracting a number of big name international athletes to join the cream of New Zealand's fastest racers, all chasing valuable ranking points in Olympic qualification year.
This weekend's competiton in Queenstown begins with a full practice day on Sunday, with race day taking place on Monday. Competitors will be faced with a new course on the Remarkables which pays homage to downhill courses of a prior era, but with a very modern twist. Fast, wide open and likely to change drastically during practice day due to the very dry conditions in the Southern Lakes area, this course will test the nerve of all, while providing a good spectator experience with long lines of sight.
The series works around New Zealand's flagship event, the national championships on January 27-29 in Nelson. The Oceania Championships will also take place on March 9-11 in Rotorua.
2012 NZ MTB Cup
NZ MTB Cup Downhill
January 8-9: Round 1 - Queenstown
January 13-14: Round 2 - Dunedin
January 20-21: Round 3 - Mt Hutt
February 11-12: Round 4 - Rotorua
February 17-18: Round 5 - Wellington
February 24-25: Round 6 - Napier
NZ MTB Cup Cross Country
January 15: Round 1 - Dunedin
January 22: Round 2 - Christchurch
February 19: Round 3 - Wellington
February 26: Round 4 - Napier
2012 New Zealand Mountain Bike National Championships
January 27-29: Nelson
2012 Oceania Mountain Bike Championships
March 9-11: Rotorua
For more info on any of the above events, visit www.mtbnz.org.