Kiwi downhill mountain bikers fight back in next national series round this weekend
Kiwi downhill mountain bikers will look to get one back off the British riders this weekend at round two of the New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup series at Mt Hutt in Canterbury.
In the opening round of the series in Bluff last weekend, both the elite men's and women's races were won by visiting British riders, Bernard Kerr and Jess Stone; both of whom will be on the start line in Canterbury this weekend.
Christchurch rider Amy Laird will be racing in her hometown, following a third placing in Bluff last week, and is hoping that local knowledge can give her the edge over the competition. "I just think I need to do pretty much the same as last time but keep it clean this time. I had a crash on the second corner in Bluff so just need to fix that," said Laird.
"I hear they've made some changes to the track at Mt Hutt and the guys out there have been working pretty hard to make sure the track is in top condition.
"I just need to go out and see what happens really. You always want to win when you're racing, that's everyone's goal obviously, but I was happy with my top three placing in Invercargill so we will see what happens."
The 30-year-old has a great amount of respect for her competitors and is optimistic but realistic about her chances of winning on Sunday. "Jess Stone is over from England and is probably by far the favourite. She's a top 10 World Cup rider who is down here for our summer's racing," said Laird, who has raced cross country, downhill and more recently, endurance mountain bike events.
"Alanna Columb is another girl that's riding really well at the moment. She came second last weekend and has a good motocross background so will probably be one of the top riders."
Laird's fiancé Cam Cole will also be in action this weekend in the elite men's race, having finished second behind British rider Kerr in Bluff, and will be hoping to go one better but also to avoid defeat in the battle of the Christchurch couple.
"We always have little competitions amongst ourselves, like if I finish within a minute of his time then I win. I normally set the time so that I just beat him which really frustrates him," said Laird.
"He's really good to ride and race with. I've learnt a lot from him, especially since he's so calm and collected when he's racing."
Round three of the downhill mountain bike series will take place in Levin on February 2-3, so in the meantime Laird will go back to her double-life day job as a lawyer.
"It's funny because everyone that I race with can't believe I'm a lawyer and everyone that I work with can't believe that I race mountain bike, so I figure I'm kind of like two people sometimes," she said.
This weekend's round is a downhill-only event and does not include cross country racing.