Top New Zealand riders Kashi Leuchs and Rosara Joseph will lead a strong New Zealand team to contest the 2008 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in Val di Sole, Italy in June. Cross country racers Joseph and Leuchs have been in Europe preparing for the Olympics in August. Joseph is currently recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the first UCI World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium, but is expected to be fully fit for the World Championships on June 17-22.
"The cross country side of the team represents the depth of talent in the junior ranks especially," said Chris Mildon, Mountainbike New Zealand president. "These junior athletes relish the opportunity to compete at the world championships and perform above and beyond expectations against the world's best." Samara Sheppard, Ashley Hough, Scott Green, Dirk Peters, Kieran Hambrook and George Bennett are the chosen U19 racers.
The elite and junior downhill team features three former Junior World Championship medallists with Hawkes Bay juniors Aari Barrett and Brook MacDonald expected to do well. Yeti/Fox team professionals Sam Blenkinsop and Justin Leov, along with seasoned campaigner Nathan Rankin, will lead the strong elite downhill team.
Debutante Matt Walker, 2006 junior downhill world champion Cameron Cole, Wyn Masters and Craig Pattle will contest the 4X event.
Most of the rest of the team's racers will depart for Europe within the next few weeks to compete at world cup events in Andorra and Scotland before the Italian Worlds.
New Zealand for the World Championships
U19: Samara Sheppard, Ashley Hough, Scott Green, Dirk Peters, Kieran Hambrook , George Bennett
U23: Josh Barley
Elite: Rosara Joseph, Kaytee Boyd, Kashi Leuchs
U19: Brook MacDonald, Matt Walker, Peter Cooper, Aari Barrett, Richard Leacock
Elite: Scarlett Hagen, Amy Laird, Justin Leov, Nathan Rankin, Sam Blenkinsop, Kieran Bennett, Glenn Haden, Mike Skinner, Cameron Cole
Elite 4X: Wyn Masters, Craig Pattle, Matt Walker, Cameron Cole