New Zealand is sending its largest-ever contingent of riders to compete in the Oceania Mountain Bike Championships, to be held in Lysterfield and Mt Buller in Victoria, Australia from April 2-3, 2005.
Today (Tuesday), 48 riders - comprised of elite men/women and junior men/women, across two disciplines - flew across the Tasman along with team manager Dereck McCarthy, to compete in both cross-country (April 2) and downhill (April 3) events.
New Zealand's best chance of success lies in the cross country with New Zealand national champions and national series winners Rosara Joseph in the women's competition and Michael Northcott in the men's. Joseph had a stunning first season competing at the pro-elite level, winning the national series title and the national championships early this year. Northcott finally managed to usurp Stuart Houltham's reign over the cross country series from the previous four years, with Northcott also taking the national XC title.
Justin Leov, the country's highest internationally-ranked mountain bike rider and national series winner and Nathan Rankin are New Zealand's best hope in the men's downhill. In the Junior age groups, Clinton Avery ,is expected to dominate the boys' cross country, while Sam Blenkinsop and Keiran Bennett are their best chances in the downhill.
2005 Oceania MTB Championships team roster: