International riders expected at New Zealand MTB series

Downhill mountain biking world champion Fabien Barel and Elite women's world number two Sabrina Jonnier, both of France, are two of the many big names riding in New Zealand during the 2006 New Zealand Community Trust Mountain Bike National Series.

Also entered are Oz Golan, Israel's second ranked Downhill rider, Lechner Eva, leading Italian cross country rider, Nathalie Schneitter, a member of the Swiss national cross country team, four members of the Scottish national cross country team, and up to 40 of Australia's elite and junior cross country and downhill riders. Australia is using the Oceania Championships as a key part of their selection criteria for their world championship team. Expected to be included in the Australian team are Sam Hill, who came second to Barel at the 2005 World Championships in Livigno, Amiel Cavalier who won the junior mens downhill world championship, Liam Panozzo, who was fourth in the junior men's down hill, and Daniel McConnell who was 8th in the Under 23 cross country at Livigno.

BikeNZ Events Manager Ted Jones said "the quality and quanity of international riders competing at some stage of the national series will be by far the best ever seen in New Zealand. A lot of the riders are competing at the latter end of the series, but a few will be competing throughout taking the opportunity to see New Zealand as well as acclimatise for the Commonwealth Games and also the World Championships in August."

As well as some of the world's best, New Zealand's elite riders will be competing, so Kiwi riders will be able to compete against them which will provide a reality check leading up to the World Championships.

The series begins January 7 in Wanaka and ends March 5 in Rotura.

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