RaboPlus New Zealand MTB Cup to Queenstown this weekend

Coronet Peak will host the next round, both downhill and cross country, of the South Island New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup on February 14-15 in Queenstown.

Saturday's downhill race will feature New Zealand's top downhillers as well as a handful of international visitors who have consistently bumped the New Zealanders off the podium this summer. It's the penultimate race in the nation's downhill series.

Christchurch's downhill pro Justin Leov is back on form after a summer of recuperation and will be looking for an incident-free run this weekend at the head of the field. However, Leov faces strong competition from Scottish podium raiders Ben Cathro, Gary Forest and Joe Barnes, and also from young Danny Hart of the United Kingdom. 2007 World Championship bronze medallist Matt Scoles, Brook MacDonald and any number of the elite men could mix it up in the results.

With former Junior World Champion Scarlett Hagen's recent retirement, the task of trying to keep France's Emmeline Ragot off the top of the elite women's downhill podium will fall again to Harriet Harper.

Sunday's cross country race will bring all the New Zealand Cup contenders together as the final of the six-race combined North and South Island series. An in-form Brendon Sharratt will race Mike Northcott for the first time this summer. Under 19 racer Dirk Peters will also have the opportunity to prove himself against his elders; he is keen to make an impression on the race.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.