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Retired cross country pro Leuchs returns to racing at endurance downhills

Three-time Olympic cross-country rider Kashi Leuchs, of Dunedin, New Zealand, will turn his attention to downhill for the next three weeks as he competes in two of the world's biggest downhill endurance races in France: the Enduro de Nations at Val d'allos from June 25-27 and the Mega Avalanche at Alpe d'huez on July 11.

Three-time Olympic cross-country rider Kashi Leuchs, of Dunedin, New Zealand, will turn his attention to downhill for the next three weeks as he competes in two of the world's biggest downhill endurance races in France: the Enduro de Nations at Val d'allos from June 25-27 and the Mega Avalanche at Alpe d'huez on July 11.
(Image credit: Derek Morrison / Adventure Media Group/)

It has been a year since 31-year-old Kashi Leuchs of New Zealand finished racing at the elite level in cross country World Cups, but in late June and early July he will don a different helmet and reignite his passion for racing.

The three-time Olympian for New Zealand will be racing in two selected downhill endurance events in France: the Enduro de Nations at Val d'allos, France, on June 25-27 and the Mega Avalanche at Alpe d'Huez, also in France, on July 11.

Downhill racing is actually nothing new to Leuchs - he has been in the top three in New Zealand downhill competition before and he and friend Laurence Mote won the team event at the 2009 Brake Burner, which was held at Coronet Peak.

"I have always loved downhill riding, but this was never regarded as a sensible activity for a pro cross country rider." Leuchs recently acquired a big travel bike that has helped open the door to riding tougher lines and steeper terrain.

So what are his chances in these fast, dangerous and super-competitive races in France? "While in the States recently I was riding with some top downhillers and realised that I can keep up pretty well on technical terrain. So, I'm keen to put myself to the test in an event now. My big weakness at the moment is big gap jumps and super high-speed cornering, but I think I'll make up for it in pedaling and in the tighter technical terrain," he said.