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Blenkinsop and Ragot win New Zealand downhill round in Auckland

Sam Blenkinsop on his way to winning a round of the New Zealand MTB Downhill Cup

Sam Blenkinsop on his way to winning a round of the New Zealand MTB Downhill Cup (Image credit: Simon Watts BW Photography)

Wanganui professional Sam Blenkinsop carried on his stellar form to win the final round of the New Zealand downhill mountain bike Cup in the Hunua ranges, Auckland.

Blenkinsop, 24, won the elite men's race in a time of 2:31.61, two seconds ahead of fellow professional Brook MacDonald in 2:33.61. Matt Walker, brother of Olympian Olympic BMX medallist Sarah, took third place in 2:33.33.

France's Emmeline Ragot showed her class to blitz the rest of the field in a time of 2:53.34 to win the elite women's race with the UK's Jess Stone second in 2:58.31. Alanna Columb was the first New Zealander home, in third place, with a time of 3:00.59.

Ragot, the two-time world champion, was happy with her run, but wasn't taking any risks before her professional season starts in Europe soon,

"It was my first race in a while and first proper ride on my bike. I was really enjoying it, and it was a fast track," Ragot said.

"I didn't try the big jumps, they were a bit scary and it's not prime season right now. If it were a World Cup then maybe I would try, but not here. I'm trying to stay safe."

Hot, dry conditions, combined with a fast track made for exciting racing, however it also wasn't without casualty. Local teenager Aaron Ewen was airlifted to hospital after sustaining serious injuries as a result of a crash during his practice run yesterday.

The round served as the final showdown before the New Zealand mountain bike national championships next weekend in Rotorua, the feature event of the inaugural Rotorua Bike Festival.

Brief results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sam Blenkinsop (NZl)0:02:31.61
2Brook MacDonald (NZl)0:00:02.00
3Matt Walker (NZl)0:00:01.72

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Emmeline Ragot (Fra)0:02:53.34
2Jess Stone (GBr)0:00:04.97
3Alanna Columb (NZl)0:00:07.25

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