MacDonald, Laird claim New Zealand national titles

World number five ranked mountain biker Brook MacDonald claimed his first national title in the New Zealand downhill championships in Rotorua on Sunday. MacDonald will be able to wear the national colours in Europe this year for his new Trek World Racing team after recovering from a near-crash on the famed national downhill track in the Whakarewarewa Forest.

Christchurch lawyer Amy Laird was most surprised when she took out the women's title, with the championships bringing down the curtain on the successful inaugural Rotorua Bike Festival that attracted a raft of events at all levels through over the nine days attracting visitors from throughout the country and overseas.


MacDonald, 21, topped the qualifiers in the seeding run, with Lapierre International professional Sam Blenkinsop flatting in his run. Blenkinsop, who won the New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup round in Auckland last weekend, set the standard with a superb 2:49.90 effort to grab the hot seat.

He remained in the hot seat until the final run from MacDonald who blitzed the course in 2:47.22.

"It's my first ever national champs title so I am pretty stoked," said MacDonald. "I made one pretty big mistake up the top. I was pretty sure I was going down. I don't know how I rode out. I was pretty lucky and I knew from there I had to make up time.

"For the amount of training I've been able to do with a back issue and a lot of travelling, I still have my fitness so it is super cool and great to be back on the top step.

"To be able to wear the national jersey for my new team Trek World Racing will be sick."

Blenkinsop finished second with visiting Frenchman Loic Bruni the third fastest in 2:51.05 but Kawerau's Matt Walker claimed the national championship bronze medal with the international rider ineligible for New Zealand honours.


Two-time world champion Emmeline Ragot (France), currently ranked number two in the world, was in a class of her own in the women's race with a superb 3:14.21 effort with England's Jess Stone second fastest.

But the title fell to Christchurch-based Laird, her first national downhill title, ironically after deciding to limit her riding to domestic competition after several years on the international circuit.

She clocked an outstanding 3:31.70 to be half a second faster than favoured Alanna Columb with Stophie Tyas third in 3:32.29.

"I can't believe it. I had just about the perfect run. I could have pushed more but I knew I had to hold it together in the dusty stuff," Laird said.

"I don't ride so much now and I think it did help because you don't scare yourself with expectations and you come in feeling good and relaxed.

"For all these years I have been trying so hard to win and this year I was happy to cruise and have fun with my friends and it shows that when you are having fun it works out well."


In other racing, Lawrence Cawte took out the under 19 honours in an outstanding 3:01.91 while Jack Humphries won the under-17 title in 3:09.17. Robbie Wong-Toi won the under-15 title and Kieran Thompson took out the senior men.

Phoebe Coers won the under 19 women title while Kaytee Campbell claimed the open women.


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Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brook MacDonald0:02:47.22
2Sam Blenkinsop0:00:02.68
3Bruni Loic (Fra)0:00:03.83
4Bernard Kerr (GBr)0:00:04.60
5Matt Walker0:00:04.81
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Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Emmeline Ragot (Fra)0:03:14.21
2Jess Stone (GBr)0:00:16.27
3Amy Laird0:00:17.49
4Alanna Columb0:00:18.08
5Sophie Tyas0:00:25.93
Swipe to scroll horizontally
U19 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lawrence Cawte0:03:01.91
2Joshua McCombie0:00:02.03
3Cam Barrett0:00:03.18
Swipe to scroll horizontally
U19 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Phoebe Coers0:04:04.16
2Georgia Petrie0:00:15.64
Swipe to scroll horizontally
U17 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jack Humphries0:03:09.17
2Corey Milne0:00:00.82
3Jonathon Kennett0:00:03.38
Swipe to scroll horizontally
U15 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robbie Wong-Toi0:03:25.25
2Billy Meaclem0:00:06.33
3Liam Bethell0:00:08.71
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Senior men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kieran Thompson0:02:58.62
2Carl Edmondson0:00:04.95
3Steven Pattle0:00:07.41
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Masters 30-39 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chris Mancey0:03:16.32
2Dylan Sanchez-Pinsent0:00:01.08
3Leon Duggan0:00:07.52
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Masters 40-49 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mike Metz0:03:16.70
2Luke Simmons0:00:40.93
3Nigel Robinson0:01:02.48
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Masters 50+ men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mark Simmons0:04:20.55
2Stephen Gillan0:00:04.73
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Open women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kaytee Campbell0:03:58.13
2Amanda Monk0:00:04.97

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