Kiwi mountain bikers flock to French Alps for UCI World Series action

Mountain Bike
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Thirty-five New Zealand riders have headed to the Haute Savoie of the French Alps for the last round of the UCI MTB World Cup before a break for the Paris Olympic Games.

The sixth round of cross-country and fifth stop for downhill will be decided at the popular location of Les Gets, which hosted the 2022 UCI World Championships.

Les Gets is part of the Portes du Soleil which is one of the largest ski and biking regions in the world, bridging across both Switzerland and France.

Kiwi gravity riders will be looking to continue their outstanding performances in 2024 with the downhill 2.2km track at Les Gets at 5000ft above sea level, featuring a steep and challenging decent of 570m, that features a mix of technical and fast sections of jumps, roots, stones, bends and slopes.

The cross-country course is 3.55km each lap, set at 3500ft with an elevation gain of 140m that features a mix of pastures and forest.

Leading the way for Kiwi gravity riders are current elite national champions in Rotorua’s Lachie Stevens-McNab (Union Steel Media), 20, who is 15th in the world standings, Queenstown’s Jess Blewitt (Cube Factory), who turns 22 next week, currently eighth in the world for elite females will be sitting out the weekend whilst still recovering from injury.

There are 12 New Zealanders in the elite men and two in elite women, including Rotorua’s Jenna Hastings, who won the junior women’s downhill world championship on this course two years ago.

There is a strong group of kiwis in the junior downhill ranks led by Tauranga’s Eliana Hulsebosch, Wellington’s Erice Van Leuven and Auckland’s Sacha Earnest, who are first, second and fourth respectively on the UCI standings. The 16-year-old Hulsebosch, in her debut season on the world circuit, has won two world cups in a row.

In cross-country, Sam Gaze (Alpecin Deceuninck) is currently eighth in the world and second in short-track. He will be looking for a strong showing before an expected call-up next week for the Paris Olympic Games, if a troublesome sore knee does not flare up.

Compatriot Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) will target a return for later rounds of the World Cup after illness thwarted his hopes following strong form in the New Zealand summer.

Under-23 world champion, Sammie Maxwell (Decathlon Ford) impressed with a top-10 elite finish in the last world cup, bettered on only two occasions by kiwi riders, both more than a decade ago. She will be looking to continue that form in a stronger field, with seven of the world’s current top-10 competing.

Competition begins with downhill qualification and semifinals on Friday (from 10pm NZT) along with short track cross-country, with downhill finals on Saturday (from 9.30pm NZT) and cross-country on Sunday (from 7pm NZT).

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