Kiwis line-up for final MTB cross-country Olympic qualifier in Chechia

Mountain Bike
Anton Nove Mesto 2022 v2

Seven New Zealand riders have entered the third round of the UCI MTB World Cup for cross-country as it moves back to home-base in Europe and the popular venue of Nové Mĕsto na Moravĕ in Czechia.

While the race doubles as the final qualifying event for the Paris Olympic Games, it is unlikely to significantly affect New Zealand’s ranking, currently 12th which would qualify one male spot.

Focus will likely return to World Cup, and with other nations jockeying for the final Olympic spots, it may present opportunity for the two male elite kiwi riders.

There is a massive entry from European nations all chasing Olympic points, with 118 elite men and 162 under-23 males from 31 countries, and 89 elite and 52 under-23 females from 22 countries entered.

Sam Gaze (Alpecin Deceuninck) is chasing his third straight top-10 performance in as many starts, which has seen his ranking rise to 33, while Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) has reported he is rested and fully recovered from his health issues in Brazil, and is excited to return to his favourite course where he has achieved two top-10s in recent years.

Dunedin’s Mary Gray and Australian-based Jess Manchester, both former national champions, are entered in the elite women, while Bailey Frederickson (Whakatane) and Trek Factory rider Ethan Rose (Christchurch), along with fellow Cantabrian Amelie Mackay, will race in respective under-23 races.

The Nové Mĕsto na Moravĕ course in Czechia, also known as the Czech Republic, is a 4km loop, noted for its picturesque forests and countryside, with around 200m of climbs and 160m of descents, offering a mix of engaging tracks, and a blend of technical tests and superb vistas.

The short track races start on Friday local time (midnight NZT) for under-23 racers, and from 8.30pm on Saturday (NZT) for elites. The cross-country racing is on Sunday (NZT 12.30am) for under23 riders with elite women later on Sunday evening (NZT) from 8.30pm and men from midnight.

Meanwhile the second round of the UCI MTB Eliminator World Series moves to Turkey on Sunday (local time) with kiwi champion Lochie Brown on the start line for his second World Cup after a brilliant victory on debut in Indonesia last weekend.

The Cambridge rider is expected to face a more challenging test with a deeper field led by series leader Lorenzo Serrez (FRA), Sweden’s Edvin Lindh and Austria’s Theo Hauser.

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