Massive weekend for kiwi cycling disciplines at home and abroad

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There is a massive weekend across the cycling disciplines this weekend, featuring Mountain Bike, BMX Racing, Track Cycling and Road Racing.

Leading the way is the 2024 international Crankworx World Tour that runs in Rotorua over the next week featuring downhill, dual slalom, slopestyle, pump and downhill events.

In the middle of the MTB activities, Cycling New Zealand hosts the North Island Schools MTB Championships  on March 17-19 incorporating cross-country and relay on Sunday, downhill on Monday and Enduro on Tuesday, based in the Whakarewarewa Forest from the Waipa MTB Hub.

It has drawn a remarkable response with more than 900 event entries from 100 schools over the three days of competition, sandwiched between the Crankworx event.

Meanwhile the BMXNZ National Championships will be staged at Hawkes Bay BMX Club in Havelock North this weekend.

There are excellent entries with riders coming off competing in the UCI World Cup in Rotorua.

Leading the way as defending elite champion is Rico Bearman after his super-busy start to the year with world cups in Rotorua and Brisbane and Oceania Championships.

Last year’s runner-up Cole McOnie (Te Awamutu) will ride along with Daniel Franks, who had a return to the sport after several years out and performed admirably at the World Cup in Rotorua.

The under- 23 men looks like a battle with Cambridge brothers Bennett and Jack Greenough who each won a round of the under-23 class at the World Cup.

Rotorua’s Will Skipper, another who compete at the World Cup, heads the field for the junior men.

Last year’s winner Megan Williams from Rotorua will line-up in the elite women with a head-to-head battle with Leila Walker, while Amber Robson (Te Awamutu), runner-up in the under-23 last year, will be favourite in that grade along with clubmate Brooke Penny, Kapiti’s Olivia Levens and Alexandra’s Holly Oldham. Lily Greenough (Cambridge) will need a clearance from her wrist injury to compete up against Tauranga’s Hannah Mason in the junior women.

There are trials for Mighty 11s on Friday with racing on Saturday from 11am with finals on Sunday from 10am.

Track cycling action is in the deep south with the Masters Track National Championships starting today until Saturday at the SIT Zerofees Velodrome in Invercargill.

There are excellent entries across the grades with several high profile riders competing including Tim Pawson (Counties Manukau) and Andy Beale (Canterbury Track) in 50plus; the Te Awamutu Sports pair of Graham Bunn and Lindsay File in 65 years plus; Graeme Litt (Canterbury Track) in 70 plus and Colin Claxton (Counties Manukau) in 75plus, while leading the way in females will be world champion Penny Pawson in W4.

In Hong Kong, the New Zealand team compete in the second UCI Nations Cup competition.

After a successful campaign in the opener in Adelaide, the New Zealand team are looking to cement qualifying ranking points.

Central Otago rider and Tokyo Olympian Nicole Shields returns to the women’s endurance team to join Emily Shearman, Bryony Botha and Sami Donnelly, with Ally Wollaston rested before her return to the European road season.

Strong form has led to the return of George Jackson to the men’s endurance squad to join Tom Sexton and Keegan Hornblow, while Aaron Gate and Campbell Stewart head to Hong Kong via their respective pro road duties.

The sprinters remain the same as for Adelaide but without Ellesse Andrews, who is returning to training following her crash in Adelaide. Meanwhile Rebecca Petch, Shaane Fulton and Olivia King rode a best time in the team sprint at the national championships last week, as did Sam Dakin in sprint qualifying as he chases further development in Hong Kong.

The three-day competition begins on Friday local time.

On the road, a number off kiwi professionals are taking part in the first of the monuments on the UCI World Tour.

Patrick Bevin (dsm-firmenich PostNL), Dion Smith (Intermache-Wanty) and Corbin Strong (Israel Premier Tech) will ride in the Milan-San Remo race while kiwis Kim Cadzow (EF Education-Cannondale), Henrietta Christie (Human Powered Health), Niamh Fisher-Black (SD Worx-Protime), and Ella Wyllie (Liv AlUla Jayco) compete in the women’s World Tour race, Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

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