Young kiwis superb in UCI World Cup downhill qualifying in Austria

Mountain Bike
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Rising young kiwi gravity riders Eliana Hulsebosch and Lachie Stevens-McNab turned heads with outstanding qualifying rides at the UCI MTB World Cup downhill in Austria.

Hulsebosch, just 16 years from Tauranga, was the fastest qualifier in the junior women’s downhill at the famed Leogang course. The Union—Steel City rider led a Kiwi shutout of the top three qualifying spots along with of Sasha Earnest (Trek Factory) and junior world champion Erice van Leuven (Commencal les Orres) ahead of the finals tomorrow.

To add to the significance of the performance, Hulsebosch’s time of 3:46.378 was the second fastest of all female riders including elites down the celebrated course in Leogang.

Putting her performances into perspective, the 16 year commented on her day: “Played on the swings, won at UNO and came P1 in quallis.”

Stevens-McNab has moved into the semifinals in the elite men, finishing 16th fastest in a superb day. He was strong in qualifying before posting an excellent run in the semifinals, just 5.488s behind the fastest run from French star Loic Bruni who was best in 3:05.146.

Stevens-McNab led the four kiwis who made it to the semifinals along with Sam Gale, Gravity Cartel rider Wyn Masters and former national champion Toby Meek, who laid down a strong 3:11.185 to be fifth fastest in initial qualifying.

The unlucky rider was veteran Sam Blenkinsop who was one spot out of making the semifinals.

Queenstown’s Jess Blewitt was in outstanding form to be fourth fastest in a brilliant run in the elite women’s semifinal. The Cube Factory professional  was sixth fastest in qualifying 3.5s behind the top effort of home country rider Valentina Hill.

Blewitt’s semifinal run was 6.4s behind Holl’s effort, and the only kiwi to make the elite women’s semifinal.

Former junior world champion Jenna Hastings was 16th fastest in qualifying to miss out on the semifinals by one spot.

Gravity Cartel rider Luke Wayman was the best of the kiwis in junior men’s qualifying in ninth fastest, 7.5s behind top qualifier Asa Vermette (USA). He is joined by Queenstown’s Rory Meek and Rotorua’s Ryan Hastings in tomorrow’s finals.

Qualifying times:

Elite men semifinal: Loic Bruni (FRA) 3:05.146, 1; Luca Shaw (USA) at 0.759s, 2; Troy Brosnan (AUS) at 0.986, 3. Also: Lachlan Stevens-McNab (Union-Steel City Media) at 5.488s, 16. Other NZers in semifinal:  Sam Gale at 10.418, 47; Wyn Masters (Gravity Cartel) at 12.555, 55; Toby Meek (Meek Boys) at 23.769, 59.

Women semifinal: Valentina Holl (AUT) fastest 3:38.913, Anna Newkirk (USA) at 1.671, 2; Tahnee Seagrave (GBR) at 3.304, 3; Jess Blewitt (NZL, Cube Factory) 6.462, 4.

Junor men qualifying: Asa Vermette (USA) 3:12.755, 1; Dane Jewett (CAN) at 3.240, 2; Mylan Falquet (FRA) at 3.531, 3. Also NZers: Luke Wayman (Gravity Cartel) at 7.579, 9; Rory Meek (Meek Boyz) at 9.060, 11; Ryan Hastings at 11.165, 22.

Junior women qualifying: Eliana Hulsebosch (NZL, Union-Steel City Media) 3:46.378, 1; Sasha Earnest (NZL, Trek Factory) at 7.925, 2; Erice van Leuven (NZL, Commencal les Orres) at 9.971, 3.


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