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Riders tackle tough course in Mountain Bike Cup

Sunday 17 Jan 2010 8:15 p.m.

Competition was tight in the second round of the New Zealand Mountain Bike Cup in Dunedin.

The challenging course tested the skills of the country's top riders, who will tackle the same track for the Oceania Champs in March.

It is the most technical downhill track in the country, and the two kilometre run down Signal Hill proved a little tricky for some riders.

This is the new home track for the country's top downhill rider Justin Leov, ranked eighth in the world.

He moved south from Christchurch late last year, and was happy to use local knowledge to his advantage.

“Really attacked in the rock garden, that's one of the areas in the course where I sort of felt I wasn't riding that good, and hit it the best I’ve probably ever hit it and that sort of set my run going,” he says.

Leov was pushed into second place last week, in the opening round in Christchurch.

Today his rival Sam Blenkinsop was forced to watch, after breaking his wrist during a practice run.

But it was still a tough battle in the elite field, which bodes well for the coming season.

“You know everybody's at such a high level now which is awesome for New Zealand, and it just means if we can keep building on it, when we get to the world cups we're all going to be very strong,” says Leov.

Riders will be back here in March for the Oceania Champs. Former Junior World Champion Cam Cole says it's one of the best tracks he's seen in New Zealand.

“It's a good test of all-round bike riding. You’ve got some rocks in there, your jumps, some pedalling and some fast sections, a little bit slower, tighter, fast, open so it's all there - it's good,” he says.

The immediate focus is seeing out the National Cup Series, which moves on to Nelson next week before heading over to the North Island.

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