14 February 2013
Two times Elite Women’s Downhill World Champion, Emmeline Ragot takes on the Taniwha in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest this Sunday (17 February) in another key event in the first ever Rotorua Bike Festival, which concludes this weekend.
As a Frenchwoman she won’t be eligible for the 2013 New Zealand title. However, she will be part of a star-studded line up at this weekend’s Mountain Bike National Championships on the fearsome and dramatic course.
“I’ll be in Rotorua all week and I’ve already tried a couple of trails on my cross-country bike,” says Ragot. “It’s really good to ride here, there are all the tracks that we need - Rotorua trails are awesome.”
The 1st Rotorua Bike Festival will end with one of the best fields of downhill racers competing in a New Zealand Championships for a long time.
The 2013 Mountain Bike National Championships begin on Saturday with the cross-country and another top line-up of riders, including 2012 Junior World Champion, Anton Cooper, the first New Zealand mountain biker to win a rainbow jersey in the Olympic discipline of cross-country.
In the Elite Women’s cross-country, London Olympian, Karen Hanlen from Whakatane will start favourite after a dominant win at last weekend’s national series round at Hunua.
The final weekend of the 10-day Bike Festival is a mouth-watering prospect for Kiwi mountain bike and BMX fans as some of the sports biggest stars arrive in Rotorua.
“This is probably the biggest weekend of cycling the city has experienced since we hosted the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships in 2006,” says Martin Croft, from Rotorua District Council’s events unit, Events & Venues Rotorua.
The weekend starts early with the opening of the More FM Bike Expo at the Rotorua Convention Centre at midday on Friday (15 February). The Expo features a variety of bike exhibits including historical bikes and some innovative and pioneering local bike builders.
On Friday evening mountain bike racing will return to Skyline Skyrides on Mount Ngongotaha for the first time since Rotorua hosted the 2006 Mountain Bike World Championships. Interest in the Skyline Sprint Warrior is so great that organizers have had to impose a strict limit on entries.
BMX Rotorua’s National Qualifiers are on Saturday. BikeNZ's high performance Olympic squad London silver medalist, Sarah Walker, Marc Willers and Kurt Pickard will all be there. The Rotovegas Jumps Jam will take the action at BMX Rotorua’s HQ into the twilight with some spectacular action.
It's a busy week for the local BMX club who will be hosting both Bicycle Speedway and TV show Crowd Goes Wild on Thursday evening. Crowd Goes Wild will be crossing live into the show between 7 and 7.30pm.
Enduro mountain biking makes its debut in Rotorua on Sunday. The Giant 2W Gravity Enduro is a multi-stage race that will highlight the fast, undulating trails the Whakarewarewa Network is renowned for. Enduro combines the endurance of a cross-country athlete and the technical skills of an experienced mountain biker.
The weather has been perfect for the festival so far and the Festival has gone really well says Martin Croft. “If you’re a Kiwi bike fan and not in Rotorua already, you probably should be.”
The full programme for the 1st Rotorua Bike Festival is on the website www.rotoruabikefestival.com or www.facebook.com/rotoruabikefestival