Downhill race day today (Sunday) was another fine, hot day on Mt Major. The NZ downhill contingent were well prepared and superbly focused, dedicating their Oceanias racing to friend and fellow competitor Dave Balderstone who tragically passed away on Monday.
Amy Laird (Christchurch) made a return to racing at this event after an early season injury, finishing a reassuring 7th after a crash but some good riding either side of the incident in her race run.
Daniel Franks (Christchurch) was the best of the New Zealander juniors, holding top spot until the last few top seeded Australians hit the course. Franks eventually finished 4th, with current Australian World Champion Troy Brosnan taking the win by the slimmest of margins over compatriot and on form Connor Fearon.
Three Kiwis led out the Elite mens race, after seeding poorly. World ranked number 8 Cam Cole (Christchurch) held the leaders hot seat after a messy run including a crash at the top of the hill. "I had a couple of mistakes that definately cost me time and maybe the eventual win but I know I'm riding fast I just need to elimintale the mistakes from my race runs before South Africa". He led the race through the bulk of the mens field. Cam was knocked back when the fastest seeds came through. Rhys Willemse won the coveted Oceania title for Australia with his first major title result, Rhys Atkinson and Tim Eaton rounded out the top 3 with Cole the best of the Kiwis in 4th.
The Downhill race wrapped up the Oceanias mountain bike programme, with mixed success for the NZ Team. Oceania athletes now head back to NZ for some downtime before many prepare to travel to the northern hemisphere for the 2012 World Cup season, which begins in South Africa at the end of April.