The much-anticipated SKODA South Island School Mountain Bike Championships will kick-start the 2021 school cycling year starting on Friday.
The event, cancelled last year due to the first Covid lockdown, is organised by Bike Methven and based at Mt Hutt Ski Area.
The championships have attracted 400 riders from Blenheim to Invercargill for the three-day event, that comprises cross-country, enduro and downhill races for riders from Under-13 to Under-20.
Such is the popularity that enduro and downhill events have reached maximum capacity.
The event starts with the cross-country on Friday 12 March, followed by downhill on Saturday and the increasingly popular enduro on Sunday.
Christchurch Boys High School field the largest team with 38 riders, followed by Nelson College and Cashmere High School proving that mountain biking is strong in the region.
Cashmere High School are headed by a strong team of girls, fresh off a successful weekend at the Torpedo7 MTB National Championships. Amelie Mackay and Annabel Bligh will compete in the under-20 girls events after finishing on the podium in the under-19 grade at nationals, and in the under-17 grade where Maria Laurie won the national cross-country title and Leah Smith was second in downhill at nationals.
In the boys fields, standout cross-country riders, Jacob Turner (under-20 Boys - Rangiora High School) and Ethan Woods (under-17 Boys – Motueka College) will be trying to back-up after finishing second and first in respective grades at the national championships.
Standout downhill and enduro riders include Luke Hancock from Mt Aspiring College and Josh Bonnar from Wakatipu High, both in the under-17 field. Hancock won the national title with Bonnar third.
Cycling New Zealand Schools thank event partners; Skoda New Zealand, Miles Continental Skoda, Mt Hutt, Philip Wareing Ltd, Blue Pub, Methven Travel, Mons Royale, Phat Bastards, BNZ, ACL, Drummond and Etheridge, Penny's Rental, Big Als, Dom's Pizza, Stoked Cycles, Morris Contracting, Molloy Agriculture, School Sport New Zealand for their support.
CAPTION: Caitlin Titheridge in action on her way to winning the under-20 title at Mt Hutt last year. Credit: Kelly Bisset Photography