Young NZ downhill mountain biker grabs podium again


Rotorua teenager Tuhoto-Ariki Pene scored his second straight podium at the penultimate round of downhill in the UCI Mountain Bike World in Switzerland.

Pene, who won in his season debut in France last weekend, finished third at Lenzerheide, just 1.25 seconds behind winner Seth Sherlock (Canada).

Ben Oliver in action in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. (Credit: Cullen Browne).

Fellow Subway Performance Hub riders Blake Ross and Same Gale finished sixth and seventh respectively, a first for the trio to all place in the top-10, and further evidence of the burgeoning success of Cycling New Zealand’s pathway development programme based at Rotorua’s Toi Ohomai Institute under coach Sam Thompson.

Gale was in the hot seat after his run of 3:08.401, before he was edged by teammate Blake by 1.6 seconds. Local Swiss rider Janosch Klaus then grabbed top spot with a 3:04.291 run and while Pene could not edge him, he finished strongly to secure third place. Sherlock produced the best of the late runs to claim the win.

It pushes Pene to seventh overall on the world cup standings with Gale 11th and Ross 22nd.

The other podium went to national elite female champion Kate Weatherly who continued her consistent strong form with fourth place behind winner Marine Dabirou (France). Weatherly is now sixth in the overall standings led by Australian Tracey Hannah.

MS Mondraker pro team rider Brook MacDonald was again the best of the Kiwi males in 16th place in the event won by Frenchman Amaury Pierron, with Sam Blenkinsop (NORCO) 235th and George Brannigan (GT Factory) 37th.

MacDonald retains his world ranking of eight, the best of the Kiwi gravity riders.

Attention turns to the cross-country with Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) to start on the third row, Ben Oliver (Subway Performance Hub) on the sixth row and Sam Gaze (Specialized) on the 10th row in the elite male race.