2018 #OceaniaMTB Championships: Cross-country Preview

Last year New Zealand and Australia split the six Cross-country titles on offer each taking three, though on Australian soil it was New Zealand who emerged with both elite crowns courtesy of Anton Cooper and Samara Sheppard. This year in Dunedin New Zealand will be looking to impress on home soil with the 2018 Commonwealth Games fastest approaching.

With under 19 World Champion Cameron Wright (Australia) wearing his rainbow jersey and Commonwealth and World Champions in action expect the competition to be as hotly contested as ever with the honour of wearing the Oceania Champions jersey for the next 12 months on the line.

2017 Champions
Men: Anton Cooper (New Zealand)
Women: Samara Sheppard (New Zealand)

Defending champions Anton Cooper and Samara Sheppard both return looking to defend their titles though they will not have it all their own way with one of the strongest fields assembled at an Oceania Championships.

Cooper is looking to go make it three in a row in the men’s but will have to contend with 2017 podium finishes Cameron Ivory (Australia) and Daniel McConnell (Australia) who won four titles in a row between 2012 and 2015. Also lining up is former under 23 world champion Samuel Gaze (New Zealand) and Ben Oliver (New Zealand) who won the under 19 title in 2014 and under 23 crown in 2016.

In the women’s Sheppard looks the hot favourite after a strong run of results in the Australian Cross-country National Series. Two-time champion Rebecca McConnell (Australia) will be looking to pick up a third title, and silver medallist from a year ago Holly Harris (Australia) is eyeing her first.

Under 23
2017 Champions
Men: Ben Bradley (Australia)
Women: Megan Williams (Australia)

With defending champion Williams not competing this year a new champion will be crowned in the women’s race with silver and bronze medallists from a year ago Charlotte Culver (Australia) and Charlotte Rayner (New Zealand) looking to claim the title. New Zealand’s Liv Bishop who grabbed under 19 bronze in 2017 is also a name to watch.

The under 23 men’s category will also be hotly contested with a new champion crowned. Local hopes are likely to come from Eden Cruise and Henry Jaine while Callum Carson (Australia) brings hot form from the Australian National Cross-country series.

Under 19
2017 Champions
Men: Sam Fox (Australia)
Women: Jessica Manchester (New Zealand)

The under 19 men’s race is shaping up to be one of the most exciting of the weekend with world champion Cameron Wright (Australia) and defending champion Sam Fox (Australia) headlining the big 20-rider field. 2017 silver medallist Matthew Dinham (Australia) completed the three strong Australian attack after four podium finishes this season in Australia.

After four second place finishes in the Australian Cross-country National Series Teagan Atherstone (Australia) has established herself as the name to beat. Phoebe Young (New Zealand) will be looking to give the crowd a local win after taking out the New Zealand South Island Championships last weekend.