Kiwi Mountain Bikers Crack Podium in UCI World Cup
Kiwi mountain bikers Brook MacDonald and his Trek World Racing teammate George Brannigan powered their way on to the UCI World Cup podium today.
The Hawkes Bay pair, both recovering from time off the bike with injury, finished in fourth and fifth placings respectively on the stern downhill test in Leogang, Austria.
It was a welcome return to form for the super-popular MacDonald, nicknamed The Bulldog for his daring style, after recovering from shoulder surgery.
It’s been a longer than expected road back to full fitness for the Kiwi who has assumed the mantle as Trek World Racing’s top rider. His seventh in qualifying at Fort William in Scotland last week was a sign he was close to his usual self.
Today he was again the fastest in the speed trap at over 50kph and led at the first time point with only a small error in the final sector costing him a top three placing. “I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back racing at this speed. I reckon I was smiling on the inside all the way down the track today,” MacDonald said. “When everything clicks, there’s no better feeling. Thanks to everyone who’s been patient, no-one’s wanted this podium more than me, and to be up there with Georgey, pretty awesome.”
The 22 year old Brannigan, the national champion, set the pace for the New Zealand gravity riders when he took over the Hot Seat for fastest time until edged out by South African Greg Minnaar who would finish second to Britain’s Josh Bryceland.
Brannigan said a crash in qualifying at Fort William last week has ultimately proved a benefit to his racing today, along with some technical advice from the Trek World Racing skills coach and fellow New Zealander, Justin Leov.
“I was able to take a lot from what I saw in the Fort William finals and couple that with what Justin taught me this week and really put it into great effect. It’s only my second ever World Cup podium. I feel back on track, it’s great.”
The result sees MacDonald jump from 27th overall to 13th in the World Cup standings which gives him the all-important protected status at the next round in Canada in August.