The signs are looking ominous for competitors in the elite men's cross-country as Rotorua mountain biker Dirk Peters racks up another win.
Peters was in dominant form at the weekend in the opening round of the BikeNZ Mountain Bike Cup series in Bluff.
The 21-year-old won the five-lap elite men's race in convincing style with a time of 1:47.16. Peters made the most of the favourable conditions to get an early lead on the field. Fellow Rotorua rider Carl Jones is also looking in great form finishing second in a time of 1:50.36, with Auckland's Adrian Retief taking third with a 1:52.27.
Peters said he was happy with the way he rode.
"It was pretty good out there today. It was pretty rocky but nice and dry which suited me a bit better," Peters said
"I got away at the start with Anton, who was riding the under-23 race, but then he had a mechanical so I was out on my own. I just rode at my own pace and had fun.
"I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, it should be good, and I'm hoping for a bit of home town advantage for the national championships in Rotorua."
The win sees the pair in good form, especially with the nationals here on February 15. However, Peters and Jones have some time to sit back and enjoy their top two finish with the second of three rounds not until February 2, at Mt Victoria, Wellington. The third and final round before the nationals will be held at Hunua, Auckland, on February 10.
The elite women's race saw Kate Fluker (Queenstown) well ahead of the pack, finishing in a time of 1:40.49, almost nine minutes ahead of second place Erin Greene (Dunedin) 1:48.45 and Cayley Brooks (Canada) 1:51.47.
A mechanical failure put an end to Anton Cooper's chances of victory in the opening cross-country round of the men's under-23 division. The junior world champion suffered a mechanical problem on the third lap of the four-lap race which took five minutes to fix, costing him victory, finishing seven seconds down on Logan Horn (Christchurch), who won with a time of 1:28.20.
Horn said he had hoped to have enough to hold off the world champion.
"I was confident in the position I was in, but Anton would've beaten me if he didn't have the mechanical, and he pulled it back to a really close finish," Horn said.
"It was a really tough course. It was a long way to the top and big descent, but it's a really well built course and I enjoyed it. Usually I prefer to have two or three main climbs but I rode well."
Cooper, who will ride fulltime on the UCI World Cup for the Cannondale Factory Team this year, was relaxed about the defeat.
"That's the way racing is. I'm not too worried as this is part of the build up for me for the rest of the season," he said afterwards.
Invercargill rider Logan Havenaar took third place with a time of 1:36:03.
Mary Gray (Dunedin), a top-10 finisher in the world championships last year, won the women's under-23 honours in 1:21.14.