Olympian Karen Hanlen blitzed the elite women's field to win at the final round of cross-country at the BikeNZ mountain bike cup series in Hunua, Auckland.
Hanlen won in a time of 1:38:50, almost five minutes ahead of second-placed Kate Fluker, of Queenstown, who finished in 1:43:33. Fiona MacDermid of Palmerston North ran third in a time of 1:49:05.
Hanlen, who controlled the race right from the start, was pleased with the win.
"I was pretty happy. Last weekend was the opposite, so I really wanted to work on my start," Hanlen said.
"It was quite different compared to the other courses [in the series]. It was pretty flat, but with some really tight sections in the trees. It's always good to be able to ride on some different courses."
Hanlen will be lining up in Rotorua next weekend, with her hopes set on wearing the cross-country national champions jersey once again.
"I'm looking forward to it. I think I'm ready. I'll give it a good go. I've had a lot of support in the last weeks from BikeNZ, and I've been real rapt to get that."
In the elite men's race, junior world champion Anton Cooper snatched the win from elite rider Dirk Peters, after the under-23 and elite categories were combined into one race.
Cooper's winning time of 1:44:12, showed the phenomenal talent the 18-year-old possesses. Rotorua's Dirk Peters finished second in a time of 1:45:50, and Mike Northcott, from Tokoroa ,who came across the line in 1:48:52 to finish third.
Cooper was well aware of the tough competition he would face from his more experienced competitors lining up in the race, especially current national champion Dirk Peters,
"It was really hard work out there today. It's been really tight racing with Dirk. He's an amazing rider and is super talented. He's come a long way recently, and is riding so well. It was tough. He's got a great future."
Cooper hopes that his current form will be enough to win him the national champions jersey next weekend, ahead of his professional season with Cannondale Factory Racing in Europe, racing in the under 23 category for the first time.
"I can't wait for the nationals. I think I've got in it me. I've been working really hard and would love to be able to take that jersey racing overseas. It would be awesome for both me and my team."
The mountain bike national championships will take place next weekend in Rotorua.