Great Britain's Bernard Kerr edged out Christchurch's Cam Cole by the narrowest of margins to win the first round of the mountain bike cup series in Bluff today.
Kerr claimed victory in the elite men's downhill race with a time of 2:52.35, a mere 0.04 of a second ahead of Cole on the 1.37km track descending the iconic Bluff Hill.
Kerr won ahead a quality field including riders from France, Japan, Brazil, Canada and New Zealand.
"My race run wasn't perfect, it was really windy which made it difficult to do all of the jumps, but overall I'm really happy," Kerr said. "It was really fun, and I'm looking forward to the next races in the series before I leave in February."
Fellow British rider Jess Stone blitzed her opponents to claim the elite women's victory in a time of 3:29.16, finishing more than 13 seconds ahead of second-place Alanna Columb (Queenstown).
Local knowledge proved valuable for Connor Harvey (Invercargill) in winning the under-19 men's category in 3:07.06, with Raphael Kammlein-Cutler (Dunedin) in second.
Conditions had improved drastically after unseasonably cold weather mid-week and the course should continue to dry out before the cross country racing tomorrow.
Anton Cooper will be looking to dominate the challenging cross country course on Bluff Hill as he prepares for his first full season on the UCI world cup in the under-23 division.