The last ever Gloworm Lights Nduro Winter MTB Series has concluded with typically competitive racing.

In the third and final round on Sunday, Whakatāne's Brad Jones took the win in the men's Long Course, which was enough to claim the overall title.

In the women's Long Course, Palmerston North's Josie Wilcox blitzed the competition for a comfortable win, but it was not enough to prevent Rotorua's Mary Gray claiming the overall title.

The series is made up of three races - in July, August and September - with Sunday's event being the final ever race in the event's 17 year history. It will be replaced with the launch of a new event – the Winter Forest Festival on August 3-4 in 2019 - featuring a Winter Mountain Bike Classic.

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Jones said it was excited to win the last race.

"It's an awesome feeling. I didn't have a great start, but I knew I would be able to get my time back. I'm stoked to have won the last event."

Rotorua's Lewis Ryan in action during the final round of the 2018 Winter MTB Series. Photo / Ezra Newick
Rotorua's Lewis Ryan in action during the final round of the 2018 Winter MTB Series. Photo / Ezra Newick

Jones was pushed all the way by Rotorua's Lewis Ryan on Sunday. Ryan excelled in the downhill and technical sections of the course, while Jones was superior on the climbs.

Ryan said it was the "best possible way" to end the 17-year Winter Mountain Bike Series era, with "the best course so far and a solid challenge out there".

"Brad's world class on the climbs, so you've got to push it real hard on the descents and on the flat to have any sort of chance against him. It was an awesome battle, Brad lengthened it out on the climbs and then I'd give it everything to try to catch him on the descents. It's the kind of race you get here at the winter series."

The women's overall series winner Mary Gray was "really happy" to take away the big win, but acknowledged it was unfortunate Josie Wilcox went the wrong way in the second round, resulting in disqualification affecting her overall result.

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"It's good to be out with so many other mountain bikers, Josie has been strong too. Today was good, I enjoyed it, the second half was a lot better than the first as I had too much pressure in my tyres, so that wasn't great - I had to stop and take some out. As soon as I did that it was a lot more fun and I started to feel good about the climbs."

Mary Gray is crowned the 2018 overall Long Course series winner for the women. Photo / Ezra Newick
Mary Gray is crowned the 2018 overall Long Course series winner for the women. Photo / Ezra Newick

Wilcox said Sunday's race was "really awesome, featuring the best track".

"I went off pretty fast, the guys go pretty hard on the flats and corners, so I just tried to hang on and then we got to the pines and I felt really good, with my advantage being on the climbs."

Gloworm Lights Winter MTB Series director Tim Farmer said the "stunning day and impressive results" were an awesome way to finish the 17-year event on a high.

"I'm looking forward to the next chapter of winter racing in 2019, as having a one-event weekend will be more sustainable for the trails and the impact on the local forest, as well as adding more value to the participants."

The Winter Forest Festival will feature a Winter Mountain Bike Classic, We Run the Forest, kids activities, an expo, food and live music - with more events still to be added.

Winter MTB Series - Round three results
Men' Long Course
1st Brad Jones 1h 50m 6s, 2nd Lewis Ryan 1h 51m 37s, 3rd Taylor Johnston 1h 53m, 4th Cosmo Bloor 1h 53m 39s, 5th Adam Francis 1h 53m 40s.

Women's Long Course
1st Josie Wilcox 2h 6m 13s, 2nd Mary Gray 2h 21m 29s, 3rd Sarah Backler 2h 25m 52s, 4th Lydia Hale 2h 32m 53s, 5th Kym Sherman 2h 37m.