Mountain biker world’s best

Blake Ross racing in the iXS European Downhill Cup series. Photo – Nico Semmler / 7-Twenty Media.

Cambridge has another champion cyclist in our midst, 16-year-old mountain biker Blake Ross. The Year 12 Cambridge High School student has won the 2018 iXS European Downhill Cup series after a successful final round in Austria.

It followed three other rounds; in Maribor, Slovenia, in April, where he placed second, in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, in June, where he also placed second, and in Italy in July where he placed third by a fraction of a second. At the final Austrian round on September 2 he finished second again, adding another top-placing to his overall ranking in the series to secure the title as the best overall Pro U17 male. “I was definitely pretty stoked, got the goal done for the season,” Blake said after returning to Cambridge. “It was pretty cool to see where you’re ranked in the world, rather than just in little old New Zealand.”

Racing on Europe’s mountains proved to be a contrast to the New Zealand bush, with bikers having to traverse steep, rocky terrain. “It was a bit hard at first, but after a while I adapted to it, just did a lot of riding,” he said, adding that the amazing locations were some of the highlights of taking part, as well as racing amongst the world’s best.

Blake Ross is now back in Cambridge training towards his next event.

One part of the competition Blake didn’t expect to see was winding up in an Austrian hospital after sustaining a head injury during practice. Due to the concussion he had to skip the fourth round of the series in the Czech Republic, but luckily all riders only need to compete at four of the five rounds. “It was quite lucky,” said his dad, Mark. “A lot of work goes into it so it’s really good to see him get a result.”

“I’m happy with it, it’s definitely good to get it done,” said Blake. “It was a little bit of stress at the time, but happy to get it done. … It was definitely a good experience.”

With age-group racing wrapping up at the end of the year, Blake will soon be entering under 19 racing, which means taking part in the UCI world cups and championships. He hopes to join the New Zealand U19 team, which would seem likely after he also won two Crankworx rounds this year. But for now, it’s on to racing the New Zealand circuit, starting with the North Island competition next weekend.

Those interested in sponsoring Blake’s journey can contact Mark Ross on Info@unit2go.co.nz.

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