Meanwhile, on the other side of the world.


The Urge 3 Peaks Enduro endurance downhill mountain biking race has attracted an international field for this weekend's racing in Dunedin, New Zealand. (December 6 and 7, 2014).

Organisers expect about 200 riders to line up at the race start on the summit of Flagstaff on Saturday morning and among them are 10 Australians, two riders from Switzerland and one rider from France.



"We also have the top five female enduro athletes in New Zealand coming to the event with defending champ Rosara Joseph facing Meg Bichard, local favourite Anja McDonald, Raewyn Morrison and Kate Fluker this year," offers race director Tom Bradshaw (below right).

Among the men, Bradshaw said defending champion Jamie Nicoll would face his toughest challenge from 2014 Commonwealth Games Cross-Country gold medallist Anton Cooper along with downhill specialists Sam Shaw, Jimmy Pollard who would also pose a threat to the top step of the podium.

Organised by local bike shop Bike Otago in conjunction with Mountain Biking Otago, the 2014 Urge 3 Peaks Enduro features stages on each of the three tallest peaks surrounding Dunedin's CBD: Flagstaff (668m), Mt Cargill (676m) and Signal Hill (393m) over two days of racing.

Race founder Kashi Leuchs (above left) said feedback from the first two years of the event had led to a raft of improvements for the 2014 edition.

"We decided to make it a two-day event – people wanted to ride more," he offers. "It's a long way to travel to Dunedin so it makes sense to stage it across two full days."

Leuchs said that also meant they could have more riding on Signal Hill, which was a major drawcard for competitors.

"It's our favourite place to ride around here – amazing tracks and I think we've stepped it up in terms of the technical riding. There are some pretty full-on tracks down Signal Hill and a few surprises for riders this year."

The organisers have also added in a new trail at Nichols Creek – a descending line that Leuchs said would be challenging at speed.

Bradshaw said the new trail added a new aspect to the first day of the race.

"Each third of the trail is different. We have a slow, tight section up the top and then an open and fast section through farmland and then a completely new section of singletrack down the bottom."

The trail build was led by Dylan Sanchez-Pinsent who had a lot of experience building flowing trails with NZ Trail Solutions, explained Leuchs, who added that it was quite a different type of track for Dunedin.

"Anyone can have fun on this new trail," adds Bradshaw.

"The perfect enduro trail in my mind is one that a competent rider can ride comfortably, but a highly skilled rider will be able to make up a lot more time on," explains Leuchs. "I think we have achieved that with some of the trails this year and I can't wait to hear the riders comments on Sunday afternoon."

Leuchs added that the event was as much about providing a challenging race as it was about creating an event that all the riders enjoyed.

Riders to watch:

Anton Cooper - 20
Riding for the Cannondale Factory professional team, the 2014 Commonwealth Games Champion is out for vengeance at the 2014 Urge 3 Peaks event. A mechanical while in the lead of last year's event took away any chance of victory. The former Junior World XC Champion will be focusing on making amends and adding the Urge 3 Peaks title to his already impressive trophy cabinet.

Jamie Nicoll - 36
The 2014 Urge 3 Peaks winner. The defending champion has just returned from his first full-time professional season racing the Enduro World Series in Europe and America. Jamie spent months in 2013 training in Dunedin and will be looking to put this local knowledge to use.

Sam Shaw - 22
Rotorua-based rider Sam Shaw placed second in the inaugural Urge 3 Peaks Enduro in 2012. The World Cup cross-country rider turned enduro specialist is one to watch out for. The years of cross-country training and pure speed of Sam will make him hard to beat on any of the pedally stages.

Meg Bichard - 29
Meggie is the number 1 ranked female enduro rider in the country. Based out of Nelson, Meggie has enjoyed a solid year racing the Enduro World Series in Europe and America with a number of top 10 finishes. The 3 Peaks title has eluded Meg, but the UK ex-pat will be a top contender for this year's title coming off the back of her most successful international season yet.

Raewyn Morrison - 25
Growing up on the Kapiti Coast the former cross-country specialist is now fully focused on Enduro racing. She spent the New Zealand winter in Canada racing to some great results on the tough BC enduro circuit. Now based out of Nelson, Raewyn will be one to watch – as the weekend wears on her fitness will be her major strength.



About Urge 3 Peaks Enduro

3rd Edition in 2014
5 stages over 2 days
Riders ride up to the peaks and then are timed on the descents.

Race Schedule

Saturday, Dec 6
Start for first rider
Stage 1: Bull Pen 9:30am
Stage 2: Top of Nichols Creek Track at 10:40am
Stage 3: Top of Mt Cargill at 11:45am

Sunday, Dec 7
Start for first rider
Stage 4: Signal Hill Summit 10:00am
Stage 5: Signal Hill Summit 11:50am