Eliot Jackson piloted his Pivot Phoenix to a second place finish behind Loic Bruni, showing that he's coming into the season with plenty of speed. He's running Race Face's SIXC carbon cranks and 35mm handlebar, with a Shimano Saint rear derailleur and Saint brakes. Jackson wasn't on the newest Fox suspension quite yet – so far that seems to be reserved for the very uppermost echelon of riders, but he's expecting to be running it a little later in the season.
The combination of Gee's flourescent yellow GT Fury 27.5 and his white kit covered in World Champ stripes was hard to miss out on the hill. Unfortunately, a crash during practice left him battered and bruised, and he finished in 9th place on race day.
Rachel Atherton took the win today aboard her teal Fury 27.5, a victory that should help her roll up to the starting line of the first World Cup in two weeks time with a little extra confidence. Her bike was set up with the still-to-be-announced FOX DHX2 shock paired with a FOX 40 up front. It looks like Shimano have a new shoe in the works as well – the AM9
, which keeps the lace cover found on the AM45, but now also has a velcro strap over the midfoot.
Louis Hamilton is a Rotorua local, which meant he had an extra loud contingent of fans out on the course. His Commencal Supreme rolls on Mavic Deemax wheels shod with the 26 x 2.4” version Maxxis' Shorty, a tire that's well suited to the steep and rutted course.
Any guesses as to which Aussie was rocking these pedals? Chunked is a small Australian company that makes crowns, stems, and the Flatout pedal shown here. Unfortunately, Chris Kovarik's podium dreams were thwarted by a flat tire, and he wasn't able to demonstrate his trademark loose style.
Dean Lucas was putting in the runs for Devinci Global Racing aboard his Wilson SL. There was the possibility for rain, so in preparation two strips of Five Ten's dot patterned sticky rubber were glued to his Prologo seat for even more grip in the wet. Luckily the rain held off, and riders were treated to near-perfect dirt conditions.
Sam Blenkinsop was looking fast and comfortable on the course aboard Norco's new carbon Aurum. He was another of the elite riders sporting FOX's DHX2. Given how prevalent the new shock was, it shouldn't be long before the final details and availability are announced.
Bernard Kerr's made a name for himself over the past few months thanks to his insane stoppie skills, so a photo of his front brake on his stealthy Pivot Phoenix was a must. Turns out, it's a stock Shimano Saint brake that gets the credit for allowing him to nose wheelie down the back side of jumps that most riders would be happy enough to successfully clear. Bernard runs Maxxis Minion DHR tires front and rear, but he cuts every other side knob, turning the L-shaped knobs into rectangles, a cut that adds a little more rolling speed but without sacrificing cornering traction.