Tuesday 18th December: All tracks closed today.

Groombridge Locks Down National Crown

NZ Cross Country Champs

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The New Zealand Cross-country Championships have been locked up and the key thrown away by Bay of Plenty's Brad Groombridge.

There is still one round remaining in this season's cross-country nationals but, as far as Suzuki rider Groombridge is concerned, that really doesn't matter.

The Taupo locksmith won the third round of four in the 2016 nationals, held in Taranaki, about 20 kilometres east of Eltham, on Saturday and that was enough for him to clinch the senior championship overall with a round to spare.

Groombridge had taken his MC2 Suzuki Racing Team RM-Z450 to also win rounds one and two, near Huntly and near Mosgiel respectively, and, with only three of the four rounds to be counted, with riders to discard their one worst result, Groombridge has now put himself well out of strike range of his rivals as they contemplate the fourth and final round near Nelson on May 14.

There seemed to be no stopping the 25-year-old Groombridge on Saturday. 

He took over the lead on the third of seven 28-kilometre laps and, after a battle with Howick's Liam Draper, Groombridge pushed hard over the final lap to win the race by 48 seconds from Draper, with Titirangi's Callan May crossing the line in third place, nearly three minutes further back.

Four-time former national cross-country champion Adrian Smith, of Mokau, settled for fifth overall, behind Pahiatua's Charles Alabaster.

With a perfect 1-1-1 score-card for Groombridge over the three rounds thus far, the senior title is in his possession with a round to spare, although he has advised that he will travel down to race the final round anyway, perhaps in an effort to make it a rare clean sweep.

"I used to live and work in Hawera and so I had ridden here before and knew what to expect," said Groombridge afterwards.

"I got stuck in a bog on lap six when I chose the wrong rut and that's when Liam (Draper) got past me.

"I was riding tall gears to try and conserve fuel. I knew it would be touch and go to whether I'd make it. Put it this way, I was still going at a fairly decent pace, but I was riding conservatively."

Meanwhile, South Islander Keegan Anglesey won the 90-minute junior race held earlier in the day, becoming the third different junior race winner this season, the 16-year-old from Tapawera crossing the finish line 24 seconds ahead of round one winner Logan Shaw, of Raglan, with Eketahuna's Chris Dickson taking the third podium spot.

However, with a 1-2-2 score-card thus far, 15-year-old Shaw is firm favourite to wrap up the junior title at the final round.

For further information contact Simon Meade, General Manager of Motorcycle / ATV Marketing, [email protected].

Photo courtesy of Andy McGechan, BikesportNZ.com

 
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