Big names set to enter event
Wright ready to defend title
Paul Wright, 17, could be reluctantly handing over his crown on the weekend.
The Mt Aspiring College pupil is the reigning King of Sticky Forest after winning the annual mountainbike race last year, even beating the Red Bull-sponsored adventure racer Braden Currie who found himself in second place on the podium.
However, Wright has new competition – Commonwealth Games gold medallist Anton Cooper.
Cooper and Queenstown-based Commonwealth Games rider Kate Fluker will be entering the popular event this year.
Wright sees the addition of Cooper in the men’s race as making the competition ‘‘interesting’’.
‘‘He’s quite fast but I’ve never raced against him before.
‘‘We’ll see what happens out there. Anything can happen in a race – he could puncture,’’ he said.
Cooper is no slug himself. He is ranked New Zealand’s top under-19 rider and has qualified for the age group world champs in Andorra in August.
Wright is training as much as he can – about 15 hours aweek after school – with the hope of becoming a professional athlete next year.
He takes what opportunities he can to improve.
‘‘I’m lucky because I know people who know Anton so whenever he’s in town we just go riding with him and talk to him and learn so much.’’
Saturday’s race would be a good opportunity to gauge how he measures up against the best in the country, he said.
Father and race organiser Scott Wright said it was hoped the addition of the top cyclists would see the number of competitors increase from about 70 to more than 100.
There were cash prizes for the podium placers in the open category.
However, the track was excellent for all ages and capabilities.
‘‘The idea is to get even little young sprockets in there. They can come out and ride the same course as Kate and Anton,’’ Scott said.
The course was about 3.5km. Open riders would complete four laps, weekend warriors would do three and beginners would do two.
Entries were $20 and could be completed online via the Facebook page – a process Scott described as ‘‘butter smooth’’.
Paul Wright of Wanaka on his way to being named the top under-19 mountainbiker in New Zealand, in Auckland this year.
What: King and Queen of Sticky MTB race
Where: Sticky Forest, Wanaka
When: Saturday May 2, at 10.30am Registrations: Open via the event Facebook page and available on the day