New Zealand mountain biker Samara Sheppard rode the perfect race to win the UCI under-23 crosscountry world cup in Canada today.
Sheppard, who rides for the Swiss Wheeler IXS team, pushed hard from the start to dominate the race, winning by nearly two minutes on arguably the toughest track on the world cup circuit at Mont Sainte Anne near Quebec City.
It presented an early birthday gift for the Rotorua-based Wellington rider, who turns 22 tomorrow.
"It means everything," Sheppard said. "Wow my first World Cup win is pretty awesome but I was so, so exhausted I couldn't even open my bottle of bubbles on the podium."
It was a double podium day for the New Zealanders with Rotorua student Amber Johnston finishing third in the junior women's race.
Johnston, the Oceania under-19 champion, held off Canada's Rachel Pageau in a sprint finish for third place. She finished only 2:39 from winner Frederique Tredel (CAN) in her first world cup start.
Earlier Brad Hudson and Tom Bradshaw finished mid-pack in the men's under-23 race.
The junior crosscountry will be raced tomorrow, with six New Zealand riders qualifying for the final of the downhill.
- © Fairfax NZ News