Christchurch lawyer Amy Laird was surprised when she took out the women's title at the Bike NZ downhill championships in Rotorua last weekend.
The former New Plymouth woman finished behind two-time world champion Emmeline Ragot (France) and England's Jess Stone.
However, with the international riders ineligible for New Zealand honours, Laird took the title.
Ragot, ranked No 2 in the world, was in a class of her own with a superb 3m14.21s effort.
Laird claimed her first national downhill title, ironically after deciding to limit her riding to domestic competition after several years on the international circuit.
She clocked an outstanding 3m31.70s to be half a second faster than favoured Alanna Columb (Queenstown).
"I can't believe it," Laird said.
"I had just about the perfect run," she said.
"I could have pushed more but I knew I had to hold it together in the dusty stuff.
"I don't ride so much now and I think it did help because you don't scare yourself with expectations and you come in feeling good and relaxed.
"For all these years, I have been trying so hard to win and this year I was happy to cruise and have fun with my friends and it shows that when you are having fun, it works out well."
World No 5 ranked mountainbiker Brook McDonald, of Whanganui, claimed his first national title when he won the men's race.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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