Cranking it up for Rotorua

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Queenstown’s mountain bike heavy-hitters are preparing to mix it with the best at the world’s biggest mountain bike festival.

A roll-call of the top riders who live or train summers in the resort is northbound for Crankworx Rotorua.

Kelly McGarry, National Downhill champion George Brannigan, Conor Macfarlane, Jimmy Pollard, Ed Masters, Tom Lamb and Emerson Wilken are among the elite men set to compete in various events.

National Downhill champion Alana Columb, world enduro racer Erin Greene, and Natalie Jakobs will represent the resort’s women.

Star freerider Kelly McGarry and Queenstown Mountain Bike Club president Tom Hey have designed the jaw-dropping course for the New Zealand Slopestyle Champs at the festival - a diamond event on the FMB World Tour.

McGarry says: “It’s taken six weeks to build but it’s turned out really awesome.

“It seems like all the riders are really stoked.

“There’s a huge buzz about the town, all the riders are turning up from all over the world.

“There’s a crew from Queenstown and hopefully they’ll go well against the other riders.”

Versatile Macfarlane, 23, who took second place at Queenstown Slopestyle last week, plans to compete in several events.

Macfarlane says: “It was an awesome crowd in Queenstown and awesome event all around.

“I was pretty stoked to get second and get on the podium.

“Obviously I’d love to do the slopestyle at Crankworx but it’s hard to get in to, big invite, so maybe another year.”

Macfarlane plans to compete in the Enduro World Series (EWS), the Speed and Style, and the Australasia whip-off champs at the festival.

“I’m looking forward to it - it’s a massive event for New Zealand.”

He’ll start next to wildcard entry Jimmy Pollard in the EWS.

Pollard, who won the Super D Enduro at Queenstown Bike Festival, says: “I’m feeling pretty good, as fit and fast as I’ve been recently.

“I’m up in Rotorua already. There’s a hive of activity around town and the forest is noticeably busier, people getting familiar with the terrain.”

Rotorua is the first venue for the Crankworx World Tour 2015, which also takes in Les 2 Alpes, France, and Whistler, Canada.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz