21 May 2012

Sheppard third in under-23 mountainbiking in France

6:35 am on 21 May 2012

The New Zealand mountain biker Samara Sheppard charged home on the final lap to earn a podium finish in the fourth round of the World Cup in France.

The 22-year-old was still in fifth place half way through the final lap of four of the women's under-23 race at La Bresse before producing a withering burst to pip South Africa's Candice Neethling on the line for third.

It is the first under-23 World Cup podium for Sheppard, who is racing for the Swiss-based Wheelers iXS pro team this year.

It follows her outstanding fourth placing in last week's world cup round in the Czech Republic.

The New Zealander has now moved to eighth overall on the world cup standings at the midpoint of the championship.

Sheppard now has a break for a month until her next race, with her performances over the last two weeks cementing her qualification for September's world championships.

Meanwhile the Rotorua pair of Dirk Peters and Sam Shaw finished 38th and 48th respectively from 91 starters in the men's under-23 race.

Whakatane's Karen Hanlen is the only kiwi racing in the elite women's race tomorrow after Olympic rival Rosara Joseph broke her wrist after crashing in practice.