Wanganui's Sam Blenkinsop has won the opening event of the New Zealand Mountainbike Championships, the dual slalom competition in Nelson.
Blenkinsop, the world's No 7 ranked downhiller, was too slick for visiting Scotland representative Ben Cathro in the ride-off for the final with Christchurch's Cameron Cole taking out third place.
The 21-year-old Blenkinsop will be a strong contender for the downhill title on Sunday.
Two-time world champion Sabrina Jonnier from France was the fastest in the senior women's competition from Christchurch's Amy Laird who took out the national title from Blenheim's Harriet Harper with visitors ineligible for New Zealand honours.
Experienced Nelson rider George Bennett proved too strong in the gruelling 3km hill climb, clocking 16m07s. He held off Upper Hutt's Gavin McCarthy by just nine seconds with Australian James Walker third fastest.
Dunedin's Erin Greene won the senior women's title but the outstanding performance came from former national cycling representative Susy Wood (Nelson) who cleaned up the masters' division and grabbed the fastest time of the day, clocking 20m05s in perfect conditions.
The crosscountry is on Saturday and the downhill on Sunday.