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Multi-stage mountain bike race The Prospector returns to Alexandra tomorrow with the best of New Zealand’s cross country mountain bikers to compete.

First held last year, the race is the brainchild of Alexandra locals James Williamson and Phil Oliver and follows Central Otago’s rich gold mining history, with many of the routes and trails in the hills formed by miners.

A multi-stage race over three days, The Prospector is raced by riders in teams of two, where the teams with the lowest overall time are crowned race champions.

The courses challenge riders with a large amount of technical grade 3 and 4 single track on offer as well as many climbs, with nearly 4000m total elevation gain in the event in the hills surrounding the town.

Mr Williamson said excitement around the event was building.

“We are just stoked to be able to host our event in these times and give our riders and our local community something to look forward to.

“We have limited our race to two groups of 100 riders so we could make sure we delivered a safe and competitive event for everyone.”

“We have had to do a lot of due diligence over the past months to make sure we are adhering to Covid-19 protection framework and are confident in our processes.

“We are super excited to showcase Central Otago, Alexandra and our local hospitality to all these top riders and really put our epic three-day mountain bike stage race on the map.”

With the borders opening for New Zealanders just in time for the event, Clyde-born Samara Sheppard had confirmed her return from Australia with her Australian partner Kyle Ward to compete.

A multiple national and Oceania MTB champion, Sheppard said she was thrilled to return and race.

“We are super excited to jump over the ditch to race the Prospector MTB race together.

“We love the landscape around Alexandra and can’t wait to explore new sections where the Prospector race will take us.”

Having competed in many mountain bike events around the world, it was great to be able to experience a challenge of this calibre close to home, she said.