Mountain bike national champions to be crowned
Adelaide will once again be the cycling capital of Australia when it hosts the 2012 Australian Mountain Bike Championships from February 22 to 26. This weekend, all eyes will be on the Eagle Mountain Bike Park for five days of cross dountry, downhill, four cross and observed trials action, with a host of Australia's mountain bike elite set to contest the championships.
With the London 2012 Olympic Games now less than 200 days away, the Olympic format cross country races will attract much of the attention with many mouth watering contests in both the men's and women's fields.
All Mountain Cup standings leader Andrew Blair has been the most consistent throughout the season to date, taking the win in the opening round in Perth and finishing third in Mt Buller. Blair will face tough opposition from former national champion and 2008 Olympian Dan McConnell, who claimed the honours at both Mt Buller and Stromlo last weekend.
Four-time national cross country champion Chris Jongewaard will be eager to defend his title as he aims for London, with 2011 under 23 champion Paul Van Der Ploeg showing recent strong form in the elite fields. Sid Taberlay is also be expected to perform strongly.
In the women's cross country, series leader Jenni King has been in scintillating form taking the win in all three rounds, however a fierce battle looms with defending champion Katherine O'Shea and rising young star Rebecca Henderson, the 2011 Cycling Australia Elite Female Mountain Biker of the year and under 23 national champion. Both are showing solid form of late. The trio will be pushed to the limit however from Tasmania's Rowena Fry who will take a leave of absence from her GreenEdge-AIS team to contest the championships.
In the downhill competition, Troy Brosnan and Tracey Hannah, currently undefeated in the Gravity Cup, are unbackable favourites in their respective competitions.
A first-year elite competitor, the two-time reigning junior world champion Brosnan has been simply superb throughout the entire Gravity Cup Series, with three-time downhill world champion Sam Hill showing his class his comeback season following injury.
In the women's field, former junior world champion Hannah will be up against a 2004 Olympian in the cross country event in Lisa Mathison, who despite only having been riding downhill for a matter of weeks after a four-year lay off, has been turning heads around the country in her new discipline.
The event boats an international flavour with four-time four cross world champion and multiple World Cup winner Jill Kintner of the United States to also line up.
The action will get under way on Thursday with the team relay. Cross country racing will happen Friday and Saturday with the elites racing on Saturday. Short track and downhill racing will occur on Sunday.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage.
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