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Jared Graves (Yeti)
Graves, Buchanan lead the charge in Slovenia
Australia's three World Champions headline 17 Aussies in action on the dirt in Maribor, Slovenia, this weekend May 15-16, for the third round of the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
2009 four cross World Champions Jared Graves and Caroline Buchanan, and two-time downhill World Champion Sam Hill are leading the charge, in what will be a major test ahead of the World Championships in Canada later this year.
Buchanan will have the opportunity to race in the coveted rainbow jersey of World Champion for the first time on the international stage. The 19-year-old arrived in Maribor in ominous form after a sensational domestic series on the mountain bike and encouraging results on the world BMX circuit which sees her currently sitting in second position on the BMX World Cup standings.
"I can't wait to ride in the UCI Stripes and on my new Commencal bike," said Buchanan. "I'm feeling pretty confident after some great World Cup BMX results, however all of the girls on the World Cup circuit are the best out there and all have a chance at winning the gold."
"I believe that the training and preparations on my BMX bike have taken my skills to the next level, and I am excited to see where I am at on the mountain bike scene."
Buchanan returns to Maribor to defend her gold medal and recent small changes to the course should be good for the Canberra local. "Last year the muddy conditions didn't suit me but Jill (Kintner) and Anneke (Beerten) had a crash in the final and I took the win. I have heard that this year there are some changes to the course that I think will suit me."
Buchanan hasn't competed in a four cross event since taking the national title in Adelaide in January, her hectic mountain bike and BMX commitments a fine balance.
Along with fellow four cross rider Jared Graves, Buchanan was this week named in the Australian team to contest the UCI World BMX Championships in South Africa in July.
Although Buchanan is one of Australia's best hopes for a BMX gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, her sights are still firmly set on defending her world four cross title later this year.
"So far 2010 has been very successful already, no major injuries, winning the Australian four cross national title and having great results on the BMX. I am training harder than ever before with my sights set firmly on 2012 London Olympics.
"Defending my world title is a major goal of mine this year. I believe that I am stronger than last year I'm feeling more confident than ever."
Graves (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team) is looking to cement his position on top of the World Cup table in the men's race this weekend.
The 27-year-old opened his 2010 campaign with a convincing win under lights in Houffalize, Belgium, two weeks ago, picking up where he left off after claiming the World Cup victory last year.
And the battle in the thrilling men's downhill will be wide open.
In the downhil, Australia also has high podium hopes including former World Champion Sam Hill, world championships bronze medallist Michael Hannah and 2010 national champion Chris Kovarik, who will all be in the mix for the medals, but the trio will face strong opposition from reigning world champion Steve Peat and silver medallist Greg Minnaar.
Australia's downhill riders for the World Cup in Maribor, Slovenia
Australia's four cross riders for the World Cup in Maribor, Slovenia