Just as mountain bike racing is winding down for the season in many parts of the northern hemisphere, it's just getting going in the southern hemisphere, especially in Australia.
Mountain Bike Australia will host five national series races this season between October 2008 and March 2009. The National Championships will again be on in Canberra over the Australia Day long weekend on January 22 - 26. This year New Zealand and other Oceania competitors will head to Thredbo for the Oceania Championships in mid-March. To round off the season, National Marathon Championships will be run in Victoria in late March.
Australia boasts many of the world's best downhillers with most expected to compete throughout the season. Former two-time World Champion Sam Hill from Perth is expected to line up alongside world ranked Gold Coast's Nathan Rennie and Chris Kovarick. Other downhillers moving up the ranks include Gracetown's Mitchell Delfs and Wollongong's Amiel Cavalier.
In the four cross, expect to see Beijing BMX Olympians Jared Graves from Toowoomba and Luke Madill from Sydney at the starts. Other World Cup racers such as Caroline Buchanan from Canberra and Thomas Hubert from Newcastle will also be competing.
In the cross country, Olympians Dan McConnell and Dellys Starr are possible contenders, and strong riders like Adelaide's Chris Jongewaard and up and coming Lachlan Norris from Bendigo are expected to compete. Many of the women being groomed for the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of Australia's "Dirt Road to London" program will start to make their mark this season with riders like Launceston's Rowena Fry, Bendigo's Joe Wall, Manly's Zoe King and Melbourne's Katherine O'Shea. Former National Champion Tory Thomas from Mt Beauty and Brisbane's Jodie Willett will also throw down some challenges this season.