All eyes will focus on the best mountain bikers in the Australia racing in the final round of the Real Insurance Australian Mountain Bike Season in Newcastle this weekend, March 2-4.
The season that began in Perth in November has travelled to Thredbo, Mt Buller and Canberra, through all kinds of challenging terrain and conditions.
The revamped Real Insurance Australian 2011-2012 MTB season was divided into two halves, with the Gravity Cup encompassing the downhill side of the sport and the All Mountain Cup providing the stage for the cross country riders to battle on.
In the men's side of the Gravity Cup, reigning dual junior world champion and newly crowned downhill national champion Troy Brosnan is leading the season by a dominant 79.5 points from over three-time elite world champion Sam Hill. With 120 points on offer for the Gravity Cup in Newcastle, Brosnan will be the clear favourite to take the Cup, a phenomenal achievement in his rookie season in the elite category.
2006 junior world champion Tracey Hannah has already won the women's Gravity Cup with a safe 151-point lead. And while the recently crowned downhill national champion will not be present due to international commitments, she will leave both the mountain bike community and her competitors in awe of her flawless undefeated season in her return to the sport. Michelle Crisp and Trudy Nicholas sit in a close second and third respectively, and are expected to have a great battle in Newcastle.
All Mountain Cup
In the All Mountain Cup, experience is shining through with two of Australia's senior riders currently in the lead, with Andrew Blair holding a 33-point lead from 2004 Olympian Sid Taberlay.
With 80 points up for grabs, Taberley would need to find some of his best form to attempt to reel-in Blair, who after an excellent first two rounds of the series reconfigured his goals and has focussed on maintaining his lead to win the Cup. The talented Josh Carlson will be racing to defend his third and possibly push for a second-place with some excellent results.
Jenni King, will be racing in the green and gold stripes after winning her first cross country national championship last weekend in Adelaide. It's not as if King needed more confidence coming in to Newcastle, as she has also wrapped up the All Mountain Cup with an unassailable lead of 125 points.
King is having the summer that most athletes only ever dream of, winning eight out of 11 elite national races she has entered, and will be racing in Newcastle to put the icing on the cake of her best ever season.
Every second will count for resurgent Jodie Willet and Jenny Fay, sitting in second and third place in the season respectively. Willet is a slender nine points in front of Fay.
Racing will be take place at Awaba Mountain Bike Park, a purpose built facility at Mount Fork Road Cooranbong.
This is the first time that a round of the Australian MTB Season has been held in the Hunter region on Awaba tracks. ll Awaba trails have excellent vantage points with trail-side access. With dynamic viewing and free entry, the general public is welcome to come and see the most skilled riders in the country battle it out for the Australian MTB season finale.
A cross country time trial will happen on Friday. Next up will be an Olympic cross country race and on Sunday, there will be a 25km point-to-point cross country race. Gravity racers will also complete seeding runs on and final runs on Sunday.