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Downhill's finest heading to Cairns for UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
No less than seven downhill world and six World Cup champions will descend on the Smithfield Rainforest in Cairns later this month for the second round of the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
The World Cup features events in nine countries, across four continents with riders contesting six rounds in the Olympic cross country, downhill and eliminator events across the elite, under 23 and junior categories. The opening round was recently held in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on April 10-13.
Dubbed the "Rumble in the Rainforest", the three-day Cairns event begins on April 25 and over 300 riders are expected to converge on tropical North Queensland along with tens of thousands of fans.
A star studded men's downhill field includes two-time reigning world champion Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate), with the three-time overall series champion boasting sixteen career World Cup wins including 60 podiums from 97 starts.
Reigning World Cup Series winner Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing), 2008 world and 2010 series champion Gee Atherton (GT Factory Racing) and exciting young-gun Loic Bruni (Lapierre Gravity Republic) are all heading Down Under.
Australia will be well represented by Cairns native and 2013 world championship silver medallist Michael Hannah (Hutchinson UR), who finished sixth overall last season and will be aiming for a strong showing on his home track.
Hannah will be joined by fellow Australians Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles.com / Nukeproof), a three-time world and two-time series champion, and Troy Brosnan (Specialised Racing DH) who claimed both the junior world title and World Cup series crown in 2010 and 2011, and enjoyed success in the 2013 Series with six top-10 finishes.
Reigning world and three-time series champion Rachel Atherton (Great Britain/Atherton Racing) will look to continue her dominance of the women's scene and add to her decorated resume that already includes 19 World Cup victories, however it was Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) who won the opener in Pietermaritzburg.
A strong French women's contingent includes 2009 and 2011 world champion Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic), who will be gunning for the top step of the World Cup podium after finishing runner up in the 2012 and 2013 series, and 2012 world champion Morgane Charre (Evil Vengeance Tour).
Like elder brother Michael, former junior world champion Tracey Hannah (Hutchinson UR), will be looking to excite the home crowds and claim her second career World Cup win. Being limited to just four of six events in each of the past two seasons, Hannah finished 10th in 2013 and fourth overall in 2012.