Downhiller takes on cross country stars at World Championship warm-up
Some racers take weeks off to taper for the World Championships while others race right up until the big day. Downhiller Mick Hannah (Team GT) will do a point-to-point cross country race in Cairns on August 30, just days before the World Championships in Canberra.
Hannah, a regular on the UCI World Cup downhill circuit, was a surprise inclusion in the 19th edition of Australia's Triple RRR Classic from Mount Molloy to Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland. Currently ranked fifth in the UCI World Cup downhill, Hannah will start the point-to-point race as a final hit-out. He'll be among 300 cyclists, the largest field in the race's history.
The Triple RRR is one of a few cross country events in the mountain biking world to feature an overall negative gradient, which offers both endurance riders and downhillers opportunities for the overall prize.
"It's awesome to welcome back one of the Cairns Mountainbike Club's favourite sons for the Triple RRR," said race organizer and co-founder Peter Blakey.
"Mick Hannah brings to the race an ideal skill set, with a combination of pure power and world class descending and we expect him to be right up there when the leaders reach the Bump."
Australia's longest running point-to-point MTB event, the Triple RRR Classic was established almost two decades ago when two of Australia's mountainbike legends Glen Jacobs and Blakey set off on a journey to re-discover the historic "Bump Track". The perilous descent to ritzy Port Douglas was originally carved out of the rainforest with picks and shovels by gold miners in the 19th Century.
The seed was planted for a unique race incorporating the Rural outback and the world heritage Rainforest, before finishing on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
Several of Australia's greatest downhillers have attempted the event in the past including Michael Ronning and Chris Kovarik, who made trips to the podium. Cross country specialists have also enjoyed their share of the race spoils over the 44-kilometre journey, with many-time winner, Crocodile Trophy veteran David Wood, among those who will challenge Hannah when the race starts in Mount Molloy.
In the women's race, another of Australia's World Championship hopefuls is expected to feature prominently. Atherton Tableland teenager Gillian Burgess will have local knowledge on her side in her final race before heading to Canberra to represent Australia in the junior world cross country event.
"We are expecting the women's race to be a particularly close fought affair," Blakey said.Gillian Burgess put in a solid showing at the recent Paluma Push, but it wasn't enough to stop Abby McLennan winning the race for the third time."
Having won the past two editions, McLennan will be attempting to make it a dual three-peat in North Queensland. Counting against her will be a brutal training program as McLennan looks to her major objective for the year, The Crocodile Trophy.
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