Racing will be fast and furious at Eagle Park in Adelaide when the Subaru Australian National Mountain Bike Season begins for 2014 this Friday and continues throughout the weekend.
In a year that will see Australia host its first mountain bike World Cup round since 2008, all riders will be competing for both national season honours as well as UCI points to assist them in qualifying for the international event to be held in Cairns over Anzac day weekend.
Troy Brosnan is headlining the list of favorites for the downhill race. Brosnan was crowned junior world champion in consecutive years 2010-2011 and last year made had an impressive dlite season to finish ranked in the world's top 10.
"The first round is always exciting, and Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) are looking forward to bringing riders and fans an exciting season of racing," said MTBA President Russ Baker. "The season brings together the best riders our country has and sets them on the path to take on the world. At the same time, it offers something for all levels of riders."
Baker reflected on the location's history in the sport. "Eagle Park in Adelaide has a great record of mountain bike events, including three years of national championships they hosted from 2011-2012."
Racing will start on Friday with the relatively new cross country eliminator format, where heats of four riders battle each other in an elimination format on a short course that brings technical cross country action to the fans in the Eagle Park event centre.
Saturday's focus will be the Olympic cross country races. Many riders will be looking to capitalise on the first round absence of our top-ranked riders, 2012 mountain bike Olympians Bec Henderson and Dan McConnell. 2012 season champion Andrew Blair headlines the men's field and a talented women's field is only missing Henderson from the country's top five riders.
On Saturday, downhillers will also do their timed runs, ensuring plenty of gravity-fuelled action for fans and spectators seeking thrills and spills.
Sunday brings the first round of the series to an action-packed close with downhill action all day. In the elite men's race, Brosnan will face strong competition from a tough field that includes Connor Fearon, both riders having come through the junior ranks together. The elite women's field will be led by Danielle Beecroft, who had a great 2013 highlighted with a second place in the junior women's world championships.
All racing will take place in Eagle Park, Adelaide. Local mountain bike clubs Inside Line Mountain and Adelaide Mountain Bike Club have prepared challenging race-courses for all events.
For more information, visit mtb.subaru.com.au/national-series.
2014 Subaru Australian National Mountain Bike Series
January 17-19: Round 1 - Eagle Park, Adelaide SA
February 7-9: Round 2 - Mt Buller, VIC
February 22-23: Round 3a - Echuca Moama (cross country only)
February 21-23: Round 3b - Thredbo (downhill only)