In a sign that the world MTB community is taking August's Rotarua, New Zealand World Championships seriously even in March, promoters of the Oceania Championships (which will be held on the same terrain as Worlds), say that they expect huge crowds of racers, fans and UCI observers this weekend.
"There is no doubt that the MTB Oceania Championships are the biggest cycling event undertaken by New Zealand," said UCI Vice President Ray Godkin to BikeNZ earlier this week.
The extra attention the race is getting is, no doubt, due to the upcoming World Championship race. BikeNZ's Ted Jones says that non Oceania-region athletes are not normally permitted and the decision to open the field has brought a lot of brand-name mountain bikers eager to get an early shot at the World Championship course to New Zealand. Over 250 riders from places as far away as Italy, Switzerland, USA, New Caledonia and more are expected including this list of who's who:
- Fabien Barel – 2 times and reigning World Champion Downhiller from France
- Tracy Moseley – World ranked number 1 downhiller from Britain
- Sam Hill – runner up to Barel at 2005 Downhill World MTB Champs from Australia and 8th ranked in world
- Sabrina Jonnier – runner up at 2005 Downhill World Champs and third ranked in world from France
- Vanessa Quin - former Downhill world Champ from NZ
- Geoff Kabush – Number 1 Cross Country rider from Canada
- All of NZ and Australian Commonwealth Games XC riders
- Scarlett Hagen – former junior Downhill World Champ from NZ
- Lewis Ferguson – Number 1 cross country rider for Northern Ireland
- The Scottish cross country Commonwealth Games squad
- Cedric Gracia – world 6th rank downhiller biker from France
- Lisa Mathison – former U23 cross country World Champ from Australia
- Over 40 Australian cross country and downhill competitors
Check back on Cyclingnews through and after the weekend for results and news from the races.