The Pure Tasmania Wildside MTB stage race is returning to Tasmania January 19 through 22. With a record 450 riders from all Australian states and territories, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, the race is seeing a 50% growth over any previous year for 2008.
The four day event, which welcomes a new naming rights sponsor, will start at Cradle Mountain Chateau and finish at Strahan Village. Pure Tasmania has signed a three-event sponsorship deal over six years; the race is held every two years and spans seven competition stages linked by six cruising stages, all over a course of 200km.
This edition could be the year of opportunity for emerging riders with some elite riders opting to rest before the national championships the following weekend. Four-time winner Sid Taberlay is yet to confirm his entry, thereby leaving Launceston's Ben Mather as the early favorite. Mather has been returning consistent top ten results in the national series and has expressed his winning intentions for the Wildside.
Rowena Fry, also of Launceston, is the clear favourite for the women's event. Fry, part of the Australian Sports Commission's Dirt Roads to London cycling program has stamped her mark on this season's national series with a string of podium finishes and a win in the recent short course cross country on the Gold Coast. Her most likely challenger will be Hobart veteran Eleanor Patterson who is known for her strength and consistency in events such as Wildside MTB.
For more information, visit www.wildsidemtb.com.