The Australian National Mountain Bike Series is set for this coming weekend in Thredbo, Australia's highest-mountain ski resort located in the Kosciuszko National Park. The weekend kicks off on Friday, December 16th with round five of the mountain-cross series and continues through Sunday with round three of the downhill series.
Three strong mountain-cross riders are expected to fight for the wins on Thredbo's new mountain cross track. World Silver medalist, Jared Graves will race for the first time since the world championships held in Livigno, Italy in September. He will line up alongside BMX 2000 World Champion Wade Bootes and Jared Rando; current National Series Leader.
Graves was a late entry in the event to after recovering from a leg injury after a high speed training crash last week. Graves only decided late Tuesday to race and is looking to make it four from four after winning his last three races at the Thredbo course. After a tenth at the World Championships in mountain cross, Bootes will make one of his last appearances at a Mountain Bike event as he begins to focus on making selection for Beijing Olympics in 2008. BMX makes its debut in Beijing with Australia able to select 3 men and 2 women. Bootes explained, “It is becoming harder and harder to be successful at both as the races between BMX and MTB are conflicting a lot more these days and selection process for National teams are getting harder and harder due to the talent Australia is producing.”
Bootes sees the sport of Mountain Cross and BMX as having an important link. “BMX is the breeding ground for any cycling discipline and a lot more MTB riders are now doing BMX in their off season to train. Both sports help each other in different ways and both are great for cross training,” said Bootes.
Local favourite Jared Rando is keen to upset both Bootes and long time rival Graves and continue his recent good form. A win this weekend will ensure that Rando will take the series win ahead of the National Championships to be held in Thredbo in January.
Also in the picture are Sydney based Luke Strom and Dennis Beare from Cairns currently second and third respectively in the Mountain Cross Series.
Rando but will also back up on Sunday in the Downhill event to try to keep his second position in the current series. He is only 30 points behind current series leader and World Silver Medalist, Sam Hill from Perth . Hill is not expected to enter this weekend's event because he is currently overseas.
Four hundred riders are expected to arrive in Thredbo over the next few days to practice and race on the Downhill course and the newly built Mountain Cross track. Mountain Cross racing start at 6pm on the course at The Friday Flats course was designed by the world renowned Glen Jacobs who also designed the Sydney Olympic Cross Country Course.