Australian Paul Van Der Ploeg proved he was back in form this weekend after a knee injury earlier this year. The 21-year-old finished third in both the cross country and short track at the Australian Mountain Bike Series in Hobart. He was also the top Under 23 finisher in each race.
In both events, Van Der Ploeg was beaten only by four-time national champion Chris Jongewaard and last year's national series champion Lachlan Norris. With his good results in Australia, Van Der Ploeg showed his ambitions ahead of the upcoming World Cup season.
The Felt Ötztal X-Bionic racer had suffered a patellar tendon injury halfway through the season, forcing him to miss the world championships in September.
Please with his cross country results in Hobart, he said, "It's a technical track, so that suits me and I'm very happy I came in third against the elite guys. Chris and Lachlan really made it a thrilling race. I could not train much over the last months and now, after a few weeks of solid training, I feel like I'm riding faster every day."
Winner Jongewaard recognized the young Australian's efforts, "These young guys were snapping at my heels and have made a big improvement since last season. They have really stepped up the level of mountain biking in Australia."
Of the second day of racing, Van Der Ploeg said, "It was a very hard short track, and I was very tired after Saturday's long race."
After two rounds of the Australian Mountain Bike Series, van der Ploeg leads the Under 23 rankings. Nonetheless, he's trying not to come into top form too soon. His focus, the World Cup season, will not begin until April 2011 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.