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2011-2012 Australian National Series kicks off in Perth

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Cycling News

Olympic hopefuls begin the path to London Olympics

Sid Taberlay (H2O Overdrive) at the start

Sid Taberlay (H2O Overdrive) at the start

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The first event of the revamped Australian Mountain Bike Series kicks off this weekend, November 19-20 in Perth. It's a welcome return to Western Australia, which last held a round of the National Series in 2004. The Goat Farm Mountain Bike Park in Perth will kick-start the 2011-2012 series which is known as the "All Mountain Cup" or "AMC" for short.

The new AMC will be a spectacle of cross country mountain bike racing that will appeal to all levels of skill and experience, involving both riding prowess and strategy in several different short duration activities.

It will include a number of additional elements over the course of each two-day event. Riders will compete in a stage-like environment, in which performance results will be tallied to determine the overall event winner.

In addition to the centrepiece Olympic-distance cross country event, other formats such as the cross country eliminator and a Super D will be scheduled over the weekend of competition.

Who's coming?

Sid Taberlay, a veteran of 11 world championships who resides in California, is returning to Australia for the MTBA National Series and will be the marked rider in all formats of the All Mountain Cup.

The overall victor in last month's Cape to Cape MTB race Andy Blair will be looking to continue his success in Western Australia, with in form local riders Peter Hatton and Craig Cooke expected to vie for podium positions after weeks of preparation on their home course.

The under 23 category will see exciting racing with new stars to emerge from the ranks as a result of riders moving up to the elite category this year. Having represented Australia at this year's world championships in Champéry, Michael Crosbie, Jack Haig and Cameron Ivory are riders to watch.

In the women's elite event, Jenni King will look to capitalize on experience gained whilst racing mountain bike World Cups in Europe during the Australian winter, whilst Jenny Fay had standout seasons last year and will be challenging King throughout the weekend. Fay is fresh of a win at the Highland Fling last weekend.  Rowena Fry is another top contender to watch.

Cross country racing will happen in Perth on Saturday and will award UCI ranking points. The women will compete at 9:30 am with the men going at noon. On Sunday, the eliminator cross country and super D will make their debuts.

The courses

The cross country course essentially follows the same course that was used for the 2009 Western Australian State Cross Country Championships. The course has 210m of climbing in a 5.42km lap. It is composed of 22 percent wide track and 78 percent singletrack. The start/finish area will be in the race village.

When raced in 2009 the lap times for the winner were about 21 minutes per lap, but when ridden at National Round winning pace, the lap should fit right into the target lap times for the leading rider.

There are no river crossings in the course and regardless the creek is not flowing in March.

The eliminator course is 0.9km long with one descent and one climb while the super D course is 1.9km and drops 108m. Along the way, it gains 16m.