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Absalon, Hermida expected for Roc d'azur

Approximately 17,000 cycling enthusiasts are expected to converge for the 27th annual Roc d'Azur in the François Léotard nature reserve in Fréjus, Roquebrune-sur-Argens and Sainte-Maxime, France. The festivities, which include everything from pro mountain bike racing to amateur racing, expos, trials competitions and tandem off-road racing, are scheduled from October 7-10, 2010.

The Roc d'Azur is the last major mountain bike event on the European calendar, and it marks the final hurrah of the season for many international competitors.

Two dozen events, many of them cross country and marathon mountain bike races, are on tap for this year's edition. The most famous is the Roc d'Azur cross country with its 53km and 1860m of climbing on Sunday, October 10 (note: 42km for the women on Friday, October 9 - Ed.). This year's event is a UCI category HC point-to-point cross country. A UCI Category C2 marathon, the Roc Marathon 83, is also being run on Thursday, October 8.

Other events include races for various categories, including tandems, children and even journalists and members of the bike industry. A trade show expo, open to the public, will include 250 exhibitors over 20,000 square meters.

This year's edition will be run with the memory of Alain Bianchi in mind. He became Roc d'Azur race director in 1997. He died on July 11 following a heart attack while on a bike ride according to velo101.com

A regular since 1995, Frenchman Julien Absalon is expected to attend. He'll be joined by cross country world champion Jose Antonio Hermida.

Last year, Roel Paulissen won the Roc Marathon 83 and the Roc d'Azur; however the Belgian will be absent from the elite competition this year after having tested positive for clomiphene in July. Aleksandra Dawidowicz is the defending women's Roc d'Azur champion.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.