Australia's best mountain bikers about to start summer season

After winning more gold than any other nation at the world championships in September this year, Australia's best mountain bike riders will return to put on a show on home soil during the 2010-11 Jayco Australian Mountain Bike Series, which kicks off this weekend on November 19-21 at the You Yangs near Geelong.

Riders will not only be vying for the series title and bragging rights, but AUS$40,000 in prize money which will be up for grabs over the summer domestic series.

After the opening round at the You Yangs this weekend, the series then moves to Glenorchy Park in Hobart from December 10 to 12, where all disciplines - cross country, four cross and downhill - will feature. This will be followed by two stints in the Victorian high country, where the downhillers will take on the challenging terrain at Mt Baw Baw from January 14 to 16 before joining the cross country riders at Mt Buller from February 4 to 6.

Coinciding with a massive weekend of cycling action in Shepparton from March 18 to 20, the series will hit its crescendo for the final round in conjunction with the 2011 Oceania Mountain Bike Championships.

The national series provides an opportunity for not only the established stars to shine but the young guns to impress selectors ahead of the 2011 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships which will be staged in Champery, Switzerland next year.

Mountain Bike Australia Sporting Director Chris Clarke said that he was looking forward to a hard hitting contest this summer season. "Following our successful world championships campaign, I expect the standard of racing to be higher than ever before," Clarke said.

"However we have also been working hard to develop our young riders to ensure this success continues and we remain a force on the world stage in years to come. Although this is difficult due to funding cuts, we recently held a junior development camp to focus the direction of our younger athletes by providing them with the tools to help with their aims of wearing the green and gold.

"This summer, I expect intense competition in the junior categories as they strive to be selected in an Australian squad."

Clarke also pointed toward elite riders like downhiller and three-time World Champion Sam Hill to continue to be a world force as they set themselves up for another year on the World Cup circuit.

"It will also be great to watch the transition of Holly Baarspul into the elite female downhill ranks as she comes to grip with the increase in competition," said Clarke.

"With the 2012 London Olympic Games just around the corner, our cross country riders will need to step up. They will have to show consistent performances across the series to remain in contention for the Olympic berths on offer."

Australia reigned in their best ever medal haul at this year's world titles campaign with Caroline Buchanan winning back-to-back women's four cross titles, Hill bouncing back from injury to claim his third men's downhill gold medal, young gun Troy Brosnan taking out the men's junior downhill and Jared Graves collecting silver in the men's four cross final.

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