2012 London Olympian Caroline Buchanan has announced that she will be returning to the Australian mountain bike scene in 2013 after three years away from the sport.
"I am really hungry to keep pushing myself so my goals for next year are to race more mountain bikes and downhill," said Buchanan, the 2012 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup champion.
"I raced downhill when I was a junior, but I usually only focused on the four cross. But because the 4X doesn't have a World Cup circuit anymore, I want to see how far I can go in downhill," she said.
Buchanan was the first entrant into the Cycling Australia & Mountain Bike Australia's 2013 National Gravity Cup Series for rounds one and two in Mt Buller and Thredbo respectively. The Australian Mountain Bike National Series will kick off in Mt. Buller, Victoria on January 18-20. Subsequent stops will be in Thredbo, NSW on February 8-10 and Bright, Victoria on March 15-17.
Buchanan won the four cross world championship in her hometown of Canberra in 2009 and successfully defended the title in 2010 in Canada. Although shortly after this success and while at the top of the sport, Buchanan "hung up" the mountain bike to focus solely on her 2012 London Olympic BMX campaign.
In London, Buchanan qualified fastest and dominated the early BMX rounds, however after a poor start in the final meant she had to settle for fifth behind Colombian Mariana Pujon.
Following that disappointment, Buchanan set her sights on gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but in the interim, the 22-year-old will be looking to qualify for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
"I want to do well in the downhill in 2013," Buchanan said. "I'm looking for a good performance in Canberra at the nationals and then hopefully qualify for the world championships.
"South Africa has a long, 'pedally' track and is more my style with the jumps, so I think it would be a reasonable aim for me to have a good crack at that," she said.
Buchanan admitted the change in scenery was needed after a gruelling Olympic campaign.
"MTB is a completely different atmosphere than BMX, as in BMX, everything was towards the Olympics and there was a lot of pressure to qualify for the next round or to make selection," Buchanan said.
"I am someone that loves pressure and can perform well under pressure, but I also burn out pretty easily.
"I think I need new challenges to keep things fresh and exciting. Straight after the Olympics I spent some time in Whistler riding my downhill bike, and I loved it," she said.
However, it is not all despair for BMX fans, as they will be able to see Buchanan compete in the American Pro Season which runs from March to December.
"My long term goal is that I want to dominate all forms of cycling," Buchanan said.
Buchanan is also expected to race the 2013 Australian Mountain Bike Championships on February 19-24 in Canberra, ACT.