The final details are being put into place for the 2010 Mountains To Beach stage race with the organizers out this week signing the first few stages of the near 400km of an intricate route through the bush of south eastern NSW, Australia. The racing will begin on Monday, March 1.
Jason English, defending Mountains To Beach champion and World 24-hour solo champion, has been musing on his chances for the 2010 event. "The Mountains To Beach was my favourite event last year with its awesome combination of short, fast race stages and long marathon stages - all with the backdrop of stunning landscapes - except for the Ay Up Dawn Raid raced in the dark, when all you could see was the track lit up in front of you."
"Last year I was riding as part a team who helped me throughout the week, and I also had the full support of Dirt Works and my wife Jen to keep bike and body going. This year I'm racing as an individual."
All of last year's top five riders will return for this year's edition. Andy Blair, pumped after his World Championship and World Cup racing, is keen to avenge the 20 seconds he got beat by in 2009 after five days of racing.
"I can't wait for the start," said Blair. "After losing the race on the final stage last year I am hoping that I can go one better this year. The course changes from last year will probably favour the enduro men, but I have had a very good preparation this year and should be a bit fresher on the start line in Thredbo. I think tactics will once again play a huge part in the race, with allies an important factor for a good result on the two long, decisive stages."
Other favorites, Nick Menager and Dennis Van Mil, are always threats in long races.
English is using his experience from last year. "I'll be riding a brand new bike. Last year I broke a chain on one stage, got a little lost on another. In 2010, I'll run heavier tires and try and limit any chance of a mechanical and will be watching the signage more carefully!"
"It's great to be back in Thredbo for the 2010 race," said Event Director Huw Kingston of organizer Wild Horizons. "The whole route is looking spectacular, with everything so verdant after the February deluges. Mind you the 600mm of rain received on the Far South Coast of NSW has made some of our final coastal race stages a little more interesting. We've told riders to pack their water wings and snorkels."
Riders will take the chairlift from Thredbo to the start on the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko and will finish with a beach sprint across the sands at Narooma some 2,000 metres lower and 400km in distance on Friday, March 5.
The event consists of six timed race stages and four untimed cruise stages and covers all types of terrain from downhill runs, snow plains, high country and lush rainforest. Riders will finish with a run up the coastline, crossing rivers and creeks swollen from recent torrential rains and negotiating sandbars which weren't there a week ago.
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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.