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English returns to defend title at 24-hour Worlds

For the first time since its inception in 1999, the 24 Hours of Adrenalin Solo World Championships will happen outside of North America. It's set for this weekend, October 9-10 in Australia. 411 solo athletes and 15 countries will be represented while another 2,300 racers will participate in the 24-hour racing this weekend as part of teams.

This weekend's 24-hour solo championship is being run in conjunction with CORC's Scott Australian 24-Hour Mountain Bike Championships, now the largest of any 24-hour race in the world.

The Canberra Off Road Cycling (CORC) group is running the event at Mt. Stromlo Park in Canberra, which is the venue that hosted the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

All competitors - team and solo - will be racing at the same time; however, solo riders will be riding a completely separate course than the team riders. The courses, which are marked with different colored arrows, come together under the start finish each lap. Solo racers will do 20km laps. The open character of the course means the lone racers will be able to see their competition for much of each lap.

Eszter Horanyi, 2009 US 24-hour solo national champion, is one of the favorite international riders in the women's race. She'll be challenged by British national champion Rickie Cotter and Italian national champion Anna Mei. Australian national champion Jessica Douglas will be looking for a win on home soil. Last year's winner, Rebecca Rusch, will be absent.

In the men's contest, British national champion Matt Page, Canadian national champion Cory Wallace and Australian national champion Jason English are the favorite riders to watch along with Thomas Widhalm, the winner of Europe's largest 24-hour event.

Sadly, the race will be run without James Williamson, who passed away in his sleep while at the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race this spring. Williamson won the 24-hour solo mountain bike world championships in Canmore in Canada in 2008.

The United Kingdom has 21 riders taking part, making it the largest overseas group in attendance. Perhaps the United States would have sent more riders, but its 24-hour national championship is also happening this weekend in conjunction with the 24 Hours of Moab in Utah.

Plans are underway for the 2011 24 Hours of Adrenalin Solo World Championships to be held in either the United Kingdom or Europe.  The 24 hour world championships are not sanctioned by the UCI.

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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.