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World Champions to line up at Otway Odyssey

A stellar field featuring current and past World Champions, Olympic medalists and Australian title holders will race for glory in the Otway Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon on February 20, between Apollo Bay and Forrest, two hours southwest of Melbourne. In its fourth year, the event has grown to be the largest mountain bike event in Victoria and second largest in Australia. The popular event sold out before Christmas with 1,750 competitors tackling the 100km, 50km Shorty and 15km Pioneer races.

This year's edition draws its strongest-ever field, ranging from sprinters to 24-hour mountain bike racers. The men to watch are reigning 24-hour solo World Champion Jason English, former 24-hour solo World Champions James Williamson and Craig Gordon, five-time cross country national champion Sid Taberlay, 2007 Otway Odyssey race winner Murray Spink and numerous others who could knock them off including Dan McConnell, Shaun Lewis, Locky Norris, Adrian Jackson, Ben Hogarth, Paul van der Ploeg, Matthew Fleming and Troy Glennen.

Phil Anderson, the cycling legend who put Australia on the map with his Tour de France feats is a regular at this race in the veteran category. No doubt he'll be nipping at the heels of the elite men reminding them that age is no barrier.

The women's field is equally as strong with 2009 winner Katherine O'Shea will be going head to head with 2007 winner Tory Thomas and two-time Australian cross country national champion Rowena Fry. Judith Ardnt, HTC-Columbia team member and German Olympic medalist in both the road race and individual pursuit will also be a force. Forrest local Jessica Douglas, Terri Rhodes, Naomi Hanson, Jodie Willett, Joanna Wall, Jo King and Jenni King are also featuring heavily in the betting ring.

Racers are coming from all over Australia. They will be rewarded for tough hill climbs with beautiful views over the Great Ocean Road and rainforest of the well built and maintained tracks of the Otway Ranges.

Other non-pro mountain and road bikers on the start list include Ironman triathlete David McCormack in his first mountain bike race and fellow triathletes Sean Bruce, Terry Donges and Brendan King and adventure racer Thomas Blumson-Thiele. Mountain runner Aaron Knight and professional motorcross rider Justin Carafa are both doing the event for pre-race fitness.

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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.