The 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup heads down under to Cairns with a number of British riders racing in both the cross-country and downhill events.
It’s the world cup season opener for the cross-country riders, with valuable Olympic qualifying points up for grabs.
Meanwhile it’s the second round of the downhill competition, following a British 1-2-3 in the women’s event at Lourdes earlier this month.
Two British riders will take to the iconic Smithfield course in Cairns in search of points in their bid to qualify for this summer’s Olympics.
Only the top 23 nations qualify for Rio with Great Britain currently in 27th place in the men’s rankings.
Grant Ferguson and Phil Pearce know that strong performances over the tropical course could lift Great Britain in the Olympic qualification rankings.
British champion Ferguson, 23, makes the step up to the elite level having won bronze in the under-23 men’s race at the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
Brentjens Mountainbike Racing Team’s Ferguson is in good form, having taken the win at the opening round of the British Cycling MTB Cross-country Series in Wales last month, with Pearce also securing a top-five finish.
Racing takes place on Sunday.
It was the perfect start for Great Britain’s women’s downhill riders as they took all three podium places at the world cup season opener in France.
World champion and reigning world cup winner Rachel Atherton (Trek Factory Racing) took the victory at Lourdes, with fellow Brits Tahnee Seagrave (Transition Factory Racing DH) and Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen Factory Team) finishing in second and third place respectively.
It was Atherton’s 27th world cup win in her career and she starts in Australia as the red-hot favourite, having already picked up a world cup win in Cairns two years ago.
In the men’s downhill competition, four British riders finished in the top ten in France. Danny Hart (MS Mondraker Team) was pick of the bunch in third place, with Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate), Gee Atherton (Trek Factory Racing DH) and Brendan Fairclough (Gstaad-Scott) also starting the season well.
Qualifying takes place on Friday with the finals on Saturday.
How to follow
- Watch the downhill finals live on Red Bull TV from 5.30am on Saturday.
- Watch the elite men’s cross-country race Red Bull TV from 5am on Sunday.
- Updates will appear on Twitter @BritishCycling
- Report will appear on British Cycling website