For a number of Australian riders, there’s more than just a podium appearance up for grabs at next weekend’s UCI MTB World Cup in Cairns, Queensland.
With the Rio 2016 Olympics Games less than four months away, the World Cup provides an opportunity for riders to gain valuable qualification points for the Australian Olympic team for the cross-country mountain bike.
Australia is on track for two men’s selections for the August Games, from the maximum of three, with 2008 and 2012 Olympian Dan McConnell eager to secure a third team selection.
“The Olympics is something special and something that I would love to do again,” said McConnell
Cameron Ivory, Scott Bowden and Brendan Johnston are also vying for a seat on the plane to Rio for the elite men’s competition.
Ivory, who finished second to McConnell at the recent Australian Championships, understands the tough road ahead if he is to secure his maiden Olympic selection.
“I want to go as well as I can against the rest of the world in the World Cups, but I’ll also be mindful of where I am compared to the other Aussies such as Brendan and Dan,” said Ivory. “I think staying in the top two Australian’s throughout the first three World Cups is key, and will hopefully help me gain selection for Rio.
“I’ve been happy with how I’ve raced for the last two European seasons, so I aim to carry that form and consistency into this season.”
Tasmania’s rising star Bowden, 21, is also chasing selection, after a bronze medal in the recent Oceania MTB Championships with another piece in the elite men’s jigsaw puzzle being Johnston, who recently defended his marathon national title.
In the women’s event, Australia currently ranks 15th on the current UCI Olympic Qualification Rankings, qualifying for a single rider from the maximum of two, with reigning Oceania and Australian champion Rebecca Henderson aiming for her second Olympic selection.
“It’s very early in the selection process and I can only do my best and hope that I get the nod,” said Henderson.
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