Racing: Atherton preparing for XC Marathon Rumble, This ANZAC Day.

Words by MTBA | Images by MTBA, Tim Bardsley-Smith, Damian Breach

The Australian endurance mountain bike community is set to descend on the Atherton Tablelands, 90 minutes west of Cairns, for the fourth round of the Real Insurance Cross Country Marathon (XCM) Series this ANZAC day.

The Tablelands Classic will act as a curtain raiser to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Cairns, attracting a healthy mix Australia’s elite and amateur mountain bikers to tackle the inaugural event on April 25.

smallttnq_athertonpd_66 Feature_Flow_Nation_Atherton-62 Feature_Flow_Nation_Atherton-33 Atherton Waterfall track

The venue, which hosted the Australian Championships in 2013, will once again feature on the national calendar following a significant upgrade to the trails in the region.

“The course is a 22 kilometre loop with approximately 520 metres of climbing and will consist of single track and fire roads with some great descending trails,” explained Tableland Cycle Sports president, Mark Knowles. “The majority of the trails in the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park have been built by World Trails to a world class standard [but] this years course is much easier than the Australian Marathon Championships course we held here in 2013.”

Full marathon entrants will tackle the course three times totalling 66 kilometres of adventure while the half marathon takes riders around the course twice, equalling 44 kilometres.

“Atherton is a special place to race because the trails are only a kilometre and a half from the town,” said Knowles. “The surrounding scenery and tourist attractions make Atherton an ideal holiday destination for families who want to ride their bikes either in the bush or on the roads.”

Reigning XCM national champion Jenni King (Team TORQ) recently tested the trails in Atherton and said the race will be a ‘survival of the fittest’.

“It’s a reward in itself just getting through an event like this,” said King. “The rolling hills and the landscape are totally different from a lot of other places in Australia and it’s part of what will make this event so great.”

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup begins in Cairns on Friday, April 25, with men and women’s downhill qualifying and fast and furious cross country eliminator (XCE) finals.

Saturday, April 26, will see the downhill (DHI) finals before the World Cup concludes with cross country Olympic (XCO) racing on Sunday, April 27.

The “Rumble in the Rainforest” is set to attract thousands of visitors to the region as the second round of the 2014 UCI World Cup unfolds in the scenic Smithfield Mountain Bike Park.

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