As of today there is less than one week remaining until the first clip-in of the 2012 Real Insurance XCM Series. Round one of the six race series is the Wombat 100 in Woodend, Victoria. If you’ve been planning for a head start in 2012 XCM series then you’d best have those base km’s in your legs already, as it’s too late for last minute training.
The Wombat 100 will be the first ever event in the XCM series to take place outside of NSW/ACT, and entries have been flowing in at a rapid rate for the first round of Australia’s premier mountain bike race series. Entries are well spread over the various categories, and hits on the ‘Rankings’ section of the Cyclenation website are extremely high this week, indicating that everyone wants a refresher on how they fared last year and who they want to beat this year. It seems that the Real Insurance XCM Series is really hitting a chord with the inner competitor in all of us, not just those racing for the big prizes. If you haven’t entered the Wombat yet then move your cursor over to the right and get to it right immediately.
The Wombat will serve as the entre’ in what will be an intense first month of the 2012 Real Insurance XCM Series. Riders looking for maximum points, or maximum challenge, will back up the following Saturday for the Capital Punishment in Canberra, then again on the following weekend for the Convict 100 in Sydney. Three very different races in three weeks, in three states. Wow! If ever there was a chance to pick up points in the XCM Series then this is it. Those that are not fit now will have to hope and pray that they can find form for the rest of the series, as their best three results will count for their final standing!
A peak of form over the next three weeks could propel a well prepared rider into the three remaining races of the series with a big advantage, but it won’t be as simple as that. Only a complete mountain biker will be able to take full advantage of this concentrated three-race block. The Wombat 100 has a deceiving amount if climbing but the eventual winner will be the most fluid rider over the smooth and twisting singletrack of Wombat State Forest. Riders with maximum power are best suited to the terrain of the Capital Punishment, which features the least climbing of the first three races and plenty of open trails and paddocks for high speed riding in the big ring. The Convict 100 also suits a powerful rider as there is little pure singletrack, but the brutally rough and technical nature of the Old Convict Road section of the course can split the field apart in only a handful of kilometres and technically confident riders will have a clear advantage.
The Mens Elite field for the Wombat features the typically strong Rockstar Racing team of defending Real Insurance XCM Series champion Dylan Cooper. DC will be supported (rivalled?) by teammate Shaun Lewis. Other big names returning from last year’s series include Andy Blair as well as Ben Mather from Tasmania. The Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team has a solid line up with Nick Both, Graeme Arnott and Tate Dogan. Perhaps the most noteworthy feature will be the contingent of XCM Series newcomers, led by Andy Fellows and Adrian Jackson, two of the biggest names in Australian marathon racing. Andy will travel all the way from the Sunshine Coast just to score XCM points, and AJ needs no introduction as one of the hardest and strongest riders around.
As strong as the men’s field is, the women’s field is truly stacked. Defending Real Insurance XCM Series champion Jenny Fay will have to fight to the death to defend her purple Real Insurance leaders jersey from 2011. Jenny was almost untouchable in 2011, but the quality of the Wombat field is as good as it gets. Jenny will line up alongside Becky Mates, Jessica Douglas, Peta Mullens, Claire Stevens and Tory Thomas to name just a few of her well-credentialed rivals. It’s a field worthy of an Australian National Championship race.
With so many of the big guns ready to kick off 2012 with a bang and with so much on the line in an intense three week block it’s just too hard to name a favourite, or even a top five. Three races in three weeks on three different courses in three different states. How good is this series going to be! Bring on the racing!