Elite mountain bike race to showcase state

Launceston cyclists Jody Bush and Ben Mather will compete in the Pure Tasmania Wildside MTB later this month. WORLD-CLASS wilderness will set the scene for Australia's top cross-country mountain bike stage race later this month.

Pure Tasmania Wildside MTB, launched yesterday at Country Club Tasmania, will see 450 riders race from Cradle Mountain Chateau to Strahan Village on January 25.

Tasmanian-born Sid Taberlay is the favourite to win the four-day race, while the women's event is leading to a three-way battle between Victoria's Jenni King, current Marathon MTB champion Emma Coulson and Launceston's Rowena Fry.

Tasmanian multi-sport athlete Ben Mather is a likely challenger to Taberlay's five-year streak.

Mather said the event was part of every elite mountain bike rider's calendar.

``If I'm on the podium, I'll be happy this year,'' he said.

Riders compete in seven competition stages linked by three cruising stages through the 200-kilometre ride.

Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Brian Wightman said Tasmania could pitch itself as the nation's adventure capital.

``There's a hell of a lot of Tasmania that can be experienced and those parks allow that,'' Mr Wightman said.

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