Up until yesterday morning, the smart money was on Ethan Glover for this year's Santa Cruz Coppermine mountainbike title.
Glover, who finished second last year, looks to be the clear favourite for Saturday's race.
In the last few years, Glover has developed from a fast local rider, to a nationally recognised mountainbiker. His 2012 wins at the Queenstown 6 hour Super-D and in the local Nelson Super-D races shows that he has the skills as well as the fitness.
Living close to the Dun Mountain walkway means he knows the Coppermine course like the back of his hand.
Rumours are that international pro road racers George Bennett and Kieran Hambrook, both from hometown Nelson, will be dusting off their Santa Cruz mountainbikes and entering.
Even without these pro road racers, Glover will still have a battle on his hands. Previous winners Robin Reid and Dayle McLauchlan have signed up, as well as an emerging young local rider, Henry Jaine.
Also in the running are the very fit and fast skilled master riders, Andy Reid and Kurt Lancaster. Lancaster won the last two master national DH races last month.
The women's field is equally strong and the battle looks like it will be between 2012 winner Kim Hurst and 2011 winner Meg Bichard, who still holds the title for the fastest time for the course and has local knowledge of the challenging course.
Hannah Thorne is back this year too and will be looking to improve on her third placing. Another racer new to the Coppermine is Erin Greene. Both Thorne and Greene prefer longer endurance races, but have been known to pull out good results on shorter races.
Saturday's weather forecast is for a hot 23 degrees Celsius, so pretty much, same as usual for this event.
Spectators and supporters are encouraged to come along and watch. The start and finish area is 2km up the Maitai Valley just before the Waahi Taakaro Golf Club. There will be coffee, gourmet seafood, massage, and sponsors' tents at the start and finish area. Race start is 9.30am and the first riders are expected at the finish line about 11.30am.
Entries are still open online, no entries available on the day. More information is available at www.coppermine.co.nz.
- The Nelson Mail