World champion red-hot favorite after securing wins left, Wright and centre

THE CHAMP IS HERE: Queensland's Cameron Wright, the reigning world champion, is returning to Orange's Kinross State Forest this weekend as a red-hot favourite. Photo: ELEMENT PHOTO
THE CHAMP IS HERE: Queensland's Cameron Wright, the reigning world champion, is returning to Orange's Kinross State Forest this weekend as a red-hot favourite. Photo: ELEMENT PHOTO

Can anyone beat Queensland’s Cameron Wright at this weekend’s Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) National Series double-header at Orange?

Considering his success in the last 12 months – and beyond that, actually – you’d be forgiven for thinking the answer to that is no.

In the last 12 months alone, Wright has won last summer’s junior men’s series undefeated, claimed Queensland’s state title, won the Australian trophy and most notably, in what he labelled “a very special day”, sealed his maiden world championship.

Based on that, the South African-born 18-year-old has a right to confidence, especially two of those wins in last year’s series came at Kinross State Forest.

“I guess you could say that but I don’t really know what I’ve got in my legs at the moment, I haven’t really had much of a ride since the state championship in September,” he said.

“I’m expecting this year’s (Orange leg) to be a lot tougher than last year too, with some of the guys coming that are no second-year juniors like me.

“(NSW state champion) Matt Dinham is one, and there’s a lot of other quality riders coming so I guess we’ll see how we go once we get out there.”

Wright blitzed Kinross State Forest’s pristine singletrack last year, winning the first round by 12 seconds and the second by 34.

Dinham was the next best in both Orange rounds last summer, also finishing second behind Wright in both rides at Armidale as well.

The track has been altered slightly leading into this weekend, so while both are familiar with the conditions there could be a few surprises.

CONTENDER: NSW state champion Matt Dinham, pictured in last year's Orange leg, looks to be the biggest competition for world champion Cameron Wright. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

CONTENDER: NSW state champion Matt Dinham, pictured in last year's Orange leg, looks to be the biggest competition for world champion Cameron Wright. Photo: MATT FINDLAY

“The track was great last year, it had a little bit of everything and it was great fun to ride too,” Wright said.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on it again, I love coming out to these events.”

On the world championship win at Cairns in September, the 18-year-old said no matter how well he’d prepared it would’ve always come as a shock. His win was the first by an Australian in the junior division too.

“It was a very special day,” Wright said.

“My coach and I had spoken about it and we would’ve been happy with a top 10 finish so to win was a big surprise.”

Orange’s Matthew Blanch has been riding well recently, and looks to be the best of the local hopes across all divisions of this weekend’s leg.

The junior women’s races will potentially be a battle between Teagan Atherstone and Courtney Snowball, who came fourth and fifth in the series last year, respectively.

Neither rode in Orange last year, but both finished fast in the remaining four rounds.