• Julien Absalon finished fourth at the the Rio test event in October, 2015 (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Julien Absalon (BMC), one of the most decorated and respected riders on the cross-country circuit, announced last year that he plans to retire after Rio where he hopes to win a third Olympic gold medal.
Cycling Central

Cycling Australia
23 Apr 2016 - 10:56 AM  UPDATED 23 Apr 2016 - 11:12 AM

While there are plenty superlatives to use to describe his achievements on the bike, the Frenchman takes it all in his stride and, at present, he has no time to look back, only forward.

A man of average height and lean build, Absalon turns heads as he walks through the Cairns UCI MTB World Cup event village. His presence defies his physical structure.

For the two-time gold medal winning Olympian, opening his season with a victory in Australia is the most pressing thing on his mind.

Cairns UCI MTB World Cup Preview
In less then 24 hours the Mountain Bike World Cup competition will begin in Cairns, Australia, for Round 2 of the Downhill and the opening round of the Cross-country.

“It’s a nice memory, I won here when I was wearing the World Cup leader’s jersey,” Absalon said.

Absalon will contest the elite men’s cross country final at the 2016 UCI MTB World Cup on Sunday from 2.20pm.

One of the biggest threats to Abalson’s plans of repeating his 2014 victory in Tropical North Queensland is great rival and reigning world champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo).

The duo has shared the spoils at the past four World Cups with Schurter claiming the world champion rainbow jersey in Spain in September. And the five-time former winner wants it back.

“The rainbow jersey is the most beautiful jersey to wear,” replied the 36-year-old.

“It is a big honour (to wear the jersey), when you represent your sport you need to be always at the top and honour the sport.”

While most may see it as a battle of two, Absalon knows there are plenty of others in the elite men’s field who could cause an upset on Sunday, particularly with Rio 2016 Olympic Games selections a major motivation for many.

“Maxime Marott is in really good shape now he won last weekend in Italy also maybe (Marco) Fontana and (Manuel) Fumic,” Absalon said.

“We don’t know about (Daniel) McConnell ‘cause he wasn’t racing in Europe but he did some races here in Australia and maybe will do a great race at home.”

As for the key to taking top spot on the podium.

“To win you need to be good everywhere. Physically and technically.”

The 2016 UCI MTB World Cup will feature 330 riders from 32 nations contesting the downhill and cross-country events from April 22-24.

SBS will be broadcasting the Elite Women's world cup cross-country race on Sunday from 11:00am-1:00pm, and the Elite Men's race from 2:00-4:00pm on SBS2 and online. We will be broadcasting the downhill finals today (Saturday) from 2:30 to 4:30pm. (All times AEST.)

LIVE: UCI MTB World Cup - Cairns
The UCI MTB World Cup XCO will be live streamed Sunday 24 April here on Cycling Central from 11:00am to 4:00pm AEST and broadcast on SBS2.