YESTERDAY, a Malaysian rider fractured her collarbone while practicing at the mountains of Danao City—the venue for this weekend’s Asean Mountainbike Cup which kicks off tomorrow until Sunday.

Another rider from Ormoc, a masters category paricipant also injured himself practicing at the course.

These go out to show how challenging the route will be for the more than 300 foreign and local participants.

“The routes are very punishing. The riders should be strong-willed and determined. It will be a hard, and physically demanding race,” said UCI Commissaire Geofrrey Kronenberg.

The event is the first leg of the Asean MTB Cup and will test the mettle of some 300 foreign and local pedal-pushers.

With 73 foreign riders confirmed and more than 200 locals enlisted, MTB Cup goes down as one of the biggest mountain bike events in the country this year.

Kronenberg of Malaysia said that international standard will be followed for the race.

“The Asean MTB Cup is in accordance with the UCI, riders will get the feel of a World Cup or a World Championships,” Kronenberg told reporters yesterday during the final press conference at the Casino Español.

The Asean MTB Cup has two mountain bike disciplines—the Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) and Downhill Individual (DHI).

The XCO riders have to go through the 4.2-kilometer race track, while the DHI is all set with 2K route. In both races, the Asian Games and World Cup standards will be followed. Timing chips and photo finish will also be used.

The Philippine team will try to protect home floor behind Niño Surban, who joined the RP team after snatching the gold in the men’s elite of the Philippine National Games last May. March Aleonar and Alvin Benosa will be racing in the cross-country event as well.

The women’s national team have Avegail Rombaon and triathlete turned mountain biker Mellisa Jane Jaroda in the cross-country women’s elite.

Joey Barba, the 2007 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, races in the downhill alongside Eleazar Barba.