Olympic champion Maris Strombergs is bidding for a second consecutive world title in the BMX World Championships in Adelaide, Australia this weekend.
While the 22-year-old Latvian is favourite for the men's elite event on Sunday, the women's event is wide open following the injury withdrawal of British two-time world champion Shanaze Reade.
Strombergs, who became the first men's Olympic champion when the BMX sport was introduced at last year's Beijing Games, is expected to be challenged by Americans Mike Day and Donny Robinson.
Gold medalist Maris Strombergs of Latvia (C), silver medalist Mike Day (USA) and bronze medalist Donny Robinson (USA) at the Laoshan Bicycle Moto Cross Venue at the Beijing 2008 Olympics
Day finished with the silver medal in Beijing and Robinson captured the bronze.
"Maris Strombergs is the man to beat," UCI BMX Sports coordinator Johan Lindstrom said. "He has shown great consistency throughout the season and wants to keep that jersey for another year."
Strombergs, who has been racing since he was five years old, first became world champion when he won in Taiyuan, China, in May last year.
The women's podium is open after reigning world champion Reade injured her right shoulder in a training mishap last May, requiring surgery.
Laetitia Le Corguille of France
Olympic silver medallist Laetitia Le Corguille of France, New Zealand's world bronze medallist Sarah Walker, Canada's top rider Samantha Cools and French rider Eva Ailloud are expected to fight it out for the women's world title.
Le Corguille, who turns 23 next week, finished in a French one-two behind Anne-Caroline Chausson in a crash-marred Olympic final at Beijing.
The competition will be staged on a 310-metre indoor track at the Adelaide Showground.
© 2009 AFP & BikeRadar