Australian mountain biking stalwart Sid Taberlay expects to have a fight on his hands as he attempts to claim the Wildside MTB crown for a fifth time.
Taberlay won both stages on the opening day of competition from Australia's newly-crowned national champion Daniel McConnell with just three seconds separating the pair after 36 kilomtres of racing.
Both raced side-by-side on the tricky downhill run to the finish line at Que River with Taberlay relying on his vast experience in edging out McConnell.
"I got away on the second downhill and had a bit of gap," said Taberlay after the first day of racing. "It was a really fast finish tail wind and I was struggling as I've only got a 42 chain ring so I didn't quite have enough gears.
"Dan had a bit bigger gears and kind of brought it back on the flats and it was side-by-side into the downhill and into the corner," he added.
"It's probably going to come down to who has the better luck - that's the dynamics of the sport. I just have to mark him and we'll see what happens."
A 2008 Olympian, McConnell's tactics were to cling as closely as possible to Taberlay's wheel through Tasmania's picturesque rainforest in a bid not to lose valuable time from his experienced rival.
The women's open section is also a keenly contested affair with Canberra's Heather Logie involved in a minor pile-up before storming back to overtake pre-race favourite Rowena Fry.
"I actually had a crash earlier on so I lost her tail and then she was out of sight but managed to catch up with a group of male riders which I'm happy about," said Logie, who started racing mountain bikes only six months ago.
Held in cold and misty conditions for the race start near the World Heritage listed area near Cradle Mountain, Wildside MTB has attracted a record field of 450 competitors from all over Australia and many parts of the world.
Crashes were a feature on stage two, much of which was raced on a single-track course.
Taberlay finished the opening stage just five seconds short of his own course record, with McConnell breathing down the Tasmanian's neck all day.
He led McConnell to the finish line by one second while his gap after stage two was a slender two seconds.