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This coming weekend sees the unofficial season opener for the North American mountain bike race season, the Sea Otter Classic.

Although the race is not high on the priority for the teams, it’ll be a good chance to see who’s up to speed for the upcoming World Cup season.

20 year old Brendan Fairclough (UK) joins 4 time World Champion Sam Hill (AUS), to form an all male line up contesting the full World Cup series as well as other key events throughout the season.

The team will get into Monterey Tuesday night and be on site from Wednesday, stretching legs on a XC ride after the long haul flights from London and Perth. Both riders will compete in the Downhill and Dual Slalom, and use the events as an opportunity to check out the 2008 bikes and set-up in race conditions. The event is mainly used by the team to launch the new gear, rider clothing and of course to interact with the fans. The actual Downhill race is not high on the list of target races for the season, but a good opportunity for early season press images and to put on a show for the race fans.

Sam Hill: “Haven’t been doing a huge amount of DH racing or riding in the off season, just trying to keep things fresh for the international season. I had a pretty solid off-season training schedule though, riding XC, riding and racing motocross. I just started doing a little bit of DH recently… I’m pretty motivated about this coming season, and I’d like to start off in Maribor right where I left off in Maribor at the finals last year.”

Brendan Fairclough: “I haven’t been to Sea Otter before so I’m keen to see what’s going on, and to be at our first event as a team. My goals are for a bit later in the season, but it will be a good hit out either way. Really happy with the new bike, and after my first couple of races on it, I’ve got a good feeling about season ’08”.

Team Monster Energy Manager Sean Heimdal: “Looking forward to getting Sam and Brendan together and getting a race under our belts. The results aren’t a high priority for us here…a good result would just be a bonus. It’s awesome for the crowd if the riders want to throw some whips in their DH race runs and get some great photos! We’ll be doing a product test/set-ups in the days leading into the event at undisclosed locations…so people may stumble across the team training at a trail near them in SoCal!”

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