We've just heard the shock news that Aussie shredder Tracey Hannah will not be taking part in this years World Cup series.

Her reasons being that she hasn't received the financial backing needed to make a serious attempt on the title. It does seem crazy that someone who finished 3rd overall in the World Cup and 3rd at the World Champs last year hasn't got full race support. Hopefully she'll get a deal sorted for next year.

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Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia

Here's what Tracey had to say about the whole deal:

I have written this press release to address all of the comments and questions I have been receiving regarding my decisions for the 2008 international racing season. I hope that this is something you will understand, and know that Mountain Bike racing is not over for me.

I have been riding bikes all my life, I did some BMX when I was younger, raced at the BMX Nationals when I was 4½ and started downhill mountain biking when I was about 12. My brother raced, so of course, I wanted to race as well. I thought the world of him, and anything he could do I wanted to do. He has such a natural style on the bike and a great technique. It is hard to get into bad habits with him around.

So from a young age I was learning so much that it made riding downhill, smooth and fast come naturally. Ever since I started I have always wanted to be riding, and working harder to get faster. When I was 14, I raced my first MTB National Championships. I finished with a 2nd place in Elite Women. From that year on I have been National Champion 5 times.

In 2004 I headed over to the USA to race my first international series. I ended up 5th overall in the US NORBA series. The next year I had to stay home, we couldn’t fund 2 years in a row of overseas racing and the sponsors didn’t offer the support that I needed. I spent that time at home riding all year and racing the Australian National Series and the Australian Championships.

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Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia

In 2006 I went back to America and won the US National NORBA series. I attended the World Championships in New Zealand as a junior, and took home the gold medal and those rainbow bands I can wear for the rest of my life.

2007 was my first year racing Elite, and my first year on the World Cup circuit. I ended up, 1st at the forth round of the World Cup series in Schladming Austria, 3rd overall in the World Cup Series, 3rd at the World championships in Fort William, and am currently the Australian National Champion. This year I have decided not to attend the World Cup Series.

Lately I have been asked a lot of questions about the up and coming season. My answer seems to raise some concern about my decision to not attend the World Cup Series this year. To clear up some things I want to make it clear, it is not because I do not love riding. I am not quitting. I am not finished with this sport.

I arrived home from the 2007 racing season in September, with a large credit card bill and with perhaps the false expectation that after doing as well as I did I would be getting a better deal from sponsors. A deal that might cover my living expenses whilst I train 100% and also I would be able to service the debt I have accumulated over the past years. This didn't happen.

To the people that are working every day, and struggling to pay for bikes and gear and just want to ride, the offers I have received are awesome. To most people, I would be considered so lucky. I have had offers of all expenses paid to race World Cups, gear, bikes, accommodation, training facilities, etc. That’s great! But it still costs me to race and I have less than no money.

I have made the difficult decision to not travel this season because I am a professional. I want to be the best and if every effort is not getting put toward that then I must refuse these great offers. At the moment that is how it is, the sponsorship and support that is getting offered to female mountain bikers is less than what I need to be competitive.

There is not the support for the hard work and time spent training in the off-season. I am at home working everyday still paying off my credit card bill from racing overseas last season. Whilst still putting every effort, and time, that I have into training. It isn’t working. Going at it like this is going half hearted. If I am racing at a World Class level then I must put every effort into working hard toward the top, because there is no time to waste when competing in a high class.

To be the best in the world is a full time job. I don’t want to go back overseas and come home with a second place knowing that I could have done more toward being number one. To race to my full and best potential it takes professionalism.

I am taking this year off from racing but not from trying to improve as a professional bike rider. I am planning to do a Business Marketing course to learn how to sell brand “Tracey Hannah” thus making me a better prospect to potential sponsors. I am continuing to put a lot of effort into training and working to pay my bills.

Athletes need the funds to support themselves in the off-season, just like it would be a job. We are a talent that people like watching, because not everyone has it. It’s amazing to see any sportsman performing to their best having trained hard and using the talent they have. I want to be overseas racing having put all my effort and hard work into being number one. I want to train and race to my full and best potential, and at this time it is not possible.

Tracey Hannah

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