Our reader-turned-reporter Lee Miller took the long flight from covering Crankworx for us, to get himself to Cairns for the 2017 UCI Downhill World Champs.

Watch out Cairns, the Brits are coming! It’s been a long 21 years since the worlds best battled it out in the tropical jungle of North Queensland, Australia for the coveted rainbow stripes.

Not a bad view from up near the start hut here in Cairns!

Back then, the French took both the Men and Women’s elite titles but fast forward 20 years to last years World Champs in Val Di Sole, Italy and it was us Brits that took home both rainbow jerseys with Danny Hart and Rachel Atherton taking the wins respectively.

This year team GB will be looking for a repeat performance with a strong squad in Elite Men, Women and Juniors although local rippers Mick and Tracey Hannah might have something to say about that. Throw in fellow Aussies Troy Brosnan, Jack Moir and Connor Fearon and it’s safe to say the home nation aren’t going to go down without a fight!

Track walk was an eye opener for the riders with the sheer level of loose dust laying on the track. If it rains here it’s going to be carnage.

The dust has only just settled, literally in the fight for the overall in both the men’s and women’s World Cups and after the tightest battle in years Greg Minnaar will surely be on a mission to avenge the cruel stroke of luck that saw him go from 1st to 3rd overall after Val Di Sole all but two weeks ago.

Team GB scope out the best lines ready for practice tomorrow.

Overall winner Aaron Gwin, now a 5 time World Cup champion has still yet to add the stripes to his jersey and World Champion of two years ago Loic Bruni was the winner on this course the last time we were here.

Laurie Greenland will be hoping to cross this finish line one place better than last year.

Fellow Frenchie Miriam Nicole will be looking to emulate the French double of ’96 and will be full of confidence after winning the Women’s overall World Cup for the first time this year. It’s sure going to be a cracking weekend of racing.

Matt Walker watches on as team manager Will Longden adds the custom decals to his race lid.

The track here in Cairns has one thing in common with the one the riders last faced a couple of weeks ago….dust! And lots of it! Less than a week out of winter the track here is absolutely bone dry, the thickness of the dust hiding the big roots and sharp rocks could quite easily be compared to the deep sand at the beach just a stones throw away from the finish line. It’s going to get loose.

Local girl Tracey Hannah waits patiently to get underway this morning.

With most of the teams and riders arriving a few days early to soak up the sun and enjoy the beaches we finally got riding underway this morning with the first day of practice for the Juniors and Elite Men and Women.

Madison Saracen put the finishing touches to Matt Walkers custom World Champs Myst.

The youngsters of Team GB make a stylish way down to the uplift for first practice.

Junior GB shredder Henry Kerr making light work of the loose conditions.

Most riders were just happy getting to grips with the tricky conditions on their first run…. apart from Kade Edwards!

Matt Walkers last ever race as a junior, can he finish the weekend with the Rainbow Jersey? Let’s hope so.

Finn Illes will be looking to hold on to jersey and aiming to leave the junior ranks as a double Junior World Champ.

3 World Cup wins this year for Tahnee Seagrave, can she top off her best ever year with another win here on Sunday?

Despite struggling this year with injury, and with a heavily strapped shoulder, current Women’s World Champion is never one you should discount turning up and dominating the field as she has done on so many occasions in her career.

During men’s practice everyone was looking to current Men’s World Champion Danny Hart for some guidance through the tricky rock section.

Gee Atherton knows how to win here and will be looking to add another rainbow jersey to his collection this weekend.

Yes Sam Hill is racing. Yes he’s racing his enduro bike.

Bernard Kerr making light work of Micks Drop. Mick Hannah… Not Mick Dundee as Sam Hill would have you believe.

About the closest to home all year for Kiwi Brook Macdonald. Clearly enjoying the sun on the jumps today.

Greg Williamson was looking fast today, studying each part of the track in depth with the help of the Team GB management.

Sik Mik will be like a man possessed come Sunday. Straight up to top speed on his local track leaving others scratching their heads.

Danny was putting some fast laps in this afternoon, the Redcar Rocket won’t want to give up the rainbow jersey without a fight.

last man down the hill today was Loic Bruni on his shiny Specialized, awash with telemetry gathering tech.

Not quite on Peatys level yet but Aaron Gwin won’t want to leave it much longer before he adds the World Champion title to his 5 overall World Cup titles.

Keep an eye out for more cracking World Championships coverage from our man Down Under here on Wideopenmag.

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