When riders line up on the start line for the final round of the 2018 Winter MTB Series on Sunday, they will be marking the end of an era.

The series is in the 17th and final year of its current format, with organiser Nduro Events shaking things up next year by introducing the Rotorua Winter Forest Festival in its place, a celebration of the forest featuring running and mountain biking events.

Nduro Events director Tim Farmer said about 500 people had signed up for this weekend's event.

"It's not over, we're just reformatting what we do and we're looking forward to it. We can put a lot more into one event than we can into a series. We can consolidate what we do, give a better experience and there's not so much wear and tear on the trails either."

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Whanganui's Glen Haden sits in first place in the Long Course overall standings with 340 points, after winning round two. He is closely followed by defending champion Cosmo Bloor (320) and Max Taylor (300).

Glenn Haden leads overall in the Winter MTB Series Long Course standings. Photo / File
Glenn Haden leads overall in the Winter MTB Series Long Course standings. Photo / File

The defending champion of the women's Long Course overall title Josie Wilcox, of Palmerston North, looked on track for more success when she blitzed the competition to take first place in round one. However, an accidental wrong turn in round two saw her disqualified and unable to collect any points from the race.

Wilcox sits in fifth with 200 points. Leading the women's standings is Rotorua's Mary Gray on 380 points, followed by Sarah Haddon (340). The title is Gray's to lose, but with 200 points up for grabs for the winner on Sunday, anything is possible.

"It's been really interesting this year, a few rider errors have made it interesting as well.

"It's attracting a lot more competition, with riders coming from all over.

"There's about 10 riders who aren't here, because they're at the world champs, but if you look at the calibre of riders we're getting it's a real testament to New Zealand mountain biking and the quality of events and challenges that Rotorua has," Farmer said.

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Racing starts from 9.15am on Sunday at the Waipa mountain bike car park.

Winter MTB Series Long Course Standings
Male Overall
Glenn Haden, 340 points
Cosmo Bloor, 320 points
Max Taylor, 300 points
Brad Jones, 280 points
Caleb Bottcher, 240 points

Female Overall
Mary Gray, 380 points
Sarah Haddon, 340 points
Lydia Hale, 260 points
Kim Sutherland, 210 points
Josie Wilcox, 200 points