Rotorua will be graced by mountain biking royalty in October.
Cross-country mountain biking world champion Jolanda Neff has signed up to race in the Whaka100 mountain bike marathon on October 21.
Boasting an incredible record of wins around the world, including being the youngest World Cup winner and two time European Champion, 25-year-old Neff, from Switzerland, also has a massive social media following with 187,000 followers on Instagram.
Whaka100 race director Tim Farmer, said the event team was excited to have Neff on the start list as it would be the first time she raced a marathon mountain bike race in New Zealand.
"This is great for the event but even more amazing for the fans of Neff who will get to see her race in person - we're expecting a tough battle between her and Kiwi Josie Wilcox on the day. It's also great exposure for New Zealand mountain biking as Jolanda has a huge following internationally."
The Whaka100 has long been regarded as one of the Southern Hemisphere's toughest mountain bike marathons. The 105km, 50km and 25km courses take in the world class mountain bike trails of Rotorua and the event runs from October 20-21.
Entries are coming in from all over the world with 11 countries represented. While New Zealand has the largest representation, Australia, New Caledonia and Singapore riders top the list from offshore.
Farmer said the event was not just about the gruelling 100km race.
"We cater for all levels of rider with a packed schedule of events including the Rotorua Isuzu Shootout Time Trial, 5.5km kids ride, 25km, 50km, 100km (relay, pairs, individual), King of the Mountain, plus live music, an expo and demo rides."
The last rider to cross the Whaka100 finish line in 2017, Alex Disher, said he did not train as much as he would have liked last year as a result of moving cities.
He finished with less than five minutes to go before the 11-hour cut off. Despite being the slowest rider last year, he was the first to sign up for the 2018 event when entries opened, and he can't wait to do it again.
"Everyone at the finish line went crazy when I got there and it was the most amazing welcome. The feeling was incredible, despite the odds being fairly well stacked against me, I managed to succeed and had an epic day in the saddle," Disher said.
In 2018, Whaka100 has teamed up with TEAM CP to allow riders to train specifically for the 100km, 50km or 25km events in a structured 12 or six week programme which is free to download online. This helps riders understand the best way to prepare for the event.
This 12th edition of the Whaka100 has a cash prize pool of more than $5100 along with $20,000 in giveaways, 237 sought-after podium medals and 1000 finishers' medals.
Jolanda Neff, born January 5, 1993, is a Swiss cross-country cyclist who also competes on the road for Servetto Footon. She was the overall winner of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in 2014 and 2015. She was triple Under-23 Mountain Bike World Champion (2012, 2013 and 2014).
At the 2017 UCI World Championships in Cairns she became the elite world champion. In June 2015, she won the first gold medal for Switzerland in the women's cross country event at the 2015 European Games in Baku. Later the same month, she went on to win the Swiss National Road Race Championships.
Neff won the Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship in 2016 and Mountain Bike XCO World Championship in 2017. She also won the European Mountain Bike Championships in August 2018 at Cathkin Braes in Scotland.