Red Bull X-Fighters kicks off in Mexico

Just days before the opening event of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour 2010 in Mexico City, local hero Johan Nungaray (MEX) and FMX legend Ronnie Renner (USA) held a final warm-up session at the Central Ceremonial Otomi. On Friday the best FMX riders in the world perform at the first stop of the World Tour 2010 in the Monumental Plaza de Toros.

The riding conditions at the legendary Central Ceremonial Otomi, however, are certainly not easy: the Central lies 3000 meters above sea level and puts both athletes and their machines through their paces, with the thin air leading to a loss in performance meaning that the riders must adapt their riding style to suit the new handling conditions. The Central Ceremonial Otomi is approximately one-and-half hours drive from Mexico City, where the traditional curtain raiser of the biggest FMX tour on the planet will take place on Friday.

Among the favorites for the win at the first of six stops on the World Tour 2010 are both familiar faces Robbie Maddison (AUS) and Red Bull X-Fighters World Champion 2009 Nate Adams (USA) as well as rookie Levi Sherwood (NZL). The 18-year-old from New Zealand won the opening event in Mexico City in 2009 with tricks that more than justified his nickname "The Rubber Kid". Back then Sherwood only received a wildcard to compete in the event at the very last minute; this season he will be riding all six stops of the World Tour 2010.

Kicking it all off is the traditional season curtain raiser in Mexico City at the Monumental Plaza de Toros, the world's largest bullfighting arena, which holds an astonishing 42,000 rabid fans. Last year, 17-year-old Kiwi Levi Sherwood shocked the FMX world when he claimed the win, showcasing his tremendous ability and why his nickname is "The Rubber Kid."

Jostling for a place with old classics such Mexico City and the legendary two-day event in the Spanish capital Madrid (ESP) will be new and exciting locations for 2010. The second event of the six-stop Tour will take place in the shadow of the Pyramids and the world famous Great Sphinx in the city of Giza, Egypt, where the dry heat and blazing sun will be sure to push the athletes to the limit. The next highlight follows just weeks later as the Red Square and the Kremlin in the Russian capital of Moscow host the world's 12 best freestyle motocross athletes.

Following Moscow, London's legendary Battersea Power Station will be recharged once again to electrify the crowd and the riders before the Red Bull X-Fighters head to the Eternal City, Rome, to crown the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour Champion.

Last year it was America's Nate Adams who claimed the title in front of a sell-out crowd of 20,000 at London's Battersea Power Station following a thrilling season full of twists and turns. This time around, Adams is back to try to defend his title and secure his place as one of the all-time greats of Red Bull X-Fighters. Among his most dangerous challengers will be multi-world record holder Robbie Maddison (AUS), who will be looking to finally secure victory in the overall standings after placing third and second respectively in 2008 and 2009.

In 2010, Red Bull X-Fighters is no longer an invitational. Instead of holding a ranking event, qualifying will be carried out according to performance and the World Tour ranking. The top six riders are be pre-qualified, meaning that Adams (USA), Maddison (AUS), Eigo Sato (JPN), Mat Rebeaud (SUI), Dany Torres (ESP) and Sherwood (NZL) are already seeded for the season opener in Mexico based on their standings at the end of the 2009 season. Four more spots will be battled out by six riders, who have been selected by the international Red Bull X-Fighters Jury following an application process in autumn last year, while two wildcard riders will complete the starting field.

"This method will guarantee a fair competition on the highest sportive level with only the very best riders competing at each single Tour stop," explains Tour Director Tes Sewell.

One famous face will be missing from the international line-up at the traditional season curtain-raiser in Mexico City: 2008 Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour champion Mat Rebeaud (SUI) has been forced out of the event due to an injury suffered while training at the Red Bull Compound in California. The Swiss ripper plans to be back for the two-day spectacular in Madrid (ESP) to resume battle with the best FMX riders on the planet after narrowly missing out on back-to-back titles at last year's end-off season showdown in London.

Cam Sinclair makes his comeback in Mexico City after a scare at Red Bull X-Fighters Madrid last year, where he suffered serious injuries while attempting a double backflip. But Cam is healthy and ready to go.

Nate Adams (USA)
Robbie Maddison (AUS)
Eigo Sato (JPN)
Adam Jones (USA)
Andrè Villa (NOR)
Taka Higashino (JPN)
Jim McNeil (CAN)
Cameron Sinclair (AUS)

Dany Torres (ESP)
Levi Sherwood (NZ)
Charles Pagès (FRA)
Blake Williams (AUS)
Johan Nungaray (MEX)
Libor Podmol (CZE)