Model Racer

    Photo: Richard Bailey/The Artist Group

Niki Gudex

Name: NIKI GUDEX
Home: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Gig: MOUNTAIN-BIKE RACING
Height: 5'4" Age: 26

Gudex is the grit girl of Australian mountain biking. Since joining the national series, in 2000, she's finished every season but one ranked first or second in downhill. Last year she jumped to cross-country—as rare in cycling as it is in skiing—entered the World Cup circuit, and finished the season ranked 23rd.

SEEN NEXT: September 7–12, in Les Gets, France, at the World Mountain Bike Championships.

BREAKING IN: Once an aspiring pro snowboarder, she ditched the sport after breaking her back in 1997. Two years later, she entered her first bike race on a whim—and won. "I bought a bike on Wednesday, raced on Friday, and haven't stopped."

MOONLIGHTING: Gudex has been modeling since age 16 and has graced the pages of Aussie editions of Vogue and InStyle. In 2003, she was featured in the photography journal Black+White's annual issue of Down Under sports stars in the buff. But she drew the line when Hugh Hefner came knocking: "It took me three months to agree to the Black+White shoot, and two seconds to turn down Playboy."

WIN, LOSE, OR DRAW: She has a bachelor's in creative arts and does occasional freelance design work—a career she'll turn to when her legs lose their kick.

SECOND OPINION: "I've stopped trying to keep up with her," says Grant Day, 31, a two-time Aussie mountain-cross champ and Gudex's boy-friend of five years. "My pride was suffering too much."

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