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Globe’s best bikers all set to race in Pietermaritzbug
- Updated: August 27, 2013
After months of anticipation and preparation, organisers, participants, officials and spectators alike have been counting down the hours to the start of the action of the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday.
With Monday’s programme filled with course inspections and the like, Tuesday sees the first action on course as riders of the various cycling disciplines take to the various tracks and look to familiarize themselves with every twist and turn as quickly as possible prior to the first competition getting underway late on Wednesday afternoon.
The event, being staged on African soil for the first time in history, will follow on from the very well received UCI MTB Masters World Championships which took place at the same venue last week and promises to be the greatest mountain biking spectacle to take place in South Africa for some time.
Having hosted a leg of the UCI MTB World Cup in 2009, 2011 and 2012 Cascades MTB park in Pietermaritzburg is well-known amongst the globe’s top elite competitors and, after months of building, shaping and enhancing, riders are eagerly looking forward to tackling Nick Floros’ cross country and Nigel Hicks’ downhill creations.
Both the men’s and women’s cross country clashes promise to be hotly contested affairs with the likes of Nino Schurter (SUI), Julien Absalon (FRA), Jos├® Hermida Ramos (ESP) and Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) likely to lead the charge in the men’s event whilst Tanja Zakelj (SLO), Eva Lechner (ITA), Alexandra Engen (SWE) and Maja Wloszczowska (POL) will look to battle it out on the women’s front.
Being in good form going into the event is something that all riders would have hoped to achieve and at the most recent World Cup event in Canada it was Absalon who claimed the men’s cross country title and in the women’s event 36-year-old Czech Katerina Nash claimed the title, giving the pair an add advantage coming into the World Champs.
Other cross country events set to take place throughout the competition are the cross country eliminator and cross country team relay. The vast majority of large local crowd expected to flood the Cascades course on Sunday afternoon will have one goal and one goal only as they look to cheer on men’s downhill defending World Champion and PMB local Greg Minnaar.
The hometown hero will however be up against it as the likes of Gee Atherton (GBR), Steve Smith (CAN) and Sam Hill (AUS), amongst others, look to make the men’s rainbow striped jersey their own whilst the women’s race is likely to be dominated by Great Britain’s duo ÔÇô Rachel Atherton and Manon Carpenter ÔÇô and the French quartet of Emmeline Ragot, Morgane Charre, Floriane Pugin and Myriam Nicole.
In Mount Sainte-Anne it was Canadian Steve Smith that took the World Cup title in his home country and is looking in good nick heading into the World Championships. Amongst the women it was Emmeline Ragot from France that claimed the title of World Cup champion.
Recent months have also seen Kim Phillips, together with his team of course designers, hard at work preparing the course upon which the Trials ÔÇô a cycling discipline relatively unknown to South Africans ÔÇô element of the event will be staged and the river-based, African-looking facility has caused quite a stir amongst those who have visited the park in recent times.
The Trials event will see riders jump and hop their way through the various natural and urban obstacles, without putting their feet down, as accurately and quickly as possible.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships end on Sunday.