UCI Mountain Bike World Championships preview

More than 800 riders have descended on the Swiss Alpine resort of Champéry for the 22nd edition of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. Here’s all you need to know…

Cross-country gold medal contenders

Defending champion Jose Antonio Hermida checks out the cross country course

Spaniard José Antonio Hermida arrives in Champéry as defending champion having claimed gold in Mont Saint Anne, Canada, last year.

But Jaroslav Kulhavy, silver medallist in 2010, remains the red-hot favourite for the title this year having won the overall World Cup title with victory in five out of the seven races.

That’s not to say the Czech rider will have everything his own way, with home hope Nino Schurter, second in the World Cup this year, France’s four-time world champion Julien Absalon and 2009 under-23 world champion Burry Stander (South Africa) all vying for top spot on the podium.

Meanwhile, in the women’s field, World Cup victor Julie Bresset (France) is racing as an under-23, thus installing Canada’s Catharine Pendrel as the rider to beat for the elite title.

But defending world champion Maja Wloszczowska (Poland), who finished second to Pendrel in the final round of the World Cup, will undoubtedly have something to say about that, while Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa, Italy’s Eva Lechner and Russia’s Irina Kalentieva are all capable of upsetting the odds.

The Brits

Liam Killeen will represent Great Britain in the elite men’s race

Annie Last is Great Britain’s greatest cross-country medal hope in Champéry, looking to upgrade her 2010 under-23 silver to gold this time out.

The 20-year-old has enjoyed a stellar year to date, claiming European Championship silver and registering top ten finishes in back-to-back World Cups before winning the Swiss Cup earlier this week ahead of 2008 Olympic champion Sabine Spitz.

But Derbyshire-born Last has a tough task on her hands with French sensation Julie Bresset, who won the overall elite women’s World Cup title, riding as an under-23.

Meanwhile, Liam Killeen is Great Britain’s sole representative in the men’s elite field, with Lee Craigie set to ride the women’s race.

Kenta Gallagher will contest the men’s under-23 race, while Grant Ferguson and Matthew Sumpton will line-up among the men’s junior field, and Beth Crumpton and Katy Winton will go head-to-head with the best junior women in the world. Killeen, Gallagher, Ferguson and Tracy Moseley will also join forces for the team relay.

Meanwhile, reigning world champion Moseley, Steve Peat, men’s world champion in 2009, and 2010 World Cup champion Gee Atherton will spearhead Great Britain’s downhill campaign.

Click here to see the complete start lists or the full Great Britain line-up across all disciplines.

The course

Champéry has been included on the World Cup schedule on three occasions and its 4km cross country track is renowned as one of the most technical loops on the circuit.

Cross country schedule

Wednesday August 31
Women’s Junior World Championships
Team Relay World Championships

Thursday September 1
Men’s Junior World Championships
Women’s Under-23 World Championships

Friday September 2
Men’s Under-23 World Championships

Saturday September
Women’s Elite World Championships
Men’s Elite World Championships

See the full schedule – across all disciplines – here.

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