World Champs: Pietermaritzburg Preview

Ali Todd Ali Todd

The UCI cross-country and downhill World Champs are nearly upon us. Held for the first time in South Africa, it descends on Cascades MTB Park, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. That’s the region, if you were wondering. And no, I don’t know how to say it!

So what’s going on? Well the XC kicks off today (Thursday) for the juniors, with the under-23s tomorrow, and the elites on Saturday. It will be the culmination of the battle between Nino Schurter and Julien Absalon which has dominated this year’s racing. Schurter has won the last two times he’s been in Pietermaritzburg, but Absalon dominated the last World Cup… expect some tight racing. Here’s a map of the course.

Roughly 3.1 miles of it.
Roughly 3.1 miles of it.

And here’s a helmet camera view of the course…

And the downhill? Well Pietermaritzburg is a controversial course, to say the least. The purists say it’s not technical enough, that it’s flat and pedally, and that it doesn’t do justice to the what should be the biggest race of the year. Other say they’re not really bothered, and that it adds another dimension to the racing. Make up your own mind with another helmet cam.

And another map.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 11.43.03

This should be another case of tight racing. It’s a good time to be a spectator. Pietermaritzburg is Greg Minaar’s back yard, so some people are betting heavily on him. Others have their money on powerhouses Mick Hannah, or Jared Graves, who’s rumoured to be racing on his enduro bike. Others head for safe bet Gee Atherton, or the re-emerging Aaron Gwin. On the womens’ front, Rachel Atherton is a good bet this year, having dominated every single race.

Here’s another video – this time the Dirt TV edit from last year’s race there.

It’s set to be a good weekend of racing. Red Bull TV will be broadcasting races live, so make sure you catch that. If you can’t, they let you replay it later anyway. Don’t miss it!

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