August 31, 2010 (Mont-Sainte-Anne, QC) – The UCI World MTB and Trials Championships kick off officially on Tuesday with the opening ceremonies to be held in downtown Québec City. The ceremonies will include the introduction of the national teams consisting of the planet’s best mountain bike and trials riders, followed by a light and slideshow and ending with an outdoor rock concert. The weather forecast for the next few days looks like a continuation of the warm sunny streak the region has been enjoying, so the outdoor festivities should be well attended. However, Thursday and Friday have a healthy chance of showers, which could throw mud into the mix for many of the races.
As host country, Team Canada is the largest squad with 68 athletes on the start list. Organizers Gestev and the CCA have put in an extra effort to make this event special for home country athletes, with a big trailer and tent setup in the team area. The Canadian team will also wear special edition uniforms on race day with a design that features the Mont-Sainte-Anne, RideClean, and LOOK logos and much more black than previous designs.
The tracks for all three disciplines are legendary in Mont Ste Anne, Canada and every racer who has ever raced a World Cup will have at least one or two stories about how the track they raced on almost did them in at one point. A cornerstone of the World Cup since it began, MSA welcomes fans and racers alike this week as it celebrates 20 years of World Cup racing hosting its second MTB World Championships since 1998.
The first Cross country medal of the 2010 Worlds will be awarded on Wednesday, September 1 after the Team Relay, which starts at 11:00 am EST. The four-person team roster (one elite male, one U23 male, one elite female, and one junior male) has yet to be named, but Team Canada will be guaranteed to be gunning for gold on home turf. After last year’s silver medal in Australia, and Canada’s history of strong relay teams, the gold is definitely within reach.
Later that day, the junior women will vie for the rainbow jersey. Defending World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (France) is still a junior and will be at the start, but so will recent Windham World Cup winner Yue Bai (China) and two-time World Cup winner Jolanda Neff (Switzerland). The seven-rider Canadian squad features National Champion Kristina Laforge (Canada), Laura Bietola (Canada), who finished ninth at the Val di Sole World cup, and Lauren Rosser (Canada), who finished 11th on the technical Champery World Cup course.
The next XC event of the week is the U23 women’s competition, which starts at 10:00 am on Thursday. Last year’s Champion, Aleksandra Dawidowicz (POL), has since graduated to the elite ranks, which leaves the race wide open. And considering the absence of multiple U23 World Cup winner Julie Bresset (France), the podium will be wide open. If all goes well, Canada’s Emily Batty (Canada), who has finished in the top three U23’s this season, has a very strong shot at a medal and the rainbow jersey. 2008 Champion Tanja Zakelj’s (SLO) will also be expected to be in the mix. Runner-up at the Canadian Championships Mikaela Kofman (Canada) has been riding well this season and could do very well, along with Rebecca Beaumont (Canada).
Starting at 11:00 am on Friday, September 3, the junior men have their chance to tear up the course at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Canada’s junior men had some impressive results at the World Cups in Europe this summer, with Antoine Caron (Canada) placing fourth in Val di Sole and Leandre Bouchard (Canada) 10th. Choosing a medal favourite based on this season’s World Cup results is very tough, with a different winner each round in this deep field. Top Swiss rider Roger Walder will on the start line along with Jens Schuermans (Bel) Belgian who has one win and a third place under his belt, making him the most consistent of the bunch – it’s sure to be an exciting race to watch.
The U23 men will follow on Friday at 2:00 pm. With Burry Stander (Republic of South Africa) up in the elite ranks, U23 European Champion Mathias Flückiger (Switzerland) has taken the spotlight. Not only has he been winning U23 races, he has also made several elite top 10 placings at World Cups this season. After that, it’s open season with an array of riders gunning for podium spots, including last year’s U23 silver medalist and 2008 junior champ Alexis Vuillermoz (France). Patrik Gallati (Switzerland) and Martin Fanger (Switzerland) continue the strong Swiss line-up. On the Canadian side, National Champion Jared Stafford (Canada) and Francis Morin (Canada) will lead the charge.
The elite women’s race will likely receive the most attention on race day – Saturday, September 4. With an 11:00 am start, swarms of Canadian fans will crowd the edges of the 5km course in anticipation of an epic battle as hometown sweetheart Marie-Hélène Prémont (Canada) takes to the stage. Last weekend in Windham she showed she has what it takes to get onto the podium when she placed second to none other than Canada’s Catharine Pendrel (Canada) in a heated battle that came down to the wire. With two Canadians in medal – and world title – contention, it’s bound to be a show. Pendrel, fresh off of another World Cup win – and the overall series trophy to boot – must be feeling a boost of confidence in the lead-up to the year’s most important race. Her best result so far has been sixth place, which she achieved in 2008 and 2009. For 2010 she’s itching for a medal. Other top elite women include 2009 World Champion Irina Kalentieva (Russia) Topeak-Ergon, Olympic Champion Sabine Spitz (Germany), and World Cup winners Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland), Eva Lechner (Italy), and Maja Wloszczowska (Poland).
The elite men’s field is even deeper than the women’s, and at a World Championship, anything can happen. Nino Schurter (Switzerland) will fight tooth and nail to defend his 2009 title, but Julien Absalon (France) will desperately want it back. Switzerland has an army of seven fast men who all have a shot at the podium, including Florian Vogel (Switzerland), Christoph Sauser (Switzerland), and Ralph Naef (Switzerland). But never discount the extremely fast and charismatic Jose Antonio Hermida (Spain) or last weekend’s World Cup winner Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic). National Champ Geoff Kabush (Canada) will lead the Canadian charge, followed closely by Max Plaxton (Canada) and Derek Zandstra (Canada).
The first trials medal will be awarded on Friday, September 3 in the women’s 20″/26″ finals and will wrap up on Sunday, September 5 with the elite men’s 26″ finals.
The downhill at MSA is one of the only classics left in mountain biking. The newest incarnation is just as technical and long as ever – only the speeds have been sent skyward in recent years. This year’s track is no different with a few technical sections that have been straightened out and speeded up, keeping racers at the limit for their entire run. For some of the racers who aren’t regulars to the World Cup, this track will be an eye opener – welcome to the big leagues.
Look for Gee Atherton (GBR), Steve Peat (GBR) and Greg Minnaar (RSA) to lead the charge here. Perennial favourite Sam Hill (AUS) is back from injury, but the elusive Aussie won’t be showing his cards until race day and could surprise. American racer Aaron Gwin has been pushing hard and getting faster all season, with numerous World Cup podiums, including this past week in Windham, NY at World Cup finals. An ex-motocross racer, Gwinny is used to the rough track and speed that MSA has to offer. This venue was also the scene of his first World Cup a couple of years ago, so look for him to try and make something big happen. Kiwi Sam Blenkinsop loves to get sideways and keep things just barely in control, he could also be a surprise along with top Canadian DH racer Steve Smith. Smith loves to go fast, and loves the roar of the home crowd. He’s quite likely to be on the podium here, as he is having the season of his life and nothing would cap it off better than a World’s medal on home soil.
For the women, Tracy Moseley (GBR), Sabrina Jonnier (FRA) and Rachel Atherton (GBR) are the ones to watch. The track is big here, and only the best of the best will have a chance to keep it together for five minutes to take home a set of stripes. Canada’s Claire Buchar and Micayla Gatto will be leading the Canucks looking to perform in front of a partisan crowd.
For the 4X, Jared Graves (AUS) is the hands down favourite. The Aussie has won almost every single race he has entered this year. He was nearly taken out in one World Cup and wound up 4th, but besides that has gone gate-to-gate every round. When he is on his game is he nearly untouchable – and right now, he is definitely on his game. Joost Wichman (NED) and his cohorts at RSP racing will be looking to spoil Graves’ almost perfect season, so look for the lads in red to make some moves and try to put one of their Dutch members on the top step.
For the women, World Cup overall winner Anita Molcik (CZE) and Anneke Beerten will be battling for gold. They have traded wins and passes all season long and nothing looks ready to change in that regard. On what should be an entertaining course, look for these two to take to the big lines like the boys and jump their way past the competition.
View ALL start lists here.
2010 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships MSA Schedule
Tuesday, August 31
– 19.30 – Official Opening Ceremony – Downtown Quebec City
Wednesday, September 1
– 11.00 – Cross-country Team Relay World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony
– 14.00 – Juniors Women Cross-country World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony
Thursday, September 2
– 9.00 – 13.00 – Juniors Men Trials Semi-finals 20″
– 10.00 – U23 Women Cross-country World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony
– 13.00 – 17.00 – Elite Men Trials Semi-finals 20″
– 18.00 – 4X Qualifying Round
Friday, September 3
– 09.00 – 13.00 – Juniors Men Trials Semi-finals 26″
– 09.15 – 13.15 – Women Trials Finals 20″/26″
– 11.00 – Juniors Men Cross-country World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony
– 13.15 – 17.15 – Elite Men Trials Semi-finals 26″
– 14.00 – U23 Men Cross-country World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony U23 Men XCO and Women OT
– 18.00 Side Event – Short Track Special / 20 Years of Mont-Sainte-Anne Racing
– 21.00 – Men and Women 4X World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony
Saturday, September 4
– 11.00 – Elite Women Cross-country World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony
– 12.30 – 14.00 – Juniors Men Trials Finals 20″
– 14.00 – Elite Men Cross-country World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony Elite Men XCO, Junior Men and Elite Men OT 20″
– 14.30 – 16.00 – Elite Men Trials Finals 20″
Sunday, September 5
– 10.30 – Juniors Women and Juniors Men Downhill World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony
– 12.10 – 13.40 – Juniors Men Trials Finals 26″
– 13.00 – Elite Women Downhill World Championships
– 13.50 – 15.20 – Elite Men Trials Finals 26″
– 14.00 – Elite Men Downhill World Championships followed by Awards Ceremony Elite Women and Men DHI, Junior Men and Elite Men OT 26″, Best OT Team
– 16.45 – Closing Ceremony