September 01, 2015 (Vallnord-La Massana, Andorra) – The mountain bike season concludes this week with the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships, held in Vallnord-La Massana, Andorra, high among the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. Athletes will compete in the disciplines of cross-country Olympic, Eliminator, team relay, downhill and trials for the right to wear the rainbow stripes all through the next season.here.
Also beginning on Tuesday, and running through the week, will be the Trials competition, a fascinating and skill-demanding discipline, where riders make their way through, over and under obstacles in a series of sections, with the goal being to ‘clean’ each section by not putting a foot down. Traditionally, Spain has been a very strong competitor in this event, along with Germany and France.
On Wednesday, the team relay takes place, with each country fielding a team consisting of an Elite Woman, a Junior Man, Under-23 Man and Elite Man, with each rider completing one lap. Tactics play a big part in this race – do you start with your fastest rider to open a gap and hope you can hold on, or do you save your faster riders for later, and hope they can make up any gaps? Switzerland has to be considered the favourite in this race.
Team Canada – 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships here.
Thursday, the cross-country action begins, with the Junior Women, look for Canada’s Soren Meeuwisse, Laurie Arsenault, Emily Handford and Mackenzie Myatt, and Junior Men including Raphael Auclair, Rhys Verner, Quinton Disera and Sean Fincham.
Then on Friday it’s the Under-23 Women and Men with Canada’s Catherine Fleury, Maghalie Rochette, Haley Smith and Frederique Trudel racing in the women’s event and Peter Disera, Marc-André Fortier, Marc-Antoine Nadon and Alexandre Vialle on the men’s start line.
The Elite Women and Men conclude this discipline on Saturday. In the Elite races, we will see the unique circumstance of Under-23 rider Jolanda Neff of Switzerland riding with the Elite Women as Canada’s Emily Batty, Mikaela Kofman, defending champ Catharine Pendrel and Sandra Walter will be on the start line for Canada.
Neff was given the opportunity to ‘ride up’ after winning the overall Elite World Cup, however, her victory is by no means assured, with Annika Langvad (Denmark) and defending UCI World Champion Pendrel are both ready to give her a battle.
In the Elite Men’s competition, expect to see the resumption of the season-long battle between World Cup Champion Nino Schurter (Switzerland) and defending World Champion Julien Absalon (France). Another possible podium contender is Olympic Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic). For Canada’s it’s Léandre Bouchard, Raphaël Gagné, Geoff Kabush and Derek Zandstra doing the honours.
After the cross-country competition concludes, it is time for the crowd-favourite downhill on Sunday. Vallnord is notorious for its steep, rough and rocky track. Rachel Atherton (Great Britain) is far and away the Elite Women’s favourite, coming off an incredible six straight World Cup victories.
However, anything can happen in the downhill, and defending World Champion Manon Carpenter (Great Britain) has been nipping at Atherton’s heels all season, while Myriam Nicole (France) is also a strong podium favourite. Racing for Canada are Casey Brown, Claire Buchar, Miranda Miller and Vaea Verbeek.
In the Elite men’s competition, Aaron Gwin (USA) just finished winning his third World Cup title, however, he has had bad luck at the World Championships in the past; can he finally win the rainbow stripes this year? Others to watch out for are Greg Minnaar (South Africa), Loïc Bruni (France) and Josh Bryceland (Great Britain). Canada’s Matt Beer, Steve Smith and Mark Wallace will be in the medal hunt as well.
Also racing are Junior Men – Jack Almond, Henry Fitzgerald and Magnus Manson – and Junior Women Georgia Astle from Whistler, BC.