August 31, 2012 (Austria) – Ten years after the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championship took place in Kaprun, Austria, the event has returned to the same region for the 2012 edition, to take place in Leogang for the Gravity events and Saalfelden for the Cross-country.
The Championships kick off with the fan favourite Downhill and 4-Cross events, running August 31st to September 2nd in the village of Leogang, well known for the World Cup it has hosted over the past few years. The competition begins with the 4-Cross, starting Qualifying on Friday evening and the Championship on Saturday evening, and then followed by the Downhill Final on Sunday. One of the biggest factors may be the weather, with heavy rain forecast to begin on Friday.
The 450 metre 4-cross course was designed by German pro Guido Tschugg for the World Cup series and has been updated, while still retaining many of the features that have made it so exciting. Out of the start the riders hit a sharp left and then right turn before negotiating the rock garden and then a third banked turn. From there, they jump a bridge and negotiate a washboard section before a final right turn and jump into the finishing straight.
The 11 rider women’s field is headed by Anneke Beerten (Netherlands), the defending world champion. Others to watch for include American Melissa Buhl, the 2008 world champion, and local Austrian favourite Anita Molcik, who will certainly step up her game in front of the home crowd.
On the men’s side, there is likely to be a battle between the three Czech riders – Michal Prokop, Tomas Slavik and Lukas Mechura – however, Joost Wichman (Netherlands) has regularly made the podium and will certainly be a factor.
The 2600 metre Downhill run will favour riders with fitness and endurance. The very fast course has a ‘Bike Park’ feel to it, and requires riders to pedal hard to maintain speed all the way down, especially on the opening half of the run. Wet conditions are forecast, and could have a huge impact on the track.
The Elite women’s field has been hit hard with injuries, and a number of top riders are missing, including Myriam Nicole (France), Emilie Siegenthaler (Switzerland), Tracey Hannah (Australia), and Jill Kintner (USA). However, the top two riders of the season will be renewing their battle, with World Cup leader Rachel Atherton (Great Britain) battling defending world champion Emmeline Ragot (France) for the right to wear the rainbow stripes.
On the men’s side there is one major name missing due to injury – defending world champion Danny Hart (Great Britain). The list of potential winners here is long, led by World Cup winner Aaron Gwin (USA), his perennial rival Greg Minnaar (South Africa), Gee Atherton (Great Britain) and Sam Hill (Australia). Hill in particular will be one to watch if it gets muddy.
For complete list of all Canadians racing click HERE.
The action begins in Leogang on Friday evening!