September 06, 2012 (Saalfelden, AUT) – The 2012 UCI XC Mountain Bike World Championships get underway today in Saalfelden with the cross-country Team Relay as the teams of four (Elite men & women, U23 men, and Junior men) each complete a lap of the 4.5km course. Switzerland, Czech Republic, France, and Canada are expected to be vying for the Team Relay rainbow title.
The rain has stopped for the relay event today as intermittent sun is being reported, but soggy and slippery conditions mean the course is muddy and slick making it difficult for riders to hold a line through the woods and the steep downhill sections are treacherous due to the trenches that are forming down the lines.
The spectator-friendly course, designed by Beat Wabel, features 180m of climbing per lap, with two main climbs and two main descents. A couple of technical features per lap require some skill and attention, but the circuit itself is not overly challenging. It will be a very fast race with 10,000 spectators expected as the course is situated within walking distance of town.
On Friday, the U23 men and women and the Junior women compete as Mitch Bailey (Barrie, ON), Léandre Bouchard (Alma, QC), Antoine Caron (Stoneham, QC), Evan Guthrie (Peachland, BC), Jérémy Martin (Boischatel, QC) line up to represent Canada for the men while Cayley Brooks (New Lowell, ON), Andréane Lanthier-Nadeau (Québec, QC), Andréanne Pichette (Québec, QC), Haley Smith (Uxbridge, ON) compete in the U23 event. Frédérique Larose-Gingras (Lac Beauport, QC), Rachel Pageau (Chicoutimi, QC), Frédérique Trudel (Breakyville, QC) race in the Junior Women’s category. Saturday morning is the day for Peter Disera (Barrie, ON), Marc-Antoine Nadon (Timmins, ON), & Alexander Vialle (Prévost, QC) whom will race in the Junior Men’s event.
For the Elite women who race on Saturday, reigning 2011 world champion, Catharine Pendrel (Kamloops, BC), headlines the team and will be looking for a strong performance to defend her world championship rainbow stripes. Pendrel is joined by 2012 Olympian Emily Batty (Brooklyn, ON) who is recovered from a fractured collar bone only days before the London Olympics and Marie-Hélène Prémont (Chateau Richer, QC). Joining the Canadian women is Sandra Walter (Coquitlam, BC) and Amanda Sin (Collingwood, ON).
Walter is wrapping up the strongest season of her 15-year career as the overall Canada Cup winner. “Qualifying to represent Canada at the World Championship is an honour and an accomplishment in itself, because the Canadian women are so strong. I have been achieving personal bests throughout my entire 2012 season and believe my race on Saturday will be no exception.”
“I am really excited to be selected to the team and to represent Canada at World Championships,” says Sin. “I have been feeling really good and have had good training on the course. The race course is fun with a good mixture of singletrack, climbing, and open fast sections.” Canada’s women’s team is currently the highest ranked team in the World.
The Canadian men are led by Geoff Kabush (Courtenay, BC), who recently posted Canada’s best ever Olympic result in men’s mountain bike with an 8th place finish. Joining Kabush is his trade teammate Derek Zandstra (Trenton, ON) who is fresh off a breakthrough victory at the USA Pro XCT. Rounding out the team is Raphael Gagné (Quebec, QC) and Cameron Jette (Toronto, ON).
“I’m feeling really good going into the weekend. The course suits my riding style,” Jette told Pedal. “I had some great training at home in Toronto leading up to the race and everything I need to perform is provided by Cycling Canada and my trade team Scott – 3 Rox. I can’t thank those two organizations enough.”
Absent from the team is 2012 Olympian, Max Plaxton (Victoria, BC). The 2011 and 2012 Canadian National MTB Champion is recovering from a knee injury that occurred while training for London.
Wrapping up the competition on Sunday is the first ever Cross-country Eliminator World Championships. A qualifying round and finals is on tap for Sunday afternoon in downtown Saalfelden.
Thursday, 6. September
- 05:00 pm – Cross-country Team Relay World Championships
- 07:00 pm – 08:45 p.m. – Men Juniors Trials 20″ World Championships
- 09:00 pm – 10:45 p.m. – Men Elite Trials 20″ World Championships
Friday, 7. September
- 11:00 am – Women Under 23 Cross-country World Championships
- 02:00 pm – Men Under 23 Cross-country World Championships
- 05:00 pm – Women Juniors Cross-country World Championships
- 07:00 pm – 08:45 p.m. – Men Juniors Trials 26″ World Championships
- 09:00 pm – 10:45 p.m. – Men Elite Trials 26″ World Championships
Saturday, 8. September
- 09:00 am – Men Juniors Cross-country World Championships
- 11:00 am – Women Elite Cross-country World Championships
- 02:00 pm – Men Elite Cross-country World Championships
Sunday, 9. September
- 01:30 pm – Cross-country Eliminator World Championships