One week after Switzerland took home eight medals at the European Championships in Israel, the nation will host its national championships in Gränichen on Sunday.
With five men ranked in the top 10 in the world, the elite men's race promises to be a good one. Defending champion Florian Vogel will return to the race and face competition from other favorites, like Nino Schurter, Christoph Sauser, Ralph Naef, Fabian Giger, Martin Gujan and Lukas Flückiger, who won silver last weekend in Haifa.
In the women's race, defending champion Katrin Leumann, showed her form last weekend in Haifa when she won the European Championship. She's aiming for title number three in a row. European marathon champion Esther Süss, Marielle Saner-Guinchard, Nathalie Schneitter and Sarah Koba will also contest the women's championship.
The current world's best-ranked under 23 male rider Mathias Flückiger will face off against Thomas Litscher, Patrick Gallati, Martin Fanger, Pascal Meyer, Matthias Rupp, Jérémy Huegenin, Matthias Stirnemann, Reto Indergand and Lukas Loretz.
In the Under 23 women's race, Kathrin Stirnemann, who won silver at the Europeans, will race Vivienne Meyer, Virginie Pointet, who was third last year, and 2009 junior national champion Michelle Hediger.
Roger Walder and Linda Indergand are the favorites for the Under 19 junior titles. while defending champion Andrea Waldis will take on last year's runner-up Andri Frischknech in the Under 17 men's race.
Racers will compete in a 5.5km route with some singletrack and plenty of accessibility for spectators.
Having suffered a dislocated shoulder during her race run at round 3 of the downhill World Cup series in Leogang, Austria, Rachel Atherton (Commencal) has opted to miss the next two World Cup rounds in favour of strengthening her shoulder ahead for this year's World Championships. She will sit out this weekend's racing in Champery, Switzerland, and next weekend's racing in Val di Sole, Italy.
"Things seem rather clear to me at the moment, I guess that when big things happen, everything drops into a rather more grounded perspective, and so it was with a clear, if somewhat sepia head that I decided it would be in my best interests not to race," said Atherton, writing in her personal blog via the Athertons' website.
Atherton's shoulder has made great progress since her crash in Austria but with the forthcoming World Cups both being held on technical, gnarly tracks, it was too much of a risk for her with a shoulder that is not 100 percent.
The former World Champion was looking forward to returning to the Val di Sole, Italy, venue where she claimed the 2008 world title in spectacular fashion and, "a track where, in every rut and root, lies a little piece of my heart". She will have to wait another year until the World Cup visits Val di Sole again.
Atherton will make her return to racing in August at the Crankworx Festival in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada before racing the World Cup Finals in Windham, New York, and the World Championships in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec, Canada.
Full standings from US national cross country series
Earlier this month, the USA Cycling US Pro XCT series wrapped up at the fifth and final round of the series, the Sand Creek International Classic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
On the men's side, Todd Wells (Specialized) secured the overall series title with back-to-back podium finishes. He was third in that weekend's cross country race and won the short track race. Wells came into Colorado Springs 85 points ahead of Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) and cemented his series victory by winning both events he entered.
The women's competition was less climactic, as Georgia Gould (Luna) cemented her position atop the final podium with a clean sweep of the weekend's three events, beginning with the stage 1 time trial. Gould was 115 points ahead of Willow Koerber (Subaru-Trek) before Sand Creek, and finished with a 45-point margin.
Wells and Gould both followed up their Pro XCT series wins with victories June 17 in the cross country competitions at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Granby, Colorado.
German actor Heinrich Schmieder was found dead in his hotel room while participating in the TransAlp mountain bike stage race this week. He passed away sometime between Tuesday night, July 20 and Wednesday morning, July 21.
"The organization and participants of the TransAlp are in mourning for Heinrich Schmieder," read a statement from organizers.
Teammate Michael Goffin found the actor, who became famous in the role of a Tatort detective in Livigno on Wednesday morning. An emergency doctor, who was called immediately, was only able to record the death of the 40-year-old.
"At the moment, we cannot give any more information concerning the time or the cause of death," said TransAlp Race Director Uli Stanciu.
"We are shocked by this tragic information. Our deepest condolences are with Schmieder's family.
Schmeider is survived by his wife and two children.
Pro roadie earns podium spot at US mountain bike nationals
Road racer Peter Stetina has been enjoying a break from pro road circuit during the month of July, but he hasn't been sitting on the couch. The Garmin-Transitions rider took to the start line at the US Mountain Bike National Championships in Granby, Colorado, last weekend. When the dust had settled after the cross country race, he occupied the final podium spot.
"It was fun," said Stetina to Cyclingnews of his medal-winning, fifth place ride, "but the only mountain bike races you'll see me at are the Firecracker 50 and the US Mountain Bike Nationals." Stetina raced his mountain bike in Granby wearing the Tokyo Joes jersey.
"As a road racer, you either have the top form of your life and you're at the Tour de France, or you have a summer break. For my summer break, I've got it written in my contract the wtih the team that I can come out and do a few mountain bike races if it doesn't conflict with my schedule and if it won't tweak anything with my training."
When asked about his Garmin-Transitions team's performance at this year's Tour, Stetina said, "The team has had the worst luck in the Tour this year, but Ryder (Hesjedal) has shown that he's strong; he's another mountain biker. These mountain bikers, we're for real out here."
"Our team is the best team with the best support. You can look for big things from the team in the Vuelta."
Stetina would like to be on the team's roster for the Vuelta a España. "I'm on the long team, and I hope to be selected for the final team," he said. In the interim, he's got the Tour of Poland on his schedule and four races in Italy.
The 22-year-old used to be a mountain biker. "I started on a mountain biking so coming to these two races is like going back to my roots. My first race was the 24 hours of Moab with a junior team. A soccer teammate had convinced me to do it, and the culture was so much fun."
Cross country and downhill racers get a preview of 2011 worlds
After a one-month break, the second half of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup restarts in Champéry, Switzerland, with a double event: cross country and downhill. This Alpine village will play host to the World Championships next year so, in addition to wanting to perform well in the World Cup, riders will be anxious to check out the courses for 2011.
The cross country happens on Sunday. The circuit has been slightly modified from the one used last year, with a short steep climb and sharp descent added in the first half of the circuit. The riders still face the long climb that opens the second half of the course, but they do not go as high as previously.
The rain that has been falling during training has made the new climb and descent quite tricky, according to women's World Cup leader Catharine Pendrel (Luna).
"I think it is actually harder than last year. There are two climbs [per lap] now, and the first one is slippery in the wet. The dropoff that follows it has only one line, and if you miss it you are in trouble."
Canada's Pendrel, who won the last round in Offenburg, Germany, will be looking to extend her lead in the World Cup standings, but she will face a number of challengers. American Willow Koerber (Subaru-Trek) is anxious to take back the leader's jersey after a sub-par performance in Offenburg. Other challengers include World Champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) and last year's winner at Champéry, Elisabeth Osl (Central Pro). The top six women are separated by only 100 points, so it is quite likely that the winner in Champéry will be the World Cup leader going into the next round.
On the men's side, the World Cup is becoming a battle between series leader Julien Absalon (Orbea) and World Champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) the pair are separated by only 40 points, and if either wins in Champéry, he will probably don the leader's jersey. Other podium contenders...
Quick links to national championships around the globe
Mountain Bike National Championships happen year-round depending on location and discipline, but a majority of the cross country championships, among countries in the northern hemisphere, happened on the weekend of July 17-18.
Furthermore, late September is when many nations hold their marathon national championships, as suggested by the UCI.
Below is an updated index of 2010 National Championship coverage on Cyclingnews. Click on the appropriate link to access coverage for cross country, downhill, four cross and marathon disciplines.
If you attend a national championship race over the coming weeks Cyclingnews would love to share your images with fans around the world; simply e-mail email@example.com with photos and captions, or if you spot any results we've missed.