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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Saturday, August 3, 2013

Date published:
August 3, 2013, 21:00

Edited by Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to and results, reports & photos to

  • NICA High School Cycling News Round-up - July 29, 2013

    The all-conquering Kate Courtney is one of the subjects of a new ad campaign launched by NICA in July.
    Article published:
    July 29, 2013, 19:30
    Paul Skilbeck

    Leagues grow over 31%; Meet the student athlete: Taylor Smith

    The ending of a highly successful spring season for NICA leagues was followed by a the tally of the numbers revealing that participation in NICA's spring leagues grew from 2012 by an average of over 31%. Participation in all leagues is expected to be close to 3,000 student-athletes this year.

    NICA spring league student-athlete participation
    NorCal, +19%
    SoCal, +27%
    Texas, +48%
    New York - first year of operation, so not applicable
    Average growth across all spring leagues, +31%

    School might be out, but preparations for the fall leagues kept NICA staff occupied throughout June at the Berkeley headquarters in California. Registration has started for the fall leagues which include Colorado, Utah and Minnesota plus the two leagues in their inaugural seasons this year: Arizona and Tennessee. Racing will begin in September.

    With more than 800 licensed coaches, NICA's coach education is a huge part of the high school cycling movement. The coach education program stepped up a notch with NICA's first ever advanced coaching clinic, held in Utah and led by Lee McCormack of Lee Likes Bikes. Thanks to Booster Club support, 16 coaches from the nine leagues received sponsorship to attend and instruction was specifically aimed to create a group of licensed skills instructors to help coach new riders to increase awareness and control in a range of common situations.

    Summertime is camp time for NICA. The NorCal Camp took place among the redwoods of Mendocino. Guest speakers and riders included Carlos Perez, CEO Bike Monkey, Yuri Hauswald - Gu Energy Labs and Marin Bikes Pro-endurance rider, and Teal Stetson-Lee, pro athlete from Team Luna Chix.

    The SoCal camp ran Monday through Friday, June 24-28, with guest speakers journalist Jimmy McIlvain from Mountain Bike Action and Eddie McDonald of Felt Bicycles, and a session with Patrick Kell, the IMBA Southwest regional director.

    Promotional efforts stepped up in July with an awareness that US cyclists do not yet know enough about NICA unless they are directly involved. A new advertising campaign named "Shaping the Future" was launched to promote the astonishing array of new talent, both adolescent and adult, coming into the cycling world through the various leagues. NICA executive director, Austin McInerny, said, "We realized that although many cyclists like the general idea of high school mountain bike leagues, not enough are aware of how many great people it takes to make something like this happen, and of the range of important life and cycling skills student-athletes get from a few years in a high school league. The fact that more than 99% say they will be lifelong cyclists speaks volumes about the program. The ads call on ordinary cyclists to join the NICA Booster Club as their way of contributing to the growth of cycling in the US."

    The NICA Booster Club has been augmented by the efforts of the recently configured NICA Honorary Board who are working diligently to help expand NICA's reach.

    Getting the message out about NICA's positive effect on school students and their families continued through the NICA documentary Singletrack High. Screenings have continued across the US since the February premiere, with the next one scheduled during the Outdoor Retailer Expo in Salt Lake City next week.

    Meet the athlete: Taylor Smith

    Age: 18

    League: NorCal

    Lives in: Marin County, California

    School Team: Marin Catholic High School

    Best League Result: Third overall, Varsity, NorCal League 2012

    Best Championship result: 2 x 1st place Varsity, California State Championships, 2012 & 2013

    After learning of a stable fracture in his fifth lumbar vertebra six weeks before the California state high school championships, the 2013 winner Taylor Smith had reason to think his hopes for the season had been dashed.

    "I was getting a lot of lower back pain, and it flared up in the NorCal League races. Since the diagnosis I've been doing physio-therapy, and have ridden three races building up to the state championships," he said at Stafford Lake Park after comfortably retaining his state championship title.

    That's right, a year ago Smith, who is now on the Sho-Air/Cannondale North America mountain bike team, won the California high school championships in a three-up sprint. This year he did it by almost a minute.

    "This is the first time in 2013 that I've really felt like myself in a race," he said.

    With a stated preference for individual sports, Smith found cycling in his 11th year, after six years of taekwondo.

    As a mountain bike racing sixth grade student Smith was well aware of the high school league, and by the time he reached eighth grade and became eligible, most of his racing friends were already competing for school teams.

    His league result last year was third, showing he has great consistency and an outstanding ability to rise to the occasion for the biggest events.

    His first ever mountain bike race was the Sea Otter Classic, in which he placed a creditable 14th in the 14 and under category. This year he started with the pro field. "I was riding with Jeremiah Bishop near the front of the group at the start, then Adam Craig attacked on the first climb and that blew the group apart. I finished somewhere in the 80s," he said. Let's remember though, that race was only a few weeks after the diagnosis of his spinal injury and he was still doing physio-therapy work.

    Even though the nation's top junior mountain bikers compete in high school races, the step-up from the high school ranks into pro racing is still quite massive.

    "It is a totally different spectrum starting with the pros," says Taylor. "Riders like Jacob Albrecht and I go as hard as we possibly can in a pro field and still finish nowhere. In high school racing, you get some chance to shine and see how it feels to be the top rider at the event."

    He is clear about the value of racing mountain bikes in high school. "As a high school sport it's an opportunity for a huge number of kids who don't want to do team sports. It's so competitive in these races now, you can race at any level. High school cycling is the next big step for mountain biking."

    As for his years in the NorCal League, "It's been one of the best times of my life. I've learned so much these past few years. The biggest challenge has been putting in more and more hours on the bike. In my freshman year, I could get away with five hours' training a week. Now it's 13 hours. It's been good experience learning to balance my school work and homework, my family and friends, and my training."

    The Sho-Air/Cannondale team sponsorship is top of the list of things that have improved his racing life recently, but Smith is quick to thank his parents and local pro rider Mark Weir for all of their support.

    This year and next he plans to "put it all on the line. By the time I'm 23, I hope to be in the top under 23 ranks. This year I had a slow start with my injury, but next year I'm going to come out swinging."

  • Olympic and world champions head to Davos for BMC Cup

    Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike) on her way to winning
    Article published:
    July 31, 2013, 15:25
    Cycling News

    Spitz, Dahle-Flesjaa and Näf among the favorites this weekend

    The penultimate round of this year's BMC Racing Cup will be staged this weekend on a new course in Davos, Switzerland. Last weekend's World Cup winner Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike), current marathon world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), Lukas Flückiger (BMC) and eliminator world champion Ralph Näf (BMC) are all slated to compete.


    The women's race promises an interesting duel after, to everybody's surprise, the 41-year-old Sabine Spitz earned the second World Cup victory of her career last Saturday in Vallnord, Andorra. After a thrilling race, the 2008 Olympic Champion Spitz triumphed in a very close decision over Katerina Nash (Luna), Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol) and her old rival Dahle Flesjaa, the 2004 Olympic champion and record World Cup winner who was fourth, just nine seconds behind Spitz.

    Due to a shoulder injury suffered in May, Spitz had been out of action for seven weeks. Now that she is back in action, she's trying to get a bunch of racing in her legs. "It is still very important for me to get more competition practice and intensity," she said. She is also trying to accumulate more world ranking points.

    Dahle-Flesjaa has participated in only a few races this season so far due to various illnesses ."For me it is important to get back into competition mode," she said.

    Spitz's Haibike teammate Adelheid Morath, who suffered a broken collarbone in June while training for the European Championships in Bern, also appears among the best riders in the world. She finished her comeback race on 13th position last Saturday. Right behind her, was former world champion Irina Kalentieva from Russia. She will also be lining up at the start in Davos.

    Giant team rider Jolanda Neff, who was seventh in Andorra, and European Marathon Champion Esther Süss will represent the Swiss aspirations in Davos. Süss was 12th last weekend in front of Morath and Kalentieva and said, "I was not quite satisfied with the rank, but I was happy with my performance."

    Since she had entered the Andorra World Cup race without any high-altitude preparation, she will be well acclimatized, because she will travel from the Engadine to Davos.

    "I am looking forward to this test of strength with Sabine and Gunn-Rita, which is always very nice. Let's see, how I can challenge them," said Süss. Of course, this is also true for the young talent Neff, who may as well defy these competitors who are twice her age.

    However, there are two more Swiss women who will make for an exciting women's race: eliminator World Cup winner in Andorra Kathrin Stirnemann and Andrea Waldis.


    Lukas Flückiger of BMC Racing Team is the defending champion. The man from Leimiswil will travel to Davos from the near Engadine and is hoping to overcome the disappointment about his 22nd place at the Andorra World Cup, where a mechanical was responsible for this setback.

    "I will certainly incorporate the race on Sunday in my training program, but my form is good. If everything goes well, I should be able to be up front," said Flückiger.

    His main rivals? Very likely Giant rider Fabian Giger. He was sixth in Andorra although hampered in the race by some tough luck. "My training is having a great effect. I am on the right path," said Giger.

    The same will most likely hold true for Florian Vogel (Scott-Swisspower). He has just returned to the ranks of the world's best with an impressive seventh place at the World Cup in the Pyrenees last weekend.

    The three of them will also have to contend with Flückiger's teammate Ralph Näf, who was unhappy about his 15th place result in Andorra, but clearly shows an upward trend. Since former European Champion Moritz Milatz (BMC) from Germany is also travelling to Davos "with some anger inside", the stage is set for a good race. Milatz had to abandon the World Cup race due to stomach cramps. For the same reasons, his teammate Martin Fanger did not line up for the start.

    Multivan-Merida riders Thomas Litscher and José Antonio Hermida had to cope with disappointment at the World Cup and will try to make up for it this weekend

    Race course changed

    The Davos race course has been re-arranged. The start and finish have been moved to the Bünda grounds near Parsenn parking lot. The track is 5.0km long, and provides a jagged profile after a 500-meter climb. This profile should produce an interesting race.

  • US Cup drops USAC sanctioning for its events to protest UCI Rule 1.2.019

    Racing the Fontana short track
    Article published:
    July 31, 2013, 19:00
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Pro XCT organizer frustrated with lack of progress to change unpopular rule

    Frustrated by a lack of change to the temporarily suspended UCI Rule 1.2.019 preventing racers from participating in non-sanctioned races, the US Cup, which organizes US domestic mountain bike races, will no longer sanction its events through USA Cycling.

    R. Scott Tedro, owner of Sho-Air International and The US Cup, announced that effective immediately, the US Cup will withdraw any USAC sanctioning for all future events. Tedro also said that the US Cup will no longer sponsor or subsidize other promoters whose events are sanctioned with USAC.

    The move comes after what the US Cup called "USAC's ambiguous stance and continued blame of the UCI for the possible enforcement of rule 1.2.019, which prohibits licensed pro and amateur riders from racing in non-USAC sanctioned events starting in 2014".

    Over the last eight years, the US Cup has promoted and or subsidized over 110 USAC-sanctioned mountain biking events, more than any other promoter in the US. It is perhaps best known for annually hosting rounds of the US Pro XCT, including races such as Bonelli Park and Fontana in California.

    Earlier in 2013, the UCI said it would begin enforcing the longstanding Rule 1.2.019 and its related rules, which prohibit any licensed riders from competing in non-sanctioned events without risk of punishment by suspension or fine. It told its national federations, such as USA Cycling, that they must also enforce the rules. 

    Following that announcement and a subsequent uproar from North American racers, the UCI relented and agreed to postpone the enforcement of the rules until January 1, 2014.  Many racers were hoping that the extra time before the rule was supposed to go into effect would create an opportunity for the UCI to amend or change the rule, which currently applies across all cycling disciplines and categories.  Among those significantly affected are North American mountain bike pros, who regularly compete in high profile, unsanctioned races such as the Trans-Sylvania Epic or the Whiskey Off-Road.  Enduro racers and 'cross racers would also be affected as many high profile enduros and 'cross races are not sanctioned by USA Cycling.

    Tedro believes that the lack of progress to change the rule before it goes officially back into full effect in 2014 is "an attempt to force promoters to sanction with the USAC, enabling them to increase revenues and bolster their power over the sport while continuing to deliver an inferior product".

    When asked to comment, USA Cycling had this to say about Rule 1.2.019: "USA Cycling has heard from and listened to many stakeholders – teams, riders (pro and amateur), race directors, industry and sponsors – in all cycling disciplines regarding the impact of rule 1.2.019 and we are working on a solution. This rule is not specific to mountain bike."

    Tedro said, "We would rather concentrate our investment and our partners' sponsorship dollars on the event itself without the burden of USAC priorities or needs, which quite often have nothing to do with the paying customer... the riders and their families."

    He also pointed to "numerous and continued inconsistencies and ever-changing priorities over the years in USAC policy and procedure, including their lack of support and management for their own series the Pro XCT and Pro UET, while placing the sole cost on the promoter, has become counterproductive to the product which the US Cup wishes to endorse."

    The US Cup has also hosted Pro UET events, such as the Sagebrush Safari, thereby making it a serious supporter of both the official USAC cross country and endurance national series.

    Tedro, the man behind the Sho-Air / Cannondale team, said the team's riders will not boycott USAC-sanctioned races, but can race any events which are beneficial to them. "The riders are free to choose their calendar, as they should regardless to the position taken by Tedro with USAC."

    Tedro said, "We want to provide tangible benefits back to the customer rather than subsidizing USAC's aim to qualify the maximum number of riders to the Olympics at the sole expense of the promoters and the paying participants. We don't feel compelled to support the USAC for its two series, the Pro XCT and Pro UET when they refuse to mitigate costs, promote the series or enforce proper course set up and on-site management. In fact, they don't even send a full USAC officiating crew to ensure a consistent management and feel for the events."

    USA Cycling will be issuing a further response responding to Tedro's comments about its two national series: the Pro XCT and Pro UET.

  • Canada announces team for UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

    Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    August 1, 2013, 14:40
    Cycling News

    Thirty-two athletes headed to South Africa

    Cycling Canada announced its team for the upcoming 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships to be held in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, from August 26 to September 1, 2013.

    The Canadian world championships team is comprised of 32 athletes - 20 cross country riders and 12 downhillers - who will compete in the cross county, downhill and trials races in junior, U23 and elite categories.

    "We continue to have the ability to stand on the podium at these events. Our cross country program has been one of the strongest in the world over the last Olympic cycle with world titles and World Cup titles, as well as several medals in downhill. We are heading to South Africa with the objective to continue our momentum of performance at the highest level as we enter a new and exciting cycle that will take us to Rio," said Jacques Landry, High Performance Director and Head Coach at Cycling Canada.

    In the cross country events, the dynamic duo of Emily Batty and Catharine Pendrel, who both have demonstrated podium performances this season on the UCI World Cup tour, will be looking take the top spot at the women's race. Pendrel won the world championships race in 2011.

    Six-time Canadian Champion Geoff Kabush, two-time Canadian Champion Max Plaxton and current Canadian Champion Derek Zandstra will be looking to post big performances this year in the elite men's cross country race. Kabush is known in mountain biking for his ability to perform on demand at major events such as world championships, while Plaxton is now a consistent contender in elite field.

    The U23 men's cross country field in Canada has depth with many riders challenging for a spot on team. The Canadian Champion, Mitchell Bailey, will be on the start line in South Africa, along with Antoine Caron and Evan McNeely. In the women's field, U23 rookie Frederique Trudel who is undefeated at Canadian Championships in the last three years by winning two junior titles and the U23 title in her first season riding in the age group, will be among the selected group of riders.

    Peter Disera, who has impressed with his diverse skillsets by, winning medals at cyclo-cross, road and mountain bike Canadian championships, will be leading the junior men's cross country crew. Rachel Pageau, who has competed in some UCI World Cups this year, will be competing in the junior women's cross country race. Both Disera and Pageau recently won the junior Canadian Championships titles.

    Steve Smith and Mark Wallace headline the downhill group to compete at the world championships, along with Holly Feniak, who will be defending her junior women world championship title. Both Smith and Wallace have been riding strong this season on the UCI World Cup, showing depth and consistency.

    Canadian team for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships

    Elite men cross country
    Raphael Gagne
    Geoff Kabush
    Max Plaxton
    Derek Zandstra [Team Relay]

    Elite women cross country
    Emily Batty [Team Relay]
    Catharine Pendrel (2011 Word Champion)
    Amanda Sin
    Sandra Walter

    U23 men cross country
    Mitchell Bailey [Team Relay]
    Antoine Caron
    Evan McNeely

    U23 women cross country
    Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau
    Magalie Rochette
    Frederique Trudel

    Junior men cross country
    Felix Belhumeur
    Felix Burke
    Peter Disera [Team Relay]

    Junior women cross country
    Haley Golding
    Marine Lewis
    Rachel Pageau

    Elite men downhill
    Remi Gauvin
    Forrest Riesco
    Kyle Sangers
    Sidney Slotegraaf
    Steve Smith

    Elite women downhill
    Casey Brown
    Micayla Gatto
    Lauren Rosser (2010 World Junior Champion)

    Junior men downhill
    Hugo Langevin
    Mckay Vezina
    Mark Wallace

    Junior women downhill

    Holly Feniak (Reigning Junior World Champion)

  • Davison and Wells target Pro XCT titles in Vermont

    Lea Davison (Specialized) was gapped by Chloe Woodruff but maintained contact with Gould
    Article published:
    August 1, 2013, 19:24
    Cycling News

    US cross country national series wraps up at Catamount Classic this weekend

    It was only two short weeks ago when Olympian Lea Davison (Specialized) and surprise victor Steve Ettinger (BMC) won the US Cross Country National Championships in Pennsylvania. They will continue their east coast tour with their next stop at the Specialized Catamount Classic, the final stop in the US Pro XCT national series. The stage has been set for an epic battle for the overall title this weekend with a tight men's and women's contests.

    Team Specialized experienced unprecedented domination at the last Pro XCT in Wisconsin winning both the short track and the cross country for men and women. On the women's side, Vermont local favorite Davison won both the Subaru Cup and the Missoula XC, garnering enough points to snatch the overall lead from Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers). Davison's teammate Todd Wells did the same after winning the last Pro XCT in Wisconsin, taking the overall lead from Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale). With several Olympians, world champions, and athletes from four countries towing the line, the race is all but wrapped up.

    The Specialized Catamount Classic is taking a different approach to racing. Race Director Eric noted that this is the first time - as far as he knows - that a Pro XCT is being held by a not-for-profit, 501c3 organization. Any proceeds from the race will go back to promoting the sport through programs at Catamount Outdoor Family Center.

    In addition, the Catamount Classic has a social mission to empower women. The women's race will not be the opening act for the men's race; instead, the crowd can enjoy the men's cross country race at 11:00 am and the women's race at 2:00 pm on Saturday. The men's short track will be at 2:00 pm and the women's short track at 2:45 pm on Sunday. Another goal is to have the men and women race the same distance within the existing UCI rules.

    The Catamount decided to name two of its A lines, the Specialized Fate and Rumor, after women's race bikes to showcase that women can ride just as hard as the guys. And finally, for the first time in mountain bike history, the race will be paying the women more prize money than the men, thanks to sponsorship from G-Form.

    Organizers hope to keep up similar support of the women's racing at a cyclo-cross race it will host this fall.

    With this one round remaining, Pro XCT standings are posted below. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for coverage of the Catamount Classic this weekend.

    2013 Pro XCT standings with one round remaining

    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) 1385  pts
    2 Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) 1315  
    3 Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountain Bike Team) 605  
    4 Ryan Woodall 585  
    5 Mitchell Hoke (Kenda/Felt) 565  
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Lea Davison (Specialized Racing) 910  pts
    2 Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers) 855  
    3 Erica Tingey (Jamis) 692  
    4 Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Cannondale) 600  
    5 Erin Huck 580  
    # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
    1 Specialized Racing 2375  pts
    2 Sho-Air/Cannondale 2226  
    3 Trek Factory Racing 1305  
    4 BMC Development 1065  
    5 Kenda/Felt 805  
  • Shaw and Kintner among favorites for US downhill nationals

    Jill Kintner (Norco)
    Article published:
    August 2, 2013, 17:24
    Cycling News

    Angel Fire hosts top US downhillers for national championships

    America's best downhillers and dual slalom racers will be crowned this weekend at the 2013 US Gravity Mountain Bike National Championships. Angel Fire Resort, located in northern New Mexico, is playing host to hundreds of riders looking to claim a Stars-and-Stripes jersey.

    Two riders who notched top-10 finishes at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra, this past weekend are expected to put a wheel to the line in Angel Fire: Luca Shaw (Specialized Gravity DH), who placed fifth in the juniors men's downhill, and Jill Kintner (Team Norco International), who finished eighth in the elite women's race.

    Additionally, there will be several riders competing who rank in the top five in the USA Cycling Pro GRT standings, including women's leader Anne Galyean (Trek-Integrity Racing-Deity), third-ranked Amber Price (BikeSource Gravity Racing) and fourth-ranked Mary Elges (Integrity Racing - Deity).

    The downhill races will start at 10,500 feet above sea level, and competitors will descend nearly 2,000 feet as they cover about 2.5 miles to the finish line. The dual slalom course is a quarter-mile long and includes about 100 feet of elevation loss.

    The elite categories will contest dual slalom finals on Saturday and and downhill finals on Sunday.

    The Angel Fire Bike Park has previously hosted the USA Cycling Collegiate MTB Nationals the past few years.

  • Zakelj aims for rainbow stripes at mountain bike Worlds

    Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools Team)
    Article published:
    August 3, 2013, 14:52
    Cycling News

    Slovenian in search of her first elite world championship title

    Current women's cross country world number one ranked Tanja Zakelj has her eyes firmly set on claiming her first rainbow striped jersey in the elite women's cross country race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at the Cascades MTB Park starting on August 26 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    The Unior Tools Team rider has had a stellar season with two wins from the four UCI MTB World Cup events that have been staged so far in the season with a still solid fifth position in the last leg in Andorra being her worst result of the year thus far.

    "So far my season has gone amazingly well," the 24-year-old said. "In the first World Cup in Albstadt, I managed to finish fourth - that was my first podium in the World Cup.

    "Then the event at Nové Mesto was even better because I won my first World Cup, and in Val di Sole I managed to defend the World Cup leader's jersey with another win so I've been very happy so far."

    To add to her two World Cup wins, the Slovenian went one better by grabbing the continental title in Switzerland.

    "I also managed to take the European Championship in Bern this year.

    "These results have been fantastic for me, and I want to continue to carry my form through to the world champs."

    Being world champion is not a foreign concept to the Slovenian; she has a couple of age group world championship crowns, but is still in hot pursuit of that special elite crown.

    "I have won the world championship twice - once as a junior in 2006 and then in the U23 category in 2008. My biggest wish is to win the rainbow jersey in the elite cross country category though, and I'll have the opportunity to try do that in Pietermaritzburg so I'm very excited," said Zakelj.

    The world championships will be the pinnacle of the mountain biking calendar for the year and being at the top of her game will be imperative for Zakelj with a number of equally inspired women coming to Pietermaritzburg with the same goal in mind.

    "There are a number of highly motivated girls and a lot of them have the ability to take the title.

    "One can't count out defending champion Julie Bresset as well as experienced Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa, Maja Wloszczowska and Eva Lechner," the European national champion said.

    Having been involved in two previous events at the Cascades MTB Park, Zakelj should have an idea of what to expect from the course as well as have a good idea of the lay out of the track.

    "I have been to Pietermaritzburg twice - in 2011 and 2012 - and I really enjoyed myself. It is a fantastic course to ride with good organisation and delicious food! Having such friendly people around me made my stay in South Africa very comfortable on both occasions."

    "I do expect the track to be fast and technically demanding with some drops and doubles to jump and other obstacles as it also was for the World Cups in previous years," she said.

    The current European champion heads into the world championships with a number of titles under her belt already this year and will be one of the riders to watch when the show comes to town at the end of August.

    Being able to embrace the surrounding environment and use it in one's favour will be important for all the riders but Zakelj feels she can handle this.

    "It is an interesting course with a good crowd and the loud and enthusiastic spectators always give me a special feeling. To compete in a race with that kind of atmosphere makes it much easier to race past your limits."

    The UCI Mountain Bike World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from August 26 to September 1, 2013.

  • British, German and Belgian teams announced for mountain bike Worlds

    Sabine Spitz (Sabine Spitz Haibike) on her way to winning
    Article published:
    August 3, 2013, 19:50
    Cycling News

    Three weeks to go until Worlds in South Africa

    Great Britain, Germany and Belgium announced their rosters for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships on August 26 to September 1 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    Great Britain will be represented by five British Cycling Programme riders in the cross country event, including Kenta Gallagher who recently took his first World Cup podium when he won gold in the eliminator event in Czech Replublic. Fellow Podium Programme rider and Olympian Annie Last misses out on selection due to recovering from a back injury. Rachel Atherton and brother Gee Atherton have been included in the selection for the downhill, both having had consistent success in the World Cup series this year.

    Germany's cross country team will be led by 2008 Olympic champion and recent Andorra World Cup winner Sabine Spitz and Manuel Fumic.

    Belgium will send riders for the cross country and eliminator events. Kevin Van Hoovels and Githa Michiels will represent in the cross country while Fabrice Mels does the honors in the eliminator.

    British team for 2013 Mountain bike Worlds

    Cross country

    Grant Ferguson (U23 men)
    Kenta Gallagher (U23 men)
    Beth Crumpton (U23 women)
    Michael Thompson (Junior men)
    Alice Barnes (Junior women)

    Gee Atherton (Elite men)
    Danny Hart (Elite men)
    Josh Bryceland (Elite men)
    Greg Williamson (Elite men)
    Steve Peat (Elite men)
    Marc Beaumont (Elite men)
    Matt Simmonds (Elite men)
    Brendan Fairclough (Elite men reserve)
    Bernard Kerr (Elite men reserve)
    Rachel Atherton (Elite women)
    Manon Carpenter (Elite women)
    Fionn Griffiths (Elite women)
    Michael Jones (Junior men)
    Phil Atwill (Junior men)
    Innes Graham (Junior men)
    George Gannicott (Junior men)
    Sam Herd (Junior men)
    Tahnee Seagrave (Junior women)

    German team for 2013 mountain bike Worlds

    Cross country
    Manuel Fumic (Elite men)
    Moritz Milatz (Elite men)
    Wolfram Kurschat (Elite men)
    Simon Gegenheimer (Elite men)
    Martin Gluth (Elite men)
    Andy Eyring (Elite men)
    Sabine Spitz (Elite women)
    Adelheid Morath (Elite women)
    Hanna Klein (Elite women)
    Nadine Rieder (Elitew women)
    Markus Schulte-Lünzum (U23 men)
    Julian Schelb (U23 men)
    Christian Pfäffle (U23 men)
    Martin Gluth (U23 men)
    Helen Grobert (U23 women)
    Lena Putz (U23 women)
    Lukas Baum (junior men)
    Georg Egger (junior men)
    Philipp Bertsch (junior men)
    Luca Schwarzbauer (Junior men)
    Sofia Wiedenroth (Junior women)
    Sarah Bauer (Junior women)

    Simon Gegenheimer (Elite men)
    Martin Gluth (Elite men)
    Andy Eyring (Elite men)
    Nadine Rieder (Elitew women)

    Belgian team for 2013 mountain bike Worlds

    Cross country
    Kevin Van Hoovels (Elite men)
    Githa Michiels (Elite women)
    Didier Bats (U23 men)
    Jeff Luyten (U23 men)
    Ruben Scheire (U23 men)
    Jens Schuermans (U23 men)
    Mathieu Dehaeze (Junior men)

    Fabrice Mels (Elite men)