Champion pair leads formidable Aussie team for MTB world champs

Jongewaard to return to world stage

Reigning world downhill champions Sam Hill and Troy Brosnan headline a 36-strong Australian team which has been selected to compete at the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Switzerland next month.

To be staged from August 31 to September 4, the world's best will vie for the coveted world title at the picturesque Swiss mountain resort of Champéry.

Last year, Australia claimed more gold than any other nation at the world championships in Canada, with Hill (WA- elite downhill), Brosnan (SA - junior downhill) and Caroline Buchanan (ACT- elite four cross) all securing the rainbow jersey. In addition, Queensland's Jared Graves also took silver in the men's elite four cross.

Preparations for the 2011 campaign are looking just as promising with both young gun Brosnan, and 2009 world champion Graves leading the current 2011 UCI World Cup standings in their respective events.

With the London 2012 Olympic Games just one year away, much of the attention will also be focused on the cross country riders, with Chris Jongewaard leading the Australian charge.

The 32-year-old Adelaide-based rider has endured a tumultuous couple of years but made an impressive return to the elite mountain biking scene over the Australian summer collecting both national championship and national series crowns.

Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) sport director Chris Clarke, said that although the selected squad was younger than in previous years with an average age of 21, he is confident the team is ready to perform on the big stage.

"It is certainly a younger team and in some ways it signals a changing of the guard in Australian mountain biking," said Clarke.

"The team we've selected this year is smaller than in previous years, but it is a high quality team which is capable of delivering significant results.

"Our elite downhillers will provide strong medal hopes and we have great depth in our junior downhill team, depth which we haven't seen in Australia for a long time.

"Our four cross team is a small but strong contingent, and our cross country riders are extremely well prepared this year and have responded to the high standards set by our head coaches."

Riders will finalise their preparations for Champéry during the final three rounds of the 2011 UCI World Cup next month:

August 6 to 7: La Bresse, France - downhill
August 13 to 14: Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech – cross country
August 20 to 21: Val di Sole, Italy – cross country, downhill and four cross

Australian National Team for the 2011 Mountain Bike World Championships

Cross country
Elite men: Chris Jongewaard, Daniel McConnell, Lachlan Norris
Elite women: Katherine O'Shea
Under 23 men: Michael Crosbie, Trenton Day, Cameron Ivory, Paul Van Der Ploeg, Kyle Ward
Under 23 women: Rebecca Henderson
Under 19 men: Chris Aitkin, Jack Haig, Daniel McDonald, Alexander Meyland, Billy Sewell

Downhill
Elite men: Josh Button, Michael Hannah, Sam Hill, Shaun O'Connor, Rhys Willemse
Elite women: Leonie Picton
Junior men: Troy Brosnan, Connor Fearon, David McMillan, Phillip Piazzo, Benjamin Power, Joseph Vejvoda, Brendon Yrttiaho

Four cross
Elite men: Jared Graves, Richard Levinson, Graeme Mudd

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