By Luke Webber in Fort William
Rain and Scotland are synonymous with each other – if it's missing you'd feel short changed! But miracles can happen, and this weekend with a flawless forecast it looks as though Fort William – known for its wet and wild conditions – will instead by a dry and dusty race for all three disciplines with some riders even hoping for rain.
Such hopes however have nothing to do with dampening down the course, because in dry, warm weather on the open ranges of Ben Nevis, midges thrive. These small biting flies get everywhere and should the forecast be correct, expect a rush for mosquito nets (although we're not sure they'll be popular with the riders).
The XC loop is the same as that used in last year's World Championships. Starting with a long climb on smooth doubletrack, this is the place where the race will be won. Unfortunately, last years winner and current World Cup leader Julien Absalon will not be present, preferring instead to rest at home before the World Championships in just three weeks time.
This will produce another unpredictable race as seen in Andorra where an out-of-sorts Absalon meant those bold enough to attack would be rewarded with career-best results. One such rider was Burry Stander who will be hoping to hang on to the form of his life. Finishing second behind Christoph Sauser was no fluke, but it would take an incredible performance to beat the man who won in Andorra on another hilly lap.
For the women there is scheduled to be a return for all the top riders including Gunn Rita Dahle Flesja, Sabine Spitz and Irina Kalentieva who captured the World Champions' jersey here just nine months ago.
Continue to the rest of the preview.