As the showcase mountain biking event of the year draws ever closer, final preparations are being put in place by organisers and riders alike and Spanish national men's cross country champion Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) is adding his final few touches to his preparations before he heads to Pietermaritzburg for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships starting on August 26.
The Multivan Merida rider has had an up and down season so far in 2013, but looks to be hitting his straps after he recorded a second place finish in the most recent UCI World Cup event held in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada. The result will be a good confidence booster ahead of the premier event of the 2013 mountain biking calendar.
"My preparation has been going well leading up to Worlds and my second place at Mont-Sainte-Anne was important in helping me get ready," the current world ranked number eight said.
"I am pretty happy with the shape that I am in at the moment, but I do still think that I can improve a bit before the Worlds, but we will see."
Hermida has been to Pietermaritzburg on a few previous occasions. He won the World Cup event that was held there in 2009. Then, he had mechanical issues at the World Cup leg there last year and so will be looking to avoid these this time around and give himself the best possible chance of regaining the world championship crown that he won in 2010.
"Last year, I really didn't have a good race in Pietermaritzburg, I had some small problems that didn't help me," said Hermida.
"I couldn't repeat my good results that I achieved in 2009 and 2011, but if all goes well this year I really think I have a good chance because I really like the course there," the former world champion added.
The course and a number of its features, such as the rock gardens, are elements that most of the riders look out for but Hermida Ramos sees the weather as another issue that could pose a problem for the riders when they get to Africa's "Bike City".
"There are some really technical sections on the course that keep us guessing the whole way through but for us 'European' riders, the heat and the humidity are problems that I find we battle with a bit more in Pietermaritzburg because we don't have it quite as bad back home as it is in South Africa," said Hermida.
The veteran Spanish rider understands the pressures of representing your country and knows what is expected of him in such an important event as the numerous younger riders in the field snap at his heels.
"Representing Spain is something that I love doing and I know that there are a lot of people that are relying on me which does add pressure, but I hope my experience will help me deal with that pressure."
"There are so many good riders out there that add to the pressure - the young guns like Nino Schurter and Marco Fontana as well as Julien Absalon and my teammate Ondrej Cink are all really strong riders and will all have something to say at Worlds," the 35-year-old said.
It seems like it is going to be a fairly quick stop in South Africa for Hermida, who is needed in other parts of the world after the event and the experienced campaigner is a little disappointed he cannot stay for longer in a country that he enjoys.
"I won't have any family joining me in South Africa because after the Worlds, my team and I have other appointments.
"I really do enjoy coming to South Africa because every time I have been there the people have been so friendly and have made me feel so welcome so I really am looking forward to being back there," said Hermida, who has previously also competed at the Cape Epic stage race.