Frenchman Julien Absalon, currently the biggest name in cross-country mountain bike racing, has confirmed his participation in the opening round of the 2009 UCI World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Absalon joins the current men's cross country world champion, Christoph Sauser, of Switzerland, and the women's cross country world champion, Margarita Fullana, of Spain, on the start list in what will be the most prestigious international cycling event ever held in South Africa.
Absalon has been the dominant cross-country racer at major events over the past few years, having claimed 17 World Cup victories, four consecutive world titles (2004-2007) and the gold medals at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. He has also been the overall winner of the World Cup Series four times in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The 28-year-old Frenchman, who races for the Orbea international team, has stated that his goals for 2009 are to win a fifth overall World Cup title and a fifth world championship. He is already the record holder for number of victories in both competitions.
The World Cup, which incorporates the cross country, downhill and 4X disciplines, will take place in Pietermaritzburg from April 10-12.