Canada's mountain bikers are ready for another top notch season, headlined by the 2012 UCI World Cup Tour, 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
After a series of three training camps held in January and February in Palm Springs, California, and Victoria, British Columbia, the Canadian Mountain Bike Team is ready to shine once more on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Tour and at the 2012 Olympic Games.
In terms of the Olympic qualification process, Canada is currently sitting in first place of the women's UCI Olympic Ranking, while the men are ranked in ninth place.
For the men, nations ranked first through fifth (1-5) will receive three spots, while nations ranked sixth to 13th (6-13) will bring two riders in London. For the women, the top eight nations will bring two riders to the Olympic start line.
Dan Proulx, Head Coach of the Canadian Mountain Bike Team, has high expectations for the team this season, and feels confident of its potential heading into the season.
"The team is definitely getting a lot stronger. They have been really working hard and training well together. We've been deliberately flying under the radar in terms of talking about our winter preparation program. It's about getting the work done," said Proulx. "There has been a lot of riding on terrain that is specific to the London course. We've also done a lot of mental preparation and rehearsal for the Games. We've been stressing all along that the Olympics are about grit, determination and hard work. We're not expecting this to be easy."
The current World Champion in women's cross country, Catharine Pendrel (Team Luna Pro) is excited for the season and acknowledged the support from partners of the Canadian Cycling Association. "Thanks to the support of Own The Podium, the Canadian Mountain Bike Team has been able to log some great training this winter. With both our road and mountain bikes in tow, our goal has been to strengthen our already strong team on and off the bike. Everyone is looking great and excited for all the competitive challenges of this Olympic season!"
Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox Racing Team), Olympian and seven-time Canadian Champion, was pleased with the atmosphere at the camps. "The camaraderie and atmosphere amongst the Canadian Mountain Bike Team has been building for several years now. Coming into the 2012 Olympic year, the confidence, support, and momentum behind the team seems to be at an all-time high. Every time we get together I feel like we are building the foundation needed and moving one step closer towards our Olympic goals."
The 2012 elite mountain bike season kicks off with a World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa from March 17-18. A month later, April 13-15, the UCI World Cup Tour will move to Houffalize in Belgium. Then, the world's top mountain bikers will battle it out for the remaining two World Cups part of the Olympic qualifying period in Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic and La Bresse, France in May.
June will feature the North American leg of the tour, featuring Olympic-nominated athletes embarking on their final preparations as they participate in the World Cup races in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec and Windham, New York. In late July, the World's top riders will go head-to-head for the final time before the Olympic Games, racing in Val d'Isère, France.
The Olympic mountain bike races are scheduled for August 11 for the women and August 12 for the men.