The defending women's cross country world champion Julie Bresset (BH-SR Suntour-KMC) has had a tough season this year with a serious injury putting a halt to her World Cup season, but the French rider has been working hard to get back into championship form ahead of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa from August 26 to September 1.
The injury that Bresset picked up has been the major issue for her this year, but she is on the comeback trail having claimed the French national title in July. A 10th place in the last round of the World Cup in Andorra was her last result which suggests she is still heading back towards her best form.
"This season has been very difficult for me," the Olympic champion said.
"I broke my collarbone before the World Cup at the beginning of the season, and it's been really hard to get back in my best form quickly.
"This season has not been what I expected after such a good year last year," she said.
2012 was a great year for the French national champion who won the UCI Mountain Bike World Championship as well as the Olympic gold medal in the cross country. 2013 has not gone as smoothly, but that has not changed her goals for the world championships.
"I want to be in a good shape for the competition," she said. "At the Worlds, the rainbow jersey is at stake, you only have one shot and you can wear it for a whole year if you win!" she said.
There have been a number of solid performers in the women's cross country field this year, and Bresset is wary of the threat that these ladies will pose her. An event like the world championship means that the riders have just one day to perform.
"Tanja Zakelj has really dominated the World Cup events this year and Maja Wloszczowska and Catharine Pendrel have already won a World title which means that they know how to prepare and what it takes to win. But it's a one day race, and all riders will be strong!"
The Cascades MTB Park venue for Worlds is not completely foreign for Bresset, and she has enjoyed her time in Pietermaritzburg. She only managed to come fifth in the World Cup that was held in Pietermaritzburg last year, but she still feels that it is a course that she has fun riding.
"I have some good memories of the course in Pietermaritzburg. It is a fun track with some impressive technical parts which are going to be a challenge," she said.
"I will have to focus hard on the rocky parts of the course and that is what I am going to do during my technical training."
The local support is something that Bresset is going to have to rely on when she is on the track because she will not be joined by any of her home support because of the length of the trip down to South Africa.
"My friends and family will be watching and cheering on from home because it is too far for them to travel, but I am sure that the Pietermaritzburg support will be great for me and help me out," she said.