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Gallery: Racers excited about cross country mountain bike Worlds course

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Hafjell has given the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships a warm welcome.

Hafjell has given the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships a warm welcome.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Nino Schurter (Switzerland) on the final lap

Nino Schurter (Switzerland) on the final lap
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Catharine Pendrel (France)

Catharine Pendrel (France)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Rebecca Henderson (Australia)

Rebecca Henderson (Australia)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Marc Andre Fortier (Canada)

Marc Andre Fortier (Canada)
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Even the local school children have gotten excited about the Worlds visiting their town.

Even the local school children have gotten excited about the Worlds visiting their town.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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This is how kids in Hafjell get to school.

This is how kids in Hafjell get to school.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A US Team rider practices The Gully with advice from a coach

A US Team rider practices The Gully with advice from a coach
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Sabine Spitz had several spotters on hand to help her figure out how to ride The Gully

Sabine Spitz had several spotters on hand to help her figure out how to ride The Gully
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Anton Cooper barely slowed down as he flew on through The Gully

Anton Cooper barely slowed down as he flew on through The Gully
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A rider practices during training

A rider practices during training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The views from the course in Hafjell are lovely

The views from the course in Hafjell are lovely
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A look down onto the tech zone, which riders pass twice per lap

A look down onto the tech zone, which riders pass twice per lap
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A Dutch rider nails a berm

A Dutch rider nails a berm
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A Beligan rider on a berm

A Beligan rider on a berm
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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There are plenty of rocky sections here and there - some more than others

There are plenty of rocky sections here and there - some more than others
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Jose Hermida on course training

Jose Hermida on course training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Keegan Swenson flies down a rocky trail

Keegan Swenson flies down a rocky trail
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Anton Cooper speeds effortlessly through a technical downhill

Anton Cooper speeds effortlessly through a technical downhill
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The French team in training

The French team in training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A Canadian rider climbs the open, grassy switchbacks.

A Canadian rider climbs the open, grassy switchbacks.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Stephen Ettinger leads another US rider on an open switchback climb

Stephen Ettinger leads another US rider on an open switchback climb
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A Swiss rider out on course

A Swiss rider out on course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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There are mushrooms out on course

There are mushrooms out on course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A rider in training

A rider in training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Kohei Yamamoto (Japan) in training

Kohei Yamamoto (Japan) in training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Riders pass the tech zone

Riders pass the tech zone
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A South African rider goes through a rock garden

A South African rider goes through a rock garden
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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An American rider dials in his lines

An American rider dials in his lines
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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This Dutch rider catches air shortly before he crashes.

This Dutch rider catches air shortly before he crashes.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Plenty of rocks. Can you find your line through this?

Plenty of rocks. Can you find your line through this?
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Many riders walked the Rock and Ride Section and some were overheard to say they will run it during the race.

Many riders walked the Rock and Ride Section and some were overheard to say they will run it during the race.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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This Belgian rider finds his mojo in the rocks

This Belgian rider finds his mojo in the rocks
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Russell Finsterwald practices the rocks

Russell Finsterwald practices the rocks
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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There was a bit of a traffic jam in this rock garden as riders kept going back to try to find the perfect line

There was a bit of a traffic jam in this rock garden as riders kept going back to try to find the perfect line
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Two Dutch riders race each other through competing lines

Two Dutch riders race each other through competing lines
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Riders in training. Many sections have a lot of roots.

Riders in training. Many sections have a lot of roots.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Riders assess one of the technical, uphill rock garden sections

Riders assess one of the technical, uphill rock garden sections
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Marco Fontana in training

Marco Fontana in training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Jaroslav Kulhavy made this uphill rock garden look easy compared to the other riders we saw attempt it

Jaroslav Kulhavy made this uphill rock garden look easy compared to the other riders we saw attempt it
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Racers won't have time to enjoy the mountains, but there are some good views out on course

Racers won't have time to enjoy the mountains, but there are some good views out on course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A Norwegian rider prepares to race on his home course

A Norwegian rider prepares to race on his home course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Italian riders in training

Italian riders in training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A Slovenian uses finesse to find his line through this section

A Slovenian uses finesse to find his line through this section
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Dog Forest is one of the named sections on course

Dog Forest is one of the named sections on course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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An Australian rider checks out the course

An Australian rider checks out the course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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A French rider on a straightforward climbing section

A French rider on a straightforward climbing section
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Two American riders in training

Two American riders in training
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Todd Wells is racing his 16th mountain bike world championships

Todd Wells is racing his 16th mountain bike world championships
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The Czech riders out on course

The Czech riders out on course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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Canadian riders out on course

Canadian riders out on course
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)
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The finish of the downhill was still being set up in Hafjell.

The finish of the downhill was still being set up in Hafjell.
(Image credit: Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor)

Many of the top riders at the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway have previously ridden and raced the cross country course at World Cup rounds, but familiarity didn't stop them from spilling forth with enthusiastic praise for the course.

"I love this course," said US Cross Country National Champion Lea Davison after helping her team to fourth place in Wednesday's team relay. "I think this course is the perfect blend. It's challenging in all aspects. It's very technical in sections and you come into them after long, hard climbs. It will warrant a proper world champion."

Her US teammate Todd Wells, the reigning elite men's cross country national champion, said, "It's a good course. I got here on Friday, so it's changed a lot since then. Normally at past World Cups, there are only technical downhills, but here it's cool because we also have technical uphills and not just technical downhills."

Wells is racing his 16th mountain bike world championships. He's done every edition since 2001 and two in the 1990s.

After racing a lap around it and helping his French team win the team relay, Maxime Marotte said, "You had to be very focused the whole time. It's important, especially on the first climb, which is slippery with the roots and rocks. It's also important to concentrate on the downhills because if you make a mistake, your race is over and you are in the hospital."

The course features many different, constantly changing lines and Marotte said it was important to be flexible on line choices. "The lines changed a lot from the riders before me. If the riders who are in front of me kick up rocks in my way, I have to adjust my line on the fly."

American rider Russell Finsterwald was also psyched about the course after some pre-riding on Tuesday.

"The course is good - there's lots of fun stuff out here," he said. "It's different than your typical World Cup - there are lots of tricky uphills. I think they will be a deciding factor in the race."

"There's a bit of everything out there. This is a course where you need to spend more time than normal checking out your lines. You can make up time, for example, in the jumps, but there can be problems when cross country racers try to jump."

Under 23 rider Howard Grotts said, "The course is a good one. It's a total mountain bike course. It's got a variety of climbs - some long, some short and fast and a really steep one at the end. The descents always keep you on your game because there are a lot of lines to chose from out there."

"I don't think the course is more technical than some we ride, but it's the Worlds so everyone wants to have the perfect line. There's really only one technical feature that needs some confidence before dropping into it. That's the second to last rock diagonal downhill."

The forecast is for dry conditions, but the course is challenging even when dry, according to Wells, and it would be extra difficult should it get wet.

The elite men will race seven laps of the 4.1km course while the elite women will do six laps. Other categories race fewer laps with the junior women doing the least at four laps.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the cross country races on Thursday (juniors), Friday (under 23s) and Saturday (elites). The downhill racers get their turn on Sunday.