Monkeys give McConnell a scare in Pietermaritzburg

A tribe of monkeys gave reason for Australian for Australian Daniel McConnell to ask serious questions about his UCI Mountain Bike World Championship campaign, but the World Cup winner will be ready to compete come Saturday.

A training ride near the Pietermaritzburg came to an abrupt halt last week when the eager locals forced McConnell to crash. The 28-year-old was left with considerable grazing on both hands, and a bruised shoulder.

"For a while I didn't think I would start, but now I am, I am going to give it everything," McConnell said who will be ready for the elite men's cross-country race.

McConnell made history earlier in the season, the first Australian since Cadel Evans in 2000 to win a round of the World Cup when he took out the opening round in Albstadt, Germany. His current position of third overall in the World Cup rankings was cemented when he finished fifth in Mont-Sainte-Anne this month.

"It has been a bit of a dream season, the World Cup win in Albstadt was unexpected, I had only had the one top twenty finish coming into the season and have now been on the podium twice and a sixth place too, so the consistency is there," he explained.

"I would love to think winning is a possibility here, but it hasn't been the smoothest lead into the race, but on the other side, I have also had some really good training leading in."

McConnell had a few days of rest following his accident and is ready to race, both mentally and physically.

"The body is okay on the course, I have a fair bit of skin off, but I have got a few laps in now and am starting to feel very confident on the course."

Should McConnell's stellar season continue, it's no surprise that he lists Switzerland's defending champion Nino Schurter and four-time world champion, Frenchman Julien Absalon as his biggest threats. The Pietermaritzburg course will also have a say in proceedings.

"The course is hard, so you're going to have to be on your game on Saturday," McConnell said. "There is a fair bit of climbing, nothing too steep, so a little bit of rain would be good.

"It is going to be interesting to see what the weather does as even just day to day and its getting really chopped up, you can see all the lines forming and ruts appearing.

"Hopefully I will be still in the mix and well inside the top ten in the final stages."

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