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No Rachel Atherton for downhill mountain bike worlds

Rachel Atherton (Animal Commencal)

Rachel Atherton (Animal Commencal) (Image credit: Mark Gunter)

What a difference a year makes. In 2008, Rachel Atherton (Animal Commencal) stood atop the podium at the downhill world championships in Italy. This year, she's sat out an entire season while her shoulder heals following a collision with a pick up truck early in 2009 during training. Atherton will not defend her world championship title.

"After much deliberation, and possibly some tears on my part, the decision has been reached that I will not race this year," said Atherton on her blog animalcommencal.tv/rachel/blog/. "Believe me when I say the decision was not come by lightly, nor happily, but I feel that to push things too far, too soon could well ruin next year for me."

She underwent surgery in May. Her shoulder is still too unstable for racing as she needs more time to build up the supporting muscles.

"I'm not ashamed to admit I want it all. The taste was tasted in 2008, and I liked it," said Atherton, who has been training on a bike regularly for six weeks already and is looking ahead. "2009 was a bit sour, but 2010, (and let us not forget beyond!) has all the ingredients and more secret weapons than you can shake a stick at! Game on."

Atherton fans can follow the family online with the latest reality tv-type episode (number 7).

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.