Past Champery winner Schneitter eager to race Worlds at home

Switzerland's Nathalie Schneitter is looking forward to racing the elite women's cross country world championship race on home soil on Saturday in Champery. After winning the World Cup cross country round last year on a similar course at the same venue, she is among the favorites to win a medal.

"When I got here on Monday, lots of nice memories were coming up, but I know it's a new race, and I will have to fight very hard to win a medal," the 25-year-old Schneitter told Cyclingnews.

Schneitter was part of Switzerland's silver-medal winning team relay on Wednesday afternoon. The team was hoping to defend its gold from last year, but instead won silver.

"I was quite nervous to race here again, and I think the Swiss guys were, too. We had a young relay team, and it's our home world championships.

"Gold would have been nice and we dreamed of it, but silver is nice, too," she said. "It's my first medal at Worlds." Schneitter was a member of the team relay once previously , two years ago, when the squad took fifth place.

Looking ahead to Saturday's cross country race, Schneitter should go well given her fast lap time in the team relay relative to the other women. Sure, Catharine Pendrel (Canada) and Julie Bresset (France) put in faster times, but that was expected given that they have been stronger all season, and World Cup overall winner Bresset will be in the U23 women's race instead of the elite women's race.

"I feel like I'm in good shape. I just need a good start and a bit of luck and the power of all the Swiss fans cheering along the course," said Schneitter.

"Of course, there is some pressure, but it's not a bad thing. For me, I like the extra pressure. My fan club is coming with 80 to 100 people and a lot of people will be in red and white shirts cheering for me. Everyone is looking forward to a great race and with a little luck, it could be a good result for me, too."

Schneitter, who lives 190km away in Solothurn, said she likes to race in Champery because the just over 4km course is technical and she shared part of her strategy. "It's important not to go over the limit because the downhills are so difficult. You have to have a clear head to do well on the downhills and technical sections."

The young Swiss racer named Pendrel as her pick for the win. "Catharine is a good technical rider and a strong climber, so I think she is number one, but I will try to make it very hard for her to win and we'll see."

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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.