When former world champion and Polish women's cross country mountain biking national champion Maja Wloszczowska takes to Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, which will take place from August 26 to September 1, it will be a reappearance at the venue she remembers fondly after her 2012 UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg heroics.
2013 has been a memorable year for the world number four, who has climbed up the rankings substantially over the past 12 months. Wloszczowska has been close to the top of the sport throughout the year, but is still to break through the second place barrier that she has occupied on a few occasions throughout the year, including at the most recent leg of the UCI World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, and claim her first win of the season.
"It was so close again in Canada!" the Giant Pro XC Team rider said.
"That was my third second place this year at the World Cup, but it's still great because I was hesitant on whether I was going to go to Canada or not with the time zone changes and a lot of travelling making my preparations for Worlds a little bit more complicated."
"I decided not to be a coward and fight for everything, so it was definitely worth going and it has helped because I'm happy with my form and with two more weeks of training before Worlds I'm confident I will be ready to go."
Winning in Pietermaritzburg last year has meant that the Pietermaritzburg track has stuck with Wloszczowska with victory only having further boosted her already visible fondness of the course.
"Usually when you are strong and especially when you win - you like the course - but, actually, I liked it already before my victory there last year.
"It is a super cool track to ride on, and the uphills are long enough and not too steep to get into the rhythm which is what I like and then some are short but it is possible to ride on a big ring that gives you a pleasant feeling of power.
"The downhills are amazing and the singletracks in the forest give the course a nice flow.
"The rock garden, dropoffs and wooden section increase the adrenaline levels, and I'm really excited to ride on this course again," the Warsaw resident said.
Wloszczowska is coming to the world champs with one goal in mind - to better her second positions this year and what better arena to do it in than the world champs. Despite having been a world champion once before, it is the tough times that the talented cross country star remembers the most and will look to draw on for extra motivation ahead of this year's encounter.
"I am going to Pietermaritzburg to win the event that I won in 2010!
2010 was amazing, but I've also had some tough world champs where I didn't compete, such as 2009 and 2012, and then had to work hard to keep my second place in 2011 when I had a flat tyre.
"There are about 10 women that could easily be on the podium and I know that it is not going to be an easy race - but who ever said it was going to be easy," the 29-year-old said light-heartedly.
The South African leg of the cross country MTB circuit seems to be a hit with a lot of the riders and for Wloszczowska it is no different. The Polish star is incredibly excited for her trip to South Africa but will miss out on the attractions due to the quick turnaround time between the PMB-based spectacle and the final cross country leg of the World Cup in Norway.
"I am really looking forward to returning to South Africa because I have wonderful memories of the country from last year.
"Unfortunately for us we won't be able to stick around for too long and do the touristy stuff because of our trip to Norway, but it is always nice to experience a different culture and eat some good African food - even if it is only for a week," Wloszczowska said.
Wloszczowska has taken a rather philosophical approach to the world championships and has not put a lot of pressure on herself. Being a world champion again is something that she hopes to achieve but for her it is not the be-all-and-end-all.
"Usually I'm the person who puts the biggest pressure on myself, but I have achieved a lot already and I do not have any need to prove anything to anybody.
"I dream about becoming world champion again, and I know that I can do that but I do not have to," said a more relaxed Wloszczowska.
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