London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking

Annie Last at Houffalize

Annie Last

  • Age: 21
  • Nationality: British
  • Team: Milka Brentjens MTB Race Team
  • Best results: 2nd under-23 women World Championships 2011 Champery
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 13

She says: “The Olympics is going to be amazing, especially because it’s Britain. It’s a chance for the sport to be seen by the whole public, so I think that it’s a really good opportunity to get more people involved.

I’ve had to work hard to qualify for the Games, so to start with I’ve had to be able to perform at races all the way through the year. Some people, who have got their places confirmed already, have been able to take the year quite differently and do everything to be in absolutely peak form for the Olympics, whereas I’ve had to perform all year. I’m only 21, so I’m still quite young, and I still feel like I’ve got a lot of developing to do as a bike rider and an athlete.

I think that it’s a really good course. It’s a man-made course but it’s made really well and it’s really tough. There are a lot of technical sections so there are loads of opportunities for people to make mistakes on the course. The best rider is going to be the one who wins.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking

Annie Last's Boardman B56

 

  • Bike: Boardman B56 (based on the EM1.7)
  • Frame: High modulus carbon fibre monocoque
  • Fork: RockShox SID World Cup, 100mm travel, with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX, 20-speed or 10-speed depending on set-up
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Specialized Roval carbon, 26in
  • Weight (approx): 21lbs

She says: “I’ll be riding my Boardman B56. It’s a 26in wheel hardtail. I’ve not really ridden 29ers that much, but I’m not really that tall and 26in feels like it handles a lot better, especially around a course like the Olympic one. It’s technical and you need to be able to corner quickly and zip out of them, so I think the 26in is good and hardtail as well. I should be able to have the riding ability and the strength to ride the hardtail well for an hour and a half.”

 

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Maja Wloszczowska

Maja Wloszczowska shreds her Scott

Maja Wloszczowska

  • Age: 28
  • Nationality: Polish
  • Team: CCC Polsat Polkowice
  • Best results: Olympic Games Beijing 2008 2nd, World Championships 2010 Mont Saint-Anne 1st
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 3

She says: “I have been to the Olympic Games twice; in Athens and Beijing. In Athens I got sixth and in Beijing a silver medal. So I have some experience already.

For my team, my nation, the Olympics are definitely the best race to win and I think for the riders it’s something really special. It’s only one race in four years and something that stays with your name for your whole life.

My main competition will be Catharine Pendrel and Julie Bresset. I think they are the most dangerous girls in London. But there are many girls that can reach the podium or even win. Maybe Gunn-Rita as well; I think she can surprise everybody.

I didn’t take part in test event, but we’ve been there on the official training. I think the course is ok. It’s a little bit different to the World Cup courses, but it is tough, it is technical, it’s very fast, for sure. There’s no place to rest and I think a lot of riders will be together in a big group, so it will be, for sure, a very interesting race for spectators and TV.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking

Maja's Scott Scale 29er

 

  • Bike: Scott Scale 29er
  • Frame: High modulus carbon fibre
  • Fork: DT Swiss XMM-100, 100mm travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR, 20-speed or 10-speed depending on set-up
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR
  • Wheels: Shimano, 29in
  • Weight (approx): 20lbs

She says: “I will ride my Scott Scale 29er hardtail. I hope it will be a little bit lighter for the Olympics and I’m still thinking about single ring at the front maybe.”

 

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Catharine Pendrel

Catharine Pendrel is a firm favourite

Catharine Pendrel

  • Age: 31
  • Nationality: Canadian
  • Team: Team Luna Chix
  • Best results: World Championships Champery 2011 1st
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 2

She says: “The Olympics is the ultimate race for a mountain biker. To win a medal would be something phenomenal. It is the one event that has the greatest reach into the general public, so it’s definitely the one where you can get the most recognition for what you do in your sport. That being said, I think in order to be the best at the Olympics you have to use these Worlds Cups here as your spring board.

There will be people that won’t handle the pressure as well or have mechanicals because they’re taking risks with their equipment trying to get the lightest, fastest bikes. So there will be both disappointments and phenomenal rides. It’s amazing what people can do when they’re inspired. Like myself in Beijing in 2008; to finish fourth there was unbelievable for me at the time.

I have to look out for Julie Bresset and Maja Wloszczowska. Julie is the under-23 World Champion, Maja was the World Champion in 2010, so they know how to get it done on the big day and they’re very talented women. I’m sure they’ll be some surprises too, we’ve got Gunn-Rita Dahle, a former champion who’s coming back into form…

I rode the test event there last year, and it was great for Team Luna because it was myself followed by Georgia Gould in first and second. I think it’s a good course, it’s going to be really challenging. The start will be critical. It will suit me, but I think to be the best in the world you have to be good on any course.”

 

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking

Pendrel's Orbea gets electronic suspension lockout

  • Bike: Orbea Alma
  • Frame: Monocoque carbon fibre
  • Fork: Fox 32 Float 100, 100mm travel with electronic lock-out
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR, 20-speed or 10-speed depending on set-up
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR
  • Wheels: Mavic Crossmax SLR, 26in
  • Weight (approx): 20.5lbs

She says: “I’ll ride my 26in hardtail. I’m just really comfortable on my Orbea; it’s the bike for me. I’ve spent some time on a 29er, which are definitely pretty trendy these days, but for my riding style and my size I’m really comfortable on the 26in.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Eva Lechner

Eva Lechner

Eva Lechner

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Team: Colnago Sudtirol
  • Best results: World Championships 2011 Champery 3rd
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 17

She says: “The Olympics are the best race to win for me. They are only every four years, and if you win it’s different to the World Champs. Everybody is watching it on TV and everybody’s looking, so it’s a big thing.

The Olympic course is really fast, but also really technical. They did a good job. And it’s really amazing for the people to watch, because from one point you see almost the whole race. So it’s going to be a good show I think.

My biggest competition will be Julie Bresset, World Champion Catharine Pendrel, Maja Wloszczowska and Irina Kalentieva. There are a lot of good girls!”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Eva's Colnago

Eva's Colnago

 

  • Bike: Colnago Twenty IX
  • Frame: Hydroformed 6000 series aluminium
  • Fork: DT Swiss XMM-100, 100mm travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR, 20-speed or 10-speed depending on set-up
  • Brakes: Shimano XTR
  • Wheels: Shimano, 29in
  • Weight (approx): NA

She says: “I’ll ride the 29er hardtail at the Olympics. But I will have a new carbon frame for the Olympics.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa is going for her second Olympic medal

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa

  • Age: 39
  • Nationality: Norwegian
  • Team: Multivan Merida
  • Best results: Olympic Games Athens 2004 1st, 4x World Champion 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 4

She says: “I have been building up step by step through the season. If I am in good shape I can win races on any type of course. That’s still what I believe in when I look at important races. I think if I had to choose between the Olympic gold and the rainbow jersey (World Champion), I think I would go for Olympic Gold.

I believe my main competitors will be Maja Wloszczowska and the reigning World Champion at the moment Catharine Pendrel.

I heard a lot of stories about the course – it’s not technical and it’s flat – but I was positively surprised. It’s all about speed and it’s power and that suits me well, so I like it and I look forward to racing there.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa

Big wheels for Gunn-Rita

 

  • Bike: Merida Big 9 Carbon
  • Frame: Carbon fibre
  • Fork: DT Swiss XMM-100, 100mm travel with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: SRAM XX, 20-speed with Gripshift
  • Brakes: SRAM XX
  • Wheels: Alex XCR, 29in
  • Weight (approx): 20lbs

She says: “I will be racing on the Merida Big 9 Carbon 29er; that’s the bike for me. I have been on the Big 9 for the whole winter but I didn’t start off in the first World Cup on it; I didn’t feel I had a super position. I got a new stem and now I feel it’s the dream bike for sure. It took me some more time than other riders, but I’ve been a long time in this game so it’s hard to change the old ones!”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Julie Bresset

Julie Bresset is another hot favourite

Julie Bresset

  • Age: 23
  • Nationality: French
  • Team: BH/SR Suntour/Peisey Vallandry
  • Best results: World Championships under 23 2011 Champery 1st, World Cup overall 2011 1st
  • World Ranking (as of 7/6/12): 1

She says: “The Olympics are my target for this year. It is just every four years. So for me it’s very important to compete at the Olympic games. It will be my first time, so I make all the effort to be fit.

The track is very different to the World Cup. It is very artificial, very fast and not very technical but the technical sections are very fast. It is very wide and there is a lot of wind, so maybe there will be some team tactics.

There are a lot of dangerous riders! Catharine Pendrel is very strong, Maja Wloszczowska is always prepared for the one-day events. These two riders are most dangerous.”

London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Julie Bresset

Bresset's BH Ultimate

 

  • Bike: BH Ultimate
  • Frame: Carbon fibre
  • Fork: SR Suntour Axon RC, 80/100mm travel with remote lockout
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XTR/FSA, 20-speed with Gripshift
  • Brakes: Magura MT8
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XRC, 26in
  • Weight (approx): 19lbs

She says: “I will ride my BH Ultimate at the Olympics. It’s a 26in hardtail and the same bike I ride in all the World Cup races.”

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