With the Val di Sole world cup fresh in our minds, here's MBR's points of interest ahead of the world championships in Andorra
With the world cup overall finished in Val di Sole this weekend, the sports biggest and best will now turn their attention to the final hurrah of the mountain biking season: the World Championships in Vallnord, Andorra.
The 2014 world championships made up some of the most exciting racing of the year. Josh Bryceland looked set to take to the title until he came undone by over sending the final bridge just metres from the finish and nastily breaking his foot.
Likewise Sam Hill’s dramatic crash in the rock section marred his chances of the winning. Meanwhile, Manon Carpenter continued her fine run of form, winning the women’s title, becoming both World Champ and World Cup Champion.
With the World Cup overall tied up in Val Di Sole, here’s MBR’s predictions and points of note for the World Championships on Sunday 6th September.
Gwin it to win it
It is a matter of fact that Aaron Gwin will be in it to win. Every time he been on a bike this season he has looked absolutely formidable. From the very beginning of the season in Lourdes he has looked on the money and taking the win in Val Di Sole seems to cement the feeling that he is unbeatable.
Gwin won the world cup overall in Val Di Sole and won the race by 1.5 seconds over French man Loic Bruni. He also beat Greg Minnaar, his closest competitor in the overall competition.
Brittania rules the world (champs)
Britain is going into the World Champs with a hugely competitive team in both the female and male competitions, filled with riders who have time and again proved they deserve a spot in the squad. Rachel Atherton, Tahnee Seagrave, Manon Carpenter and Katy Curd will all be vying for the top spot in the women’s race.
The male team, headed by current world champion Gee Atherton, consists of the likes of Josh Bryceland, Danny Hart as well as Brendan Fairclough and Bernard Kerr. Whilst Bryceland has had an injury afflicted season he returns fit for world champs to vanquish his demons from 2014.
Brendan Fairclough has had a stormer of a season, finishing just outside the top ten whilst Bernard Kerr was recently named the Crankworx king; performing consistently the best at the Crankworx events. Here he is tearing up Queenstown before the season began:
Loic Bruni has been looking on form for two seasons now but has been unable to get it right at every world cup weekend. Coming second in Val di Sole will only increase his drive for the coveted World Champs top spot and he has the form to take it, he just needs to piece together the run.
Likewise, his team mate and wildcard Loris Vergier has come to form in the last two rounds, dominating in Windham and taking 3rd whilst placing the very respectable 7th in Val di Sole.
Flat pedal thunder
It’s been no secret that after suffering a nasty shoulder injury in the first round of the world cup at Lourdes Sam Hill has set his sights on the world champs, focussing on his recovery through the rest of the season.
He returned to racing in Lenzerheide, but has kept things in check, building back the strength lost due to injury. We can expect to see him open the throttle a little more in Andorra, perhaps bringing out the flat pedal thunder we know from previous seasons. Here he comes so close to taking the 2008 out world champs, being fastest by far until coming unstuck in the final corner of Val di Sole:
Expect the continued dominance of Rachel Atherton
Rachel has looked truly dominant this season, returning to form after last years complicated season and winning the overall in qualifying at the Windham world cup, with a race still in hand.
Atherton could well be standing on the top step at the world champs in Andorra, especially with the recent announcement by Emmeline Ragot that she is retiring from competitive mountain biking.
After suffering two nasty injuries to her arm and leg in Monte Saint Anne, Ragot called time on a lengthy and incredibly successful career as a downhill racer. With her fiercest rival of the past decade removed, Atherton could well continue her winning streak.
Danger from down under
Both New Zealand and Australia make up some of the world’s quickest competition, with the likes of Brook MacDonald and Troy Brosnan both aiming for the top spot.
MacDonald saw a return to form in Val Di Sole where he returned to the podium in 3rd place despite dislocating his knee in qualifying.
Brosnan has come into the sharp end of the competition over the last few races and was set to beat Gwin in Val Di Sole if it wasn’t for a quick tumble and a broken finger. Expect him to be out for more in Andorra.