Lenzerheide, September 5-9

Oil the chainsaws and prep the cowbells! Five action-packed days. Eleven gold medals to give out. The Mountain Bike World Championships are fab.

>>> 10 shocking moments from last year’s World Champs

2018 Mountain Bike World Championships timetable

UK times as follows.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

3.15 pm Opening Ceremony
4.30 pm Cross Country Team Relay
5.45 pm Award Ceremony Cross Country Team Relay

Thursday, September 6, 2018

1.00 pm Women Juniors Cross Country
2.30 pm Award Ceremony Women Juniors Cross Country
3.30 pm Men Juniors Cross Country
5.00 pm Award Ceremony Men Juniors Cross Country

Friday, September 7, 2018

9.15 am Qualification Juniors Downhill
10.30 am Qualification Elite Downhill
01.30 pm Women U23 Cross Country
02.45 pm Award Ceremony Women U23 Cross Country
03.30 pm Men U23 Cross Country
04.45 pm Award Ceremony Men U23 Cross Country

Saturday, September 8, 2018

11.30 pm Women Elite Cross Country
01.00 pm Award Ceremony Women Elite Cross Country
02.30 pm Men Elite Cross Country
05.00 pm Award Ceremony Men Elite Cross Country

Sunday, September 9, 2018

09.30 am Women Juniors Downhill
09.15 am Men Juniors Downhill
10.15 am Award Ceremony Women and Men Juniors Downhill
12.00 pm Women Elite Downhill
01.30 pm Men Elite Downhill
03.45 pm Award Ceremony Women and Men Elite Downhill

Who’s in Great Britain’s World Champs squad?

Not Gee Atherton. Which is rather unfortunate. And unwise. Maybe British Cycling should decide the squad a bit later in the race season hey? Ah well.

Great Britain Elite Men DH

Phil Atwill (23, Berkhamsted)
Adam Brayton (29, Keswick)
Laurie Greenland (21, Bristol)
Danny Hart (26, Redcar)
Michael Jones (23, South Wales)
Matt Walker (19, Shropshire)
Reece Wilson (22, Scotland)

Great Britain Elite Women DH

Rachel Atherton (30, Powys)
Katy Curd (29, Gloucestershire)
Tahnee Seagrave (23, Powys)

Great Britain Junior Men DH

Luke Birkett (18, Cumbria)
Jamie Edmondson (17, Scotland)
Kade Edwards (18, Huddersfield)
Henry Kerr (18, Scotland)
George Kerr (18, Scotland)
Riley Scott (17, Powys)
Morgan Tyrell (17, Wales)

Great Britain Junior Women DH

Maya Atkinson (18, Devon)
Rosy Monaghan (16, Merseyside)

Great Britain Elite men XC

Grant Ferguson (24, Peebles)

Great Britain Elite women XC

Annie Last (27, Sheffield)

Great Britain Under-23 men XC

Frazer Clacherty (20, Middlesbrough)
Cameron Orr (19, Derbyshire)

Great Britain Under-23 women XC

Evie Richards (21, Malvern)
Isla Short (22, Peebles)

Great Britain Junior men XC

Charlie Aldridge (17, Perthshire)
Harry Birchill (17, Devon)
Sean Flynn (18, Edinburgh)

Great Britain Junior women XC

Harriet Harnden (17, Malvern)
Anna McGorum (17, Peebles)

Excited yet?

The world’s best cross country and downhill mountain bikers and the rising stars of the future generation will be competing at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships from September 5-9.

Yes, we know there’s still the final round of the World Cup taking place this weekend at La Bresse in France but with several overall victories already decided, the real excitement is coming in the form who will get to wear the rainbow stripes for 2019.

Who to watch out for: Downhill

Our tips: Rachel Atherton, Aaron Gwin and Valli Höll.

Who we want to win: Rachel Atherton and Adam Brayton.

The athletes have just two weeks to recover from the World Cup season before heading to the start gate of the Downhill World Championships. Loïc Bruni (FRA) and Miranda Miller (CAN) will be looking to defend their rainbow stripes from last year, but the competition will be very tough.

French flyer Myriam Nicole (FRA) will have her eyes set firmly on the rainbow jersey for the remainder of the season. Leading the World Cup, her hopes to defend that title went up in smoke after a crash and the resulting back injury kept her from collecting essential points in both Val Di Sole and Vallnord. A crash at Mont Sainte Anne further hampered her return to racing, will Nicole be able to put the disappointment behind her after recovering and challenge her competition?

After the last couple of World Cup rounds it’s possibly starting to look more like a two-horse race between the British pairing of Rachel Atherton and Tahnee Seagrave. And don’t discount Australia’s Tracey Hannah who has been consistently on the podium this season.

For a lesson in utter dominance look no further than the junior women’s category where Valli Höll has gone six for six at the World Cup. Crashes or mechanicals aside, she looks set to complete on a perfect season with a rainbow jersey.

In the Men’s Elite race two Downhill greats will be looking for redemption and will do their best to prevent Bruni from defending his title or stop other big names such as the in-form Amaury Pierron (FRA), Loris Vergier (FRA) and Troy Brosnan (AUS) from stepping into those coveted rainbow stripes.

Both Aaron Gwin (USA) and Greg Minnaar (RSA) fell short due to injury this season and have been forced to give up the race for the World Cup title. The World Championships pose a chance to save the season and even though there is still La Bresse to go before the World Champs, Lenzerheide’s victor from last year, Greg Minnaar, is already eyeing up the grand finale of the season.

“Even though I feel as if I’m still in World Cup mode, it’s not hard to concentrate on World Champs as well as World Cup. There definitely are elements of my training that we will adjust towards the Lenzerheide track, but the main preparation remains the same”, explains the South African, whose first World Champs in 1997 also took place in Switzerland. “I think it’s important for me to get up to speed before Lenzerheide, so I can be back to my usual self. Not being able to race and watching the World Cups on the side line motivates me for sure. To be honest though I really enjoyed the sport from the side lines. We are part of a great sport, with lots of action and emotion. But my true love is between the tape.”

But… Gwin.

Who to watch out for: XCO

Our tips: Jolanda Neff and Nino Schurter.

Who we want to win: Annie Last and Nino Schurter.

In XCO it’s going to be hard to look beyond the Swiss contingent. With home support on their side XCO-superstars Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff are going into the world champs as almost clear favourites. Jolanda dominated at Mont Sainte Anne leading from start to finish, putting her rivals on the back foot.

So far, reigning World Champion Jolanda Neff’s season is going according to plan as she has secured the lead in the World Cup standings. However, the 25-year-old has been pushed to the limit before by her opposition Annika Langvad (DEN), Maja Wloszczowska (POL), Anne Tauber (NED), Yana Belomoina (UKR) and Pauline Ferrand Prevot (FRA) and will have to keep fighting to distance herself from her competition.

For Nino things might not be so cut and dried. 2018 has been the year when a few small chinks have been seen in his seemingly unbeatable armour. The list of potential medalists seems to be never ending: Mont Sainte Anne World cup winner Mathias Flückiger, Mathieu van der Poel (NED), Sam Gaze (NZL), Anton Cooper (NZL), Gerhard Kerschbaumer (ITA), Stephan Tempier (FRA) and Maxime Marotte (FRA) all challenging the six-time World Champ at every race so far.

Exciting racing and epic battles for the rainbow jersey are guaranteed on the 4.2km-long course on Saturday, September 8.

mountain bike world championships

Credit by Sven Martin

What’s the DH track like?

Lenzerheide’s 1.4 mile long STRAIGHTline track will be mostly recognizable to the athletes, as it already presented a number of changes last year looking towards the World Championships in 2018.

However one additional modification has been made to the track this year, adding another wood section. After the Road Gap in the bottom third riders will first face a series of corners before heading back into the woods earlier than in the past. The freshly prepared wood section precedes the natural one-meter drop Mitas Wall and will most certainly get gnarlier as the week goes on due to underlying roots, that will become visible through the carved up dirt.

“I expect the Ochsner Sport Cabin Hit to be a key section. Riders need to take care to gauge their speed to not overshoot before the 90° corner. Should it be wet during the finals, which wasn’t the case in the past years, I think things will get really interesting in the rock garden up top and in the new wood section” – Head Course Builder Rafael Tschäff Rhyner.

mountain bike world championships

Credit by Sven Martin

What’s the XC track like?

The 2.6 mile long Cross Country Course hasn’t been modified since the changes that were made last year and will once again put the legs and lungs of every athlete to the test. Things could get difficult right from the get-go.

Head Course Builder Rafael Tschäff Rhyner: “One of the keys to being successful is the start. After the first climb the track will take the riders to Heidi’s Hell. If you’re not in the first group, this downhill can literally be hellish. If you are hanging back, things are going to get tight.”