With the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships set to kick off in Ornans, France in less than twelve hours, MarathonMTB.com takes a look at those we expect to make the race in the men’s and women’s fields respectively.
With two former world champions (Alban Lakata and Massimo de Bertolis) and the current world champion (Christoph Sauser) all down to start tomorrow in Ornans, it could be a strong battle for the stripey jersey. Lakata spent the early part of the week in bed with a fever, only to amuse us all by referring to the course on facebook as a “bloody mess”! He is undoubtedly a strong man for all conditions, and one of the main favourites for the title if he can overcome his illness in time. Columbian Hector Leonardo Paez Leon has had a quiet year this year, sitting in 89th in the marathon world rankings, but if he can recapture the form of a few years ago, could also be a force to be reckoned with.
From the Czech team, Kristian Hynek, winner of this year’s Alpentour Trophy must be a good bet for a result to cap a good year for him on the marathon racing circuit. Spanish XC racing sensation Sergio Mantecon Guiterrez has already shown his credentials as an XC racer with a second place in the Windham world cup earlier in the year, but is something of a marathon question mark.
Some may think that team work is anathema to marathon racing, but the reality is that having a group of several strong riders can be a great benefit, even on the most selective of courses. With this in mind, it is worth watching the strong French Team consisting of seasoned marathon professional, and former podium finisher in the worlds, Thomas Dietsch, and two strong XC riders in the form of Stephane Tempier & Maxime Marotte, who are relative marathon unknowns.
The super-strong German team could be tempted to count their chickens, with three riders in the top-10 in the marathon world rankings, and a team that reads like a whos who of marathon & XC racing – Platt, Thum, Sahm, Gegenheimer, Mennen, Kurschat, Milatz…
The Italian team, including former world champ Massimo de Bertolis, who is backed up by Johnny Cataneo, Mirko Celestino, Marzio Deho & Tony Longo will also be looking for a result. Last, but by no means least, are the Swiss. After a year of total dominance in mountain bike racing, they will certainly be looking to defending world champ Sauser, Alexander Moos, Andreas Kugler, Urs Huber (winner of this race as a world series race last year), as well as XC racer Mathias Fluckiger to bring home the bacon.
All eyes will be on the defending Champ Annika Langvad (Denmark) to see if she can repeat last year where she stole a march on the usual suspects. We should never discount the evergreen Pia Sundsedt (Finland) although her road racing experience will be little help on the tricky and slippery course, in sharp contrast to last year, she is always a strong competitor and knows what it takes to win the worlds. A strong British team, headed by the pairing of Jane Nuessli & Sally Bigham, numbers 1 and 2 in the world rankings, should also be a force to be reckoned with. Their main competition will be in the form of the German team, featuring Olympic silver medallist Sabine Spitz, marathon specialists Kathrin Schwing and Lisi Brandau and world cup XC racer Adelheid Morath.
Given this is Spitz’s swansong race, they will likely be working for her. A notable individual competitor is Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa, who will be out to cap what has been an excellent season for her with a stripey jersey, especially after the disappointment of crashing out of the Olympics in London. Finally, we should note that, in similarity to the men’s race, the Swiss team also contains a number of favourites, in particular Esther Suss, who took 5th place in the Olympic XC race, but comes from a marathon background, and Alexandra Clement who holds 5th place in the marathon world series rankings.
Full start lists and then results are on the UCI webiste.