Today, Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) announced who will be in the Australian Team to represent Australia at the 2017 Cross-Country Marathon (XCM) Mountain Bike World Championships, which will be held in Singen, Germany on 24-25 June.
The riders who confirmed their selection are:
Briony Mattocks (NSW)
Murray Spink (VIC)
Michael England (QLD)
Talking to the Australian Team for Singen
This Australian Team is quite different to that which was in Laissac, France for the 2016 XCM World Championships, where both Anna Beck and Imogen Smith achieved MTBA’s goal of top 30 positions (finishing 28th and 20th respectively). This year, Mattocks aims to return and use her experience gained in 2016 to better her result. Previous XCM National Champion Murray Spink, and 2015 team member Michael England will be looking for good performances in Germany.
“I’m really excited to once again be given the opportunity to race the fastest women in the world,” said Mattocks. “It’s such an honour to represent your country and I’ll be doing my absolute best to demonstrate the values embodied in the green and gold jersey,” she said.
Spink is currently competing in the XC World Cup season over in Europe, while England recently took out Round 4 of the 2017 XCM National Series at Redland Bay.
“Australian selection for the 2017 XCM World Championships in Germany has been a major goal for myself this season,” England said who last competed at the 2015 world championships in Italy. “I’m extremely honoured to have this opportunity and am looking forward to representing my country once again.”
What’s involved in being in the Australian Team?
Well, you can’t just put your hand up. Riders need to qualify, either by winning a national XCM round, or placing within a few percent of the winner’s time. Previous results may also get taken into account as a discretionary measure. The top 10 women and top 20 men at our National XCM title can also qualify.
But as Subaru-MarathonMTB.com racer Imogen Smith explained last year, there’s a lot of work involved to get to XCM World Champs to wear the green and gold jersey. The three riders above are making those sacrifices in order to represent their country.
In recent years a team manger for the Australian Team has been a voluntary position, with assistance in the technical/feed zones falling on family who might have travelled with the team members. This isn’t really any different for the XCO and DHI teams, although typically they do have a staff member appointed by MTBA.
In short, being part of the team is a lot of hard work and expense, to chase a dream and big goals.
Does the course suit the Australian Team?
The race in Singen should be very fast – as shown in previous editions where the races have finished in a sprint, even with XCO specialists winning. It is hard to gauge the exact make up of the course, but most European courses used for recent XCM World Championships have had a great mix of road, farm trails, fire road, bike paths, singletrack and more – to make up a hard course the decides a worthy winner. The 2016 route in Laissac was proven to be a demanding route to race, harder than it appeared ‘on paper’.
The course is not at altitude like it was in 2015, and isn’t as hilly as some, with 2050m in the 80km race and 2800m in the 98km race (women’s and men’s respectively, as currently proposed). So there is a lot in the favour for the Australian Team – if they can get the support on the ground they need.
Regardless, we are all looking forward to seeing these three athletes go into battle in Singen, with the national jersey on their shoulders.