Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) have just released the complete team list for the 2019 UCI Cross Country Marathon (XCM) World Championships, which will be taking place in Graechen, in the Valais canton in Switzerland.
The team will be made up of five riders in 2019, including two members of the MarathonMTB.com Team.
For some, this isn’t their first time representing their country at an elite World Championships event. Sebastian Jayne has competed in two XCO World Championships, along with the 2018 XCM World Championships. Similarly, Imogen Smith has raced in two XCM World Championships and one XCO World Championship before. Ben May also raced in the XCM World Champs in 2018.
But for some riders this will be their first time racing in the green and gold representing Australia.
“I began mountain bike racing in the year 2000,” said MarathonMTB.com Team rider Justin Morris. “Since then the sport has given me the motivating effect of a smile on the face and also taught me a lot about dealing with and pushing through suffering. To represent Australia was my goal as a junior XC racer, I did not make it and took a journey into road racing as a U23/elite.” Morris had a long career on the road at a local, national and then international level, racing professionally for the NovoNordisk team.
“Mountain bike racing and that goal of national representation was still a carrot in my riding life, and to make that dream a reality is a huge honour for me. It also reiterated to me the power of patience and commitment. 20 years of trying and I can call the dream achieved.”
“On the outset XCM racing appears as an individual sport,” added Morris. “But being a part of a team is really helpful in this discipline. I have been so grateful for the support of the MarathonMTB.com Team and all our sponsors on this path. Without their support my dream of racing for my country would always remain just a dream. The support of our sponsors has enabled my goals in this sport.”
Ben May will be lining up for his second XCM World Championships, after competing in Italy in 2018.
“Having the opportunity to be racing at this years XCM World Championships in Graechen is something that does not come along often and to say I’m stoked is an understatement. I love racing that includes big climbs and the course this year really fits that profile. Being able to line up with riders you have always looked up to really is something special particularly wearing the green and gold.”
Sebastian Jayne has more of an XCO focus, but he can put a good marathon together, and he plans to do that again in 2019 in Graechen. Seb will also be racing in Canada at the UCI XCO World Championships just a few weeks beforehand.
“I’m really excited to be selected for the 2019 XCM World Championships,” said Seb Jayne, when he was contacted. “Last years World Championships in Italy was a great experience on a very difficult course and I’m sure Switzerland will be another tough but great day out. The course looks good and I’m looking forward to pushing for a great result with the rest of the Aussie team. My preparation will include the O-Tour Marathon in Alpnach, Switzerland on September 8th which is the weekend after the XCO World Championships in Canada to see where I’m at and what I need to work on for marathon racing and then two weeks in Grächen fine tuning before the big day!”
Tyla Windham will be racing his first UCI XCM World Championship, and given his consistent high placings at home in Australia, he looks set to capitalise on the racing to jump into the next phase.
Imogen Smith raced the 2016 XCM World Championships in Laissac, France, and the 2018 championships in Auronzo di Cadore, Italy. And she can’t wait to race in Switzerland.
“I’m really proud to be selected for XCM Worlds as it’s the main goal I’ve been working towards this year. I can’t wait to take the new Norco Revolver FS over to Switzerland and test it out on the big climbs and descents over there. My bike and equipment have helped me take my technical riding up a level this year so I can’t wait to see what I can do in September.”
A look at the XCM Championships course
As you might expect, the courses in Graechen will be hilly. The town is perched at around 1600m altitude, high enough in the Valais to speak Swiss German. And yes, there are two courses, as men and women race on different courses. This is common for XCM World Champs, and most UCI marathons. The aim is to have similar finishing times for winning men and winning women.
The men’s course will tackle 90.25km and climb 3466m according the the competition site. Although the UCI states it is 95km and about 4000m for the men, which seems about right considering the amount of climbing for the women’s race. The route will be punctuated by three main climbs, and it appears that most climbs will be on double track, and the descents will be trail. Given the area, this is likely to be walking tracks, trails along the bisse and other trails.
The women’s course is a little different, not doing one of the sections of the men’s course, for a 69.64km distance and 3507m of climbing. Like the men’s course, the route doesn’t go over 1800m altitude, so while it’s not at sea level, it’s not going super high like the route in 2018 or in 2015 in the Dolomites. Being accustomed to altitude will be an advantage, but not in the same way as when the route goes beyond 2200m above sea level.
We’ll be on the ground in Graechen covering the racing, the bikes and the preparation ahead of the race on 22nd September.