World Mountain Bike Champs Under Way in Switzerland

The 2011 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships kicked off yesterday (Wednesday 31 August) with the junior women cross-country (XCO) and the national XCO Team Relay at the Swiss resort of Champéry.

Approximately 840 athletes from 49 countries have entered for the mountain bike races, which sees nearly all the big names that have dominated the season so far battle it out for the ultimate glory: the World Champion’s rainbow jersey.

For the cross-country specialists, this edition of the World Championships is the last before the 2012 London Olympics.

Amidst eager fans who had gathered for the opening Championship events of the week, the Team Relay spiced up the action when the world’s best XCO riders went head-to-head in an exciting sprint race in a relay format. Acknowledged as a recognised speciality of the world mountain bike championships, the Team Relay allows each nation to enter only a single team comprising 1 Elite Man, 1 Elite Woman, 1 under-23 Man and 1 Junior Man; and each rider selected must already be entered for the individual downhill, 4X, or Olympic cross-country events.

South Africa’s finest representatives meeting this criteria were Mariske Strauss (U23), Rourke Croeser (U23), Luke Roberts (Junior) and Burry Stander (Elite), finishing 11th in a star-studded race that included current Mountain Bike World Champion Nino Schurter (SUI) and winner of the 2011 World Cup Series Julie Bresset (FRA).

France took top honours and the Gold medal finishing the race in 0:54:04; Switzerland claimed Silver 41-seconds behind and Italy secured Bronze 54-seconds off the pace. South Africa’s eleventh place was completed in 0:57:39.

Two hours prior (at 15h00), Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt raced in the Junior Women’s XCO finishing 32nd +14:03 behind eventual winner and local Swiss rider Linda Indergand – Indergand’s winning time was 0:57:30.

Today (1 September) sees the Junior Men and U23 Women take to the XCO track for World Championship prestige. South African riders who will be kitting up are Luke Roberts, Brendon Davids, Gert Heyns, Mariske Strauss and Candice Neethling.

South Africa’s World MTB Championship Squad:

Burry Stander – XCO
Philip Buys – XCO
Greg Minnaar – DHI
Andrew Neethling – DHI
Tim Bentley – DHI
Johann Potgieter – DHI

James Reid – XCO
Rourke Croeser – XCO
Dominic Calitz – XCO
Mariske Strauss – XCO
Candice Neethling – XCO

Luke Roberts – XCO
Brendon Davids – XCO
Gert Heyns – XCO
Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt – XCO
Adi van der Merwe – DHI
Tiaan Odendaal – DHI
Alasdair Fey – DHI

Team Manager: Bryan Strauss
Team Mechanic: Rob Cunnington