After many months of preparation, the Scottish Highland town of Fort William plays host to the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships this week.
Although Scotland is rated as one of the best locations on the planet for mountain biking, this is the first time that anywhere in Britain has held the World Championships. Accommodating the four disciplines of cross-country, downhill, trials and four-cross it will be a busy week.
The showpiece elite cross-country and downhill events bring a climax to the week, respectively taking place on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.
The big favourites for the men’s cross-country event will be defending and Olympic champion Julien Absalon of France, who has dominated the MTB World Cup this year. Only Spain’s Jose Antonio Hermida has once got the better of him in the series. Watch out for Christophe Sauser (Switzerland), Roel Paulissen (Belgium) and Fredrik Kessiakoff (Sweden) to make a challenge.
British hopes take the form of Oli Beckingsale and Ian Wilkinson, backed up by late additions Nick Craig, Paul Oldham and Simon Richardson. Liam Killeen will not ride thanks to an injury.
Jenny Copnall, Ruth McGavigan and Elizabeth Scalia represent Great Britain in the women’s event, in which pre-race favourite Irinia Kalentyeva will be the one to watch in the absence of regning champ Gun-Rita Dahl-Flesja.
Downhill is something of a British speciality, and if the GB team doesn’t come away with a medal it will be a big disappointment.
With any luck, Steve Peat will be sufficiently recovered from dislocating his foot at the National Championships in mid-July. A serial World Cup winner, he is desperate to finally get his hands on the rainbow jersey of World Champion. Backing him up in the elite men’s category are Marc Beaumont, Brendan Fairclough, and brothers Dan and Gee Atherton.
Meanwhile, in the women’s event, Tracy Moseley will be hoping to better her silver medal from New Zealand last year. With former junior medallists Rachel Atherton and Helen Gaskell also in the team, Britain has a line-up in the event already familiar with the Worlds podium.
Tuesday, Sept 4
1pm: XC team relay
6pm: Opening ceremony
Wednesday, Sept 5
10.30am: XC junior women
1pm: XC under-23 women
Thursday, Sept 6
9.30am: XC junior men
1pm: DH all categories (seeding run)
7.30pm: 4X men and women (qualification)
Friday, Sept 7
9am: Trials women (20in and 26in finals)
1.30pm: XC under-23 men
8pm: 4X men and women (finals)
Saturday, Sept 8
10am: XC elite women
1pm: Trials, junior men (20in finals)
2pm: XC elite men
3pm: Trials junior men (26in finals)
Sunday, Sept 9
10.30am: Trials elite men (20in finals)
10.30am: DH junior men and women
12.30pm: DH elite women
1pm: Trials elite men (26in finals)
1.30pm: DH elite men
MTB WORLD CHAMPS ON TV
BBC2 will be showing a two-hour programme of highlights from the MTB World Championships at 2pm on Sunday, September 9.
Official site: www.fortwilliamworldchamps.co.uk.