The first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is imminent. Training for the XC world elite starts tomorrow, Friday, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Reason enough to take a closer look at the track and the favourites.
The UCI World Championships took place in Pietermaritzburg last year and were able to convince with a varied and demanding route. Things went remarkably well for the German participants. The route was changed slightly compared to the previous year and was primarily designed to be more spectator-friendly. So the route was much more compact and peppered with several short but crisp climbs. The start/finish straight was also shortened to bring the field of drivers closer together. The route has a total length of 5,84 kilometers and includes 210 meters of altitude difference.
In a small preview, track designer Nick Floros takes us on a lap.
nino schurter – Schurter is undoubtedly the heavyweight and all-time favorite in the XC World Cup when it comes to victory. In the past three years, the fast Swiss, who is responsible for the Scott Odlo team at the start, almost every major title. Only at the 2012 Olympic Games did he narrowly miss out on the gold medal. Last year he won his third world championship title in Pietermaritzburg. In preparation for this year's World Cup season, Schurter successfully competed in the Absa Cape Epic. With his partner Philip Buys he won two daily classifications and finished fifth overall.
Julian Absalon – He is Schurter's biggest opponent and is considered to be the most successful XC rider of all time. He won Olympic gold in 2008 and celebrated numerous World Cup victories in his long professional career. He also has four world championship titles and five overall World Cup victories. In 2013 he defeated Schurter in front of his home crowd in Bern and secured the European title. At this year's dress rehearsal, he had the usual good start to the year. At the At the BMC Racing Cup in Tesserete a week ago, he beat his competitors and won comfortably.
Manuel Fumic – Our German flagship athlete when it comes to cross country was able to take a phenomenal second place at the 2013 World Championships in Pietermaritzburg and secure the title of Vice World Champion. The track in Pietermaritzburg suits him and is therefore a hot candidate for a podium finish. After all, he was able to start the season well with a win in Nalles a week ago and showed good form.
In the women's category, Tanja Zakelj, last year's overall winner, is starting the new season. The Union Toolsteam rider will have to contend with strong competition. Eva Lechner showed great form last year and will be hungry for victories again this year. Besides her, Katerina Nash, Julie Bresset, Maja Wloszczowska, Alexandra Engen and Jolanda Neff, who won the Cyprus Sunshine Cup, are hot favorites to win. Sabine Spitz should not remain unnamed among the favorites. She celebrated a strong comeback after an injury and not only won the German championship last year. She also won the World Cup in Andorra and seemed hungrier than ever. However, what she can show in Pietermaritzburg remains to be seen. After all, the conditions prevailing there are not comparable to those in Europe.
Schedule & Live Stream
Like last year, the entire World Cup will be broadcast live by Red Bull. All live streams can be viewed at www.redbull.tv finding