Britain will aim for more world championship success this week as mountain bike cross country, downhill and trials riders compete in South Africa for the honour of wearing the rainbow jersey.
Pietermaritzburg will host the week-long event where a travelling squad of 22 will aim to win Britain’s first gold since 2011 when Danny Hart’s downhill run in Champery, Switzerland became a YouTube sensation.
The 15 downhill riders selected include six previous world champions, with a blend of age and experience testament to a domestic scene that continues to flourish.
Gee and Rachel Atherton displayed on home soil the legacy of the spiritual home of British mountain biking, Fort William, which hosted the opening round of the 2013 world cup series.
Since departing for Europe, the Atherton’s have won three more world cups and are favourites to repeat their double world championship victory from 2008.
The rest of the senior British squad features strength in depth, with previous world champions Steve Peat (2009), Danny Hart (2011), Josh Bryceland (2008, junior) and Manon Carpenter (2011, junior).
Looking to emulate the achievements of Bryceland and Carpenter are six juniors. Mike Jones has already won a round of the world cup, finished runner up in another, with others providing a further four top-five finishes. With no women’s equivalent, Tahnee Seagrave has been successful in qualifying for all four senior women’s world cup finals, twice recording a top ten position.
Following the London 2012 Olympic Games, the cross country squad is composed entirely of development athletes from British Cycling’s Olympic Performance Programmes.
Under 23 riders Kenta Gallagher and Grant Ferguson have made huge progress in their short time as full time athletes - Gallagher in his third year focusing on the eliminator event and winning a round of the world cup series. In Pietermaritzburg Gallagher will turn his full attention back to cross country racing for the first time this year with the intention of building on his experience and speed gained in short-course racing and converting this to the Olympic discipline.
In his second year of the under 23 category, Ferguson will be looking to replicate his best form which has seen wins against senior international opposition at the British Cross Country Series, the title of senior British Cross Country Champion and top ten under 23 world cup placings come his way.
British Cycling Olympic Academy athlete Beth Crumpton will not travel with the squad, getting ill one week out, but juniors Alice Barnes and Mike Thompson will look to take 2013 world cup experiences and deliver performances in their final year in the age group.
Andrei Burton has progressed to every 1/2 final of the world cup series in 2013, with his best result coming in April, where he made the final in Heubach, Germany, finishing seventh.
The downhill finals of the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships will be broadcast live on RedBull.tv on September 1, from 12.50pm.
British Cycling will be reporting from the British squad throughout the event.
Schedule (local times):
9.30am: Junior women cross country
9.30am: Junior men trials qualification
11.30am: Junior men cross country
1.00pm: Elite men trials qualification
10.00am: Junior men and women downhill
3.15pm: Under-23 men cross country
4.00pm: Junior men trials final
6.00pm: Elite men trials final
2.00pm: Elite women downhill
3.00pm: Elite men downhill