Great Britain’s Olympic Mountain Bike coach Phil Dixon, has told riders that this weekend’s European mountain bike championships are an opportunity to post career-best results.
The event, to be hosted in St. Wendel, Germany will be the chance to compete against some of the best cross-country racers in the world, away from the pressures of the world cup environment.
Dixon hopes that the encouraging performances from the seven juniors who travelled to the Albstadt world cup last weekend continue, however due to a heavy schedule of school exams only Dylan Kerfoot Robson, Frazer Clacherty and Isla Short will compete.
Short was singled out by Dixon as Britain’s “strongest medal hope”, after she finished sixth in Albstadt. In St. Wendel, Dixon hopes that the course will suit the young climber more, with a slightly less extreme technical nature on the descents.
Dixon believes the remaining riders are all capable of producing career-best results, should they get a favourable gridding and avoid first lap crashes and tailbacks.
The nature of the modernised Olympic discipline, with lap times of around ten minutes on narrow courses and with at least 100 competitors across each category, means riders must be alert and have some good luck if they are to finish with a placing reflective of their ability.
Britain’s sole representative in the elite men’s race – Paul Oldham – produced lap times consistent for a 30th place finish in Albstadt, but due to a start line crash only managed 62nd, having crossed the line on lap one in a lowly 123rd place.
The junior and under-23 riders faced a similar challenge and will need to make rapid progress against the grain.
Dixon is alert to such restrictions, using a combination of official lap results and unofficial timed sections on course to get an accurate representation of each riders’ progress.
“We’re always watching on course and I think if things work out, riders like Steve James, Iain Paton and Alice Barnes could break the top 20 this weekend.
“For the others, it’s a case of performing to the best of their abilities – some days your position won’t be representative of your track speed, but on occasion it’s still possible to deliver against the odds.”