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Road To 2012
Phil Dixon: “Solid and safe results essential at mountain bike World Cup opener”

Published 12 March 2012
Words And Photography By Luke Webber

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One week before the opening round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and the most critical time for Olympic qualification, Phil Dixon, British Cycling’s Olympic Mountain Bike Coach highlighted the need for a solid and safe start to the international season.

Speaking after the weekend’s Cascades Cup and with just three months until Olympic qualification closes, Dixon was happy with the squad's first performance of 2012 but is already anticipating the start of the season, which is just days away.

“The Cascades Cup was a great way to prepare for the World Cup this weekend; it uses the same course, you can adapt to the heat, most of the top racers are in attendance and it is another chance to ride the 2013 World Championship track.

“But the World Cup will be different. No rider can afford a bad race, so we are looking for a solid start to the year rather than anything spectacular. The focus is on finishing the race safely, scoring UCI points and attaining a good grid for round two. This all builds confidence, which is essential as we try and qualify riders for the Olympics.”

And following the test race, signs for the weekend look good. Annie Last finished second in the elite women’s category after a race long battle with Frenchwoman Cecile Ravanel. Dixon commented: “This was Annie’s first race since the 2011 World Championships and ideal preparation for the World Cup which she starts having been reminded of how intense a top level cross country competition is.”

Liam Killeen added further hours to his race conditioning this year, finishing 12th, with under-23s Kenta Gallagher and Grant Ferguson both finishing the Elite men’s race and progressing well.

Live coverage of this weekend's UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is available online this Saturday, with Annie Last racing at 9.30am and Liam Killeen at 12noon UK-time.