Rachel Atherton will make her much-anticipated return to Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup duty this weekend as the downhill season gets underway in Losinj, Croatia.
The four-time world champion is one of 32 British elite and six junior riders set to compete for their teams across the weekend, with this downhill event the second leg of the ten-round world cup series.
About the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
The Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is a ten-round competition encompassing three different mountain bike formats.
There are seven rounds of cross-country and downhill races and the World Cup debut of a new event in 2018 - cross-country short circuit, which features six times.
The season opener took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa, last month, where Great Britain Cycling Team’s Evie Richards took an impressive third place in the under-23 women’s race for Trek Factory Racing in a cross-country exclusive event.
The downhill season now gets underway in Losinj while May sees back-to-back double header weekends as cross-country and short circuit events take place in Albstadt, Germany and Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.
That is followed by back-to-back downhill weekends in June, with the popular home round in Fort William followed by a trip to Leogang, Austria.
The final four rounds feature all three disciplines, with race weekends in Val di Sole, Italy and Vallnord, Andorra in July followed by Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada and La Bresse, France in August.
Riders will do battle to be crowned world cup winners in their individual disciplines.
Rachel Atherton’s international comeback will be complete this weekend as the multiple world champion prepares to return two weeks after taking to the domestic downhill stage.
Not since a broken collarbone last year has the 30-year-old raced at this level but when it comes to world cups, few do it better.
Indeed an unprecedented and record-breaking 14 consecutive world cup wins came her way prior to last year’s trip to Fort William, looking to return to winning ways in Croatia for Trek Factory Racing DH.
Joining her on the start line will be Tahnee Seagrave, on the podium five times in World Cups in 2017 – picking up victories in the last two races of the season in the process.
She’ll be competing for Transition Bikes / Muc-Off Factory Racing, while Aston Tutt and Katy Curd will also be in action in the women’s elite.
Tutt finished third in last season’s HSBC UK | National Downhill Series while Curd has already spent more than a decade in the sport, including become national champion in 2010.
As many as 28 elite British men will compete across the weekend – the highest of any country though it’s their individual teams for whom they’ll be racing for in Croatia.
Among them is world champion Danny Hart, who lifted the global downhill title in 2011 and 2016, riding for Madison Saracen Factory Team with a plethora of world cup wins already in his locker.
He’s not the only flying British rider however with MS Mondraker Team’s Laurie Greenland looking to show his class on the continent once again.
The downhill world cup opener will also see a number of juniors look to make the step up in elite competition, notably Matt Walker – riding for Madison Saracen Factory Team, junior winner in Fort William last year.
That was one of four podium finishes in the season for Walker while Kade Edwards will look to replicate his own efforts having made two podiums in the junior events in 2017.
And the Atherton clan will be well-stocked with Gee also set to compete as the two-time world champion looks to add to his world cup collection – 14 years since winning his first.
The Mercedes Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup heads to Losinj, Croatia for the first time this weekend.
Losinj is an island in the northern Adriatic Sea and has a population of around 10,000 people.
The course is 1.9km long with a 250m descent and finishes on the streets in the town’s harbour area.
Schedule (UK times)
Saturday 21 April
11.15am: Junior women qualifying
11.30am: Junior men qualifying
12.30pm: Elite women qualifying
1pm: Elite men qualifying
Sunday 22 April
8.45am: Junior women final
9.15am: Junior men final
11.30am: Elite women final
12.30pm: Elite men final
How to follow
- Watch the elite men’s and elite women’s races live on Red Bull TV with highlights from 7pm on Sunday evening on the BIKE Channel
- Follow @BritishCycling for updates on Twitter
- Report will appear on the British Cycling website