Grant Ferguson and Annie Last will return from successful world cup outings to race at the final round of the British Cycling MTB Cross-Country Series – however the series winners are likely to come from elsewhere.
Following a period plagued by injury, Last cannot clinch the women’s season-long points title, for which there are eight riders in with a realistic chance of winning.
Kerry MacPhee currently leads the overall standings with 152 points – but just two points behind are Beth Crumpton and Lee Craigie.
With 60 points available for the win and all three riders having dropped a round already, the winner at Cannock will take the title.
However, should any of these riders make a mistake, Alice Barnes who is on 147 points, or Jessie Roberts on 144 points, both have a chance of a top-three standing.
Of the title contenders only Crumpton has won a round of the series to date, but besides Last the form rider is Barnes, who placed highest home-nations finisher at the Commonwealth Games and finished top ten in the under-23 world cup in Windham.
The men’s series standings are more defined, although current leader Paul Oldham is by no means assured of retaining his lead.
Another bogey performance – as witnessed in Sherwood, where Ferguson won and non-series contenders including Field, Pucci and Killeen packed the top ten – could harm his ambitions.
Oldham’s only reprieve is that his principal rivals – Steve James and Dan Fleeman – have failed to beat the favourite in the four races to date.
It’s also mathematically impossible for Ferguson to defend his series title, but he could achieve second, should the top placings in Cannock represent those in Sherwood.
In the junior men’s competition, Mark McGuire is all but guaranteed the series victory – even though he will not be present at Cannock.
McGuire – along with four of the other top five riders – are on international duty, as only Jack Ravenscroft taking to the start line.
With a perfect winning record, Isla Short has also already taken the overall win in the junior women’s category and races internationally instead, allowing another rider the opportunity to take a race win in a series dominated by the young Scot.