The latest rounds of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup take place this weekend in Lenzerheide, Switzerland – with both cross-country and downhill disciplines taking place at the same venue for the first time of the season.
Until now, races have remained separate – with the cross-country riders visiting Nove Mesto, Czech Republic and Albstadt, Germany for rounds one and two.
With a month-long break from competition, Great Britain’s athletes will be looking to show their progression against the world’s best at the mid-way point of the series.
In his final year in the category, the British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme athlete is fourth overall in the standings, but will need to begin to visit the podium if he is to challenge for a top three finish at the end of the season.
Ferguson is joined by second-year Olympic Academy riders Iain Paton and Mike Thompson in the under-23 race. Paton will be hoping to improve on his season’s best of 41st at round one and Thompson will look to break the top 60.
In the women’s under-23 competition, Alice Barnes starts from securing second place in the British road race championships.
Barnes’ return to mountain bike racing comes after a season-best result in Albstadt, where she finished 10th.
Annie Last will race in the elite women’s competition, looking to break into the top ten for the first time this year. Last was riding high in Albstadt, but a mechanical put her outside of the top 20.
The three opening rounds of the downhill series have taken place in Lourdes, Fort William and Leogang – after which Rachel Atherton leads the women’s overall standings.
Back-to-back wins in Fort William and Leogang makes her the rider to beat, while defending champion Manon Carpenter will hope to change a run of bad luck that started in Fort William with a huge crash and continued in Leogang with disqualification.
Gee Atherton is the highest placed British rider in the men’s standings, in a season dominated to date by lingering injury.
A crash before his race run at round one left him fighting to get down the hill to salvage points – and Atherton has been in damage limitation ever since, unable to put together a run unhindered by the injury.
How to watch
The UCI website will provide live timing for all races – including the under-23 women’s and men’s competitions, which are not televised.
Reports, results and reaction will be posted on British Cycling through the weekend.