A comprehensive Great Britain Cycling Team will travel to Vallnord, Andorra for the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships from 31 August to 6 September, with strong representation across the board in the cross-country and downhill categories.
Annie Last leads the charge in the elite cross-country, with an on-form Grant Ferguson Britain’s finest medal hope in the under-23 cross country category. Meanwhile Alice Barnes will also hope to translate her breakthrough 2015 form into a strong performance on the biggest stage.
Manon Carpenter and Gee Atherton will return to defend their elite downhill titles but will face stiff competition from within their own country ranks. Rachel Atherton approaches the championships after a season of almost total dominance while 2014 men’s silver medallist Josh Bryceland has been getting stronger all season following his broken foot sustained in Norway a year ago and will hope to challenge for a maiden elite world title.
Mountain bike cross-country
Annie Last will be Great Britain’s sole representative in the elite women’s category and comes into the championships after a season that has seen the 24-year-old rebuild her form following a long-term back injury. Despite pulling out of the final world cup round in Italy midway through the event, Last will hope to end her 2015 on a high following her 18th place in the world cup standings.
Grant Ferguson has hit peak form ahead of his bid for glory in the under-23 men’s category, achieving his first world cup win at Val di Sole just a week out from Vallnord. It was a performance that the 21-year-old Scot has been hinting at for some time, following a silver medal ride at the European championships earlier in the season.
Ferguson will be joined by Iain Paton, who has split his season between world cup cross-country with Great Britain Cycling Team and competition on the road with Team Wiggins.
Under-23 Alice Barnes comes into the championships in the form of her life after achieving her first world cup podium in Mont-Sainte-Anne. Barnes missed the final round of the world cup in Italy, in a deliberate move to avoid illness and fatigue and also recce the high-altitude Vallnord track.
The junior categories see six riders representing Great Britain, four in the men’s and two in the women’s ranks.
Frazer Clacherty, Thomas Craig, Mark McGuire and Will Gascoyne all travel to Andorra following a full season of competition in the UCI Junior Series XCO.
Evie Richards and Ffion James represent British interests in the junior women’s race, with Richards flying high after taking silver in the final round of the UCI Junior Series XCO earlier in the month, the latest of an impressive haul of podium appearances in 2015.
Mountain bike downhill
Rachel Atherton comes into the world championships as hot favourite to reclaim the title she last won in South Africa in 2013. Atherton crushed the competition in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup this season, recording six wins out of seven on her way to overall victory. Silver at the worlds last year, Atherton will hope that she has enough left in the tank to claim gold in Andorra.
Reigning champion Manon Carpenter finished second overall in the world cup behind the unstoppable Atherton despite a season that didn’t entirely go the way of the 22-year-old from Caerphilly.
Atherton’s 2015 dominance has, so far, echoed that of Carpenter the previous year, when the Madison Saracen Factory Race Team rider clinched both the world cup and world championship titles.
Tahnee Seagrave completed a British 1-2-3 in the world cup in a season which saw the 20-year-old push her more experienced compatriots all the way. Bronze in Hafjell last year, Seagrave has already signalled her intentions to pressure Carpenter and Atherton in the search for a medal of a different colour.
Four-cross and downhill competitor Katy Curd completes the British line-up after a top ten world cup finish for the 26-year-old from Wiltshire.
Gee Atherton will return to defend the elite men’s world title he won in Norway a year ago in a thrilling battle with countryman Josh Bryceland, which only ended when the latter spectacularly overcooked the final jump on the Hafjell course and smashed his left foot.
A long and painful recovery through the winter for Bryceland saw him ready for the 2015 season and after a steady build-up through the early rounds, ‘Ratboy’ went on to outplace Atherton on the world cup stage, recording fifth overall in the season-long contest, a place ahead of Atherton, thanks largely to a fine win in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Danny Hart hinted at his form and desire in the final round of the world cup in Italy, the 2011 world champion on his best run all season before a crash wrecked his chances. Seventh overall in the world cup rankings, Hart may well be the form British man for Andorra.
Laurie Greenland will hope to convert his impressive world cup performance into a world title in Andorra, the Trek World Racing rider winning the overall comfortably ahead of Australia’s Andrew Crimmins thanks to three wins in Fort William, Mont-Sainte-Anne and Windham.
Greenland will be joined by six further British junior men; Frazer McCubbing, Bradley Swinbank, Neil Stewart, Elliot Heap, Charlie Hatton and James Purvis.
Vallnord, high in the Pyrenees in Andorra, will host the mountain bike world championships for the first time in 2015, having been a regular stop on the world cup circuit, last hosting a round in 2013.
The cross-country titles will be contested on a technical 4.2-kilometre course at Vallnord’s Pal ski station with the 2000-metre elevation likely to test riders unused to riding at altitude.
The downhill course has a vertical drop of 700 metres over 2.5-kilometres, starting at the Pal ski station and finishing at the resort of La Massana.
- Monday 31 August – rider confirmation and course inspection
- Tuesday 1 September – cross-country eliminator, trials team championships
- Wednesday 2 September – cross-country team relay
- Thursday 3 September – junior men’s and women’s cross-country
- Friday 4 September – under-23 men’s and women’s cross-country, downhill seeding (junior), elite men’s, women’s and junior men’s trials
- Saturday 5 September – downhill official timed session (elite), elite men’s and women’s cross country, junior and elite 26-inch trials
- Sunday 6 September – elite men’s, elite women’s and junior men’s downhill world championships
How to follow the racing
- Reports, results, reaction and images on the British Cycling website
- Follow @BritishCycling on Twitter for updates
- Selected races will be broadcast on the BBC in the UK and RedBull Media House worldwide. Please check broadcaster listings for further details