2013 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships
Saturday, June 29th 2013
On June 29th much of the cycling world will turn their attention to France in a mouth frothing, Phil Liggett induced cycloturbatory frenzy as the Tour de France kicks off. Good for them. At that time XXC will keep things on the dirty side and turn our attention to the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships (and the B.C. Bike Race, but that’s another post) which kicks off the same day.
After last year’s mud bath in Ornans, France World Cup [see video highlights here] racers will be hoping for dryer conditions this year in Kirchberg, Austria where the race is part of the KitzAlpBike-Marathon and Festival.
The men’s course will take racers 95 km (59 miles) over technical trails, dowhnills, two-track and paths with a +/- elevation of 4,000 meters, while the women’s course clocks in at 85 km (52.8 miles).
Some of the men to keep an eye on would be Stefan Sahm (GER), Christoph Sauser (SUI) and 2013 European MTB Marathon Champion Alban Lakata (AUT) who will no doubt be looking for a win on home soil. Olympic gold medalist Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) will also be on the start list too. After some early season health issues (tooth infections) and a crash on the rocks in Nove Mesto, “Jaro” recently bounced back with a 3rd place finish in Val di Sole’s UCI XCO #3 . With form and motivation building there is no way you can count the big Czech out of bringing home the XCM rainbow jersey. Other men to look out for would be Thomas Dietsch (FRA), Karl Platt (GER) and last year’s unexpected winner Periklis Ilias (GRE).
A quick look at the start list has a name from the past popping out– 2008 and 2009 XCM World Champion Roel Paulissen (BEL). You may or may not remember, back in 2010 Paulissen twice tested positive for the use of Clomiphene (a female hormone used to combat infertility that can also raise male testosterone). Despite protests of innocence (shock), Paulissen was banned from the sport for two years and has since returned to racing again at the age of 37, hopefully clean with a new outlook on racing this time.
For a full entry list, click [HERE].
On the Women’s side, it would be hard to bet against Sally Bigham (GBR) for a victory in Kirchberg as she consistently wins or podiums at XCM and stage races all over the world. After an early season filled with school exams, XCO and road racing, last year’s champion Annika Langvad (DEN) will be on hand looking to defend her rainbow jersey. Along with Bigham and Langvad it would seem unwise to count out 2010 UCI Marathon World Champion and recently crowned 2013 European Marathon Champion Esther Süss (SUI) as a contender to take home a victory.
Another woman to keep an eye is our favorite bike racing mom, 40 year old Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå (NOR) who is coming off a 5th place finish in Val di Sole (XCO). Gunn-Rita is no stranger to XCM and has won multiple World Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships (’04, ’05, ’06 and ’08), so anytime Gunn-Rita races she is a threat to win.
Sadly missing from this year’s race will be Sabine Spitz (GER) who crashed hard in training on the Albstadt XCO course last month. Spitz finished 3rd in the European MTB Marathon Championships earlier this year and would have been a threat for sure.
For a full entry list, click [HERE].
What about the U.S.?
USA Cycling Mountain Bike Director Marc Gullickson recently named “a small but solid team for the year’s marathon world championships.” That “team” (literally a couple) consists of Michael Broderick and his wife Mary McConneloug (both from the Kenda-Seven-Stan’s NoTubes team). Gullickson goes onto say “Our hope is that participation in this event by our best endurance riders will grow in the coming years, but the scheduling and location of the race this year makes the travel and logistics difficult for many racers.” No doubt this is made MORE difficult due to the fact (as of last year) USA Cycling wasn’t helping racers financially to participate in the race (you know, pay your own way and represent the country).
Broderick and McConneloug are fine racers and will no doubt give their all, but it is surely frustrating for U.S. mountain bike fans to see only one racer lining up in their respective classes while Great Britain can send four women, Turkey six men and Germany over thirty men and women. Oh well, in any event Go Mary! Go Michael!
Stay tuned for more information, photos and results from this year’s race.