The 29th edition of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships presented by Mercedes Benz will begin on Wednesday, September 5th, in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. This will be the fourth time Switzerland has hosted the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, more than any other country. Lenzerheide is a mountain resort, approximately two hours southeast of Zurich. It has hosted UCI World Cup events in the last three years leading up to the World Championships.Mountain biking's most prestigious event brings together athletes from around the globe, with 716 riders representing 55 nations participating in the downhill (DHI) and cross-country Olympic (XCO) over the course of five days.
The Worlds open with the team relay on Wednesday, when teams of five riders compete in this five lap race on the XCO circuit. Each rider hands off to the next one on the team, and the lead can change every lap. Traditional powerhouses nations to watch for are defending Champions Switzerland, France (winner of the previous three years) and Italy.
On Thursday, the first of three consecutive days of XCO racing begins, starting with the Junior Women and Men. The Under-23 Women and Men race on Friday and the XCO portion concludes on Saturday with Elite categories for Women and Men.
The Elite Women's category has a sizable list of contenders, led by the recently crowned UCI World Cup winner and defending World Champion Jolanda Neff, who will be looking to defend her title on home soil. Other strong podium chances include Annika Langvad (Denmark), Emily Batty (Canada) and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (France). A dark horse is Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa of Norway, who finished second in Lenzerheide last year.
In the Elite Men, the big question is whether defending UCI World Champion and World Cup champion Nino Schurter of Switzerland can extend his record-breaking wins to seven Elite world titles. Schurter, the reigning Olympic Champion, has not been as dominant this season as in previous ones, with Italian rider Gerhard Kerschbaumer beating him in a World Cup, as did Schurter's countryman Mathias Flueckiger. Other contenders to watch for will be Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands, and Maxime Marotte of France.
The final day of the UCI World Championships, on Sunday, is devoted to the Downhill. The Women's field has been dominated by two riders this season - Rachel Atherton and Tahnée Seagrave - both from Great Britain. Atherton will be going for her fifth world title, while Seagrave is looking for her first Elite title. Other strong podium contenders are Myriam Nicole of France and Tracey Hannah of Australia.
The Men's competition has been dominated by French riders this season, with Amaury Pierron winning the World Cup title and three events, plus French wins by Loris Vergier and defending UCI World Champion Loïc Bruni. Other strong podium contenders are Troy Brosnan of Australia and Great Britain's Danny Hart. Returning from injury, but always dangerous are Aaron Gwin (USA) and three time UCI World Champion Greg Minnaar.