The first UCI World Championships of the mountain bike season will take place on July 6th at Val di Sole, in Trentino, the north-eastern region of Italy, with the UCI Four-cross World Championships presented by Mercedes-Benz. This will be the fourth consecutive year that Val di Sole has hosted this event. Four-cross (4X) is the shortest and most intense of the mountain bike disciplines with four riders at a time exploding out of the start gate to race down a course, in less than a minute, full of banked corners, jumps and technical obstacles. The top two riders move on to the next round, until there are only four women and four men left to contest for the rainbow jersey.The Val di Sole track was created for the 2008 UCI World Championships, and it is among the most stunning and challenging courses in the world. At 600 metres, the track is the longest on the 4X Pro Tour circuit. Racing takes place at night under lights in front of thousands of fans.
In the absence of four-time defending champion Caroline Buchanan of Australia, Romana Labounkova of the Czech Republic, last year's silver medalist, is the clear favourite. Labounkova is undefeated on the 4x Pro Tour circuit this season. Other podium hopefuls include Natasha Bradley (Great Britain), Tyde d'Souza (Great Britain) and Vanessa Kager (Austria), all of whom have appeared on Pro Tour podiums this season.
In the men's competition, defending champion Felix Beckeman (Sweden) has won two of three Pro Tour events and finished third in the other. He will face competition from Quentin Derbier (France) last year's silver medalist, and 2016 silver medalist Tomas Slavik (Czech Republic), who was the only rider to beat Beckeman on the Pro Tour this season.
Watch last year's best moments: