We’re off the rollers, warmed up and ready to blast down the starting straight for the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Championships, on Thursday 15th August in Waregem, Belgium.
Mountain Bike cross-country Eliminator (XCE) involves short, fast races over varied terrain, with a knock-out competition format enabling the best to proceed to the next round. After individually timed qualifying laps, four riders go head-to-head in a series of elimination heats: from ⅛ final for Elite Men and ¼ finals for Elite Women through to the Small and Big finals at the end of the day. The first racer from the final four to cross the line is the winner! Find out more information about XCE here.
From 2012 to 2015, the UCI World Championships for XCE were held alongside those for cross-country Olympic (XCO) and downhill (DHI) as part of the UCI Mountain bike World Championships. In 2017 and 2018, they joined the programme of the UCI Urban Cycling World Championships. The 2019 UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Championships in Waregem will be orgnaised by Citymountainbike, which also stages the UCI XCE World Cup.
The course in Waregem is quick, mixing man-made and natural surfaces including tarmac, single-track and obstacles. There are plenty of opportunities to overtake, although getting a good start remains of the utmost importance.
Waregem is a well-known venue, having hosted Class 3 XCE events on the UCI International Mountain Bike Calendar from 2012 to 2016 before becoming a stop on the UCI World Cup circuit in 2017 then hosting the City Mountain Bike Festival in 2018. It now welcomes the UCI World Championships which are nestled between the UCI World Cup fixtures in Volterra, Italy, (which was held mid-June) and Valkenswaard, the Netherlands (18 August.) Two more rounds will follow in Germany and Austria.
The top five in the current World Cup standings are a decent basic guide to this year’s form:
Men to watch
In first place with 134 points – having won Rounds 2 (Villard-de-Lans, France) and 3 (Volterra) - is 23-year-old European Champion, Frenchman Hugo Briatta, second in the UCI World Championships last year. In second place, with 100 points, is 26-year-old Jeroen van Eck, with a win in Round 1 (Barcelona, Spain) and a second-place finish in Volterra. The multiple Dutch National Champion was overall winner of the 2018 UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup powered by citymountainbike.com and fourth in last year’s UCI World Championships.
Then there’s Titouan Perrin-Ganier, the reigning double Eliminator UCI World Champion, who won’t give that jersey up without a fight. ‘Mr Consistent’ has placed fourth, third and third in 2019’s World Cup races so far and finished second in the European Championships.
Fourth-placed German Felix Klausmann already has two podiums in this year’s UCI World Cup and made the final four of the European Championships. Fifth is Spanish Champion Alberto Mingorance (second in Barcelona). It’s also worth looking out for Frenchmen Maxime Gagnaire and Lorenzo Serres (third in Europe this year and third in the World Championships in both 2017 and 2018). Another name never to be ruled out is that of Italian Champion Mirko Tabacchi.
Women to watch
In first place with 120 points following back-to-back wins in France and Italy is 17-year-old Italian Gaia Tormena: she’s storming the World Cup and will have her confidence high in her first UCI World Championships.
Second with 77 points is the Ukraine’s Iryna Popova. The 26-year-old was second in the UCI World Championships in China last year and was 2016 European Champion. Standing in third place is Marion Fromberger: the German 18-year-old won the opening UCI World Cup event this year in Barcelona (also qualifying first) and was third in the 2018 UCI World Championships.
Spain’s Magdalena Duran and Margaux Borrelly of France lie in fourth and fifth. And watch out for reigning UCI World Champion Coline Clauzure and her French compatriots Laurie Vezie and Manon Wimmer, along with Norwegians Ingrid Sophie Boe Jacobsen and Anna Stray Rongve who both podiumed in China 2018.