The top names in MTB Orienteering are all heading for Austria, where the World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships (WMTBOC), together with its Junior and European Youth counterparts, start on Tuesday.
The three best nations so far this year have proved to be the Czech Republic, Russia and Finland. Competition between the first two looks like being especially tight, with some fascinating battles in prospect: Martina Tichovska and Veronika Kubinova (CZE) versus Olga Shipolova Vinogradova and Svetlana Poverina (RUS), and in the men’s races Anton Foliforov and Ruslan Gritsan (RUS) taking on Krystof Bogar and Vojtech Ludvik (CZE). Finland, if Marika Hara, Antonia and Andre Haga and Pekka Niemi are on form, are also a force to be reckoned with.
Others who will be aiming for medals include Luca Dallavalle (ITA), Baptiste Fuchs (FRA) and Jiri Hradil (CZE), and in the women’s races Clare Dallimore (GBR), who demonstrated her great progress in taking a Middle Distance silver medal at the European Championships in Hungary in May, and just missing out on a medal in the Long race. Her compatriot Emily Benham Kvåle will be missing from the start lists, as she is expecting a baby later this year.
Most attention in the Junior races will be centred on the Danish rider Thomas Steinthal, who won gold in Sprint, Middle and Long at the European Junior MTBO Championships two months ago.
The events are being held in the Waldviertel region in northern Austria, with the town of Zwettl being the Event Centre. The race areas are described as “forest and open areas, dense track network (less so for the Long race), mostly good rideability, some tricky steep sections” – apart from the Sprint which is on flat terrain, forest and urban. In all these areas, athletes are not allowed to go off-track. GPS tracking will be used in all the races.
A multi-day open public competition will take place alongside the championships.
Full details can be found on the event website www.wmtboc2018.at
Outline Programme, WMTBOC and JWMTBOC
Tuesday 7 August Mass Start
Wednesday 8 August Middle Distance
Thursday 9 August Relay
Saturday 11 August Long Distance
Sunday 12 August Sprint