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2003 MTB World championships - CM

Lugano, Switzerland, August 30 - September 7, 2003

Preview    Past winners    

Challenging courses and first-ever marathon world's await riders in Lugano

By Kristy Scrymgeour

2002 XC Champ Green
Photo ©: CN

Sunday, August 31 marks the beginning of the 2003 MTB World Championships in Lugano, Switzerland. Kicking off the week of racing is an event new to the championships, the marathon, creating an opportunity for ultra endurance riders to shine. During the week are the junior events, the team relay and the 4-cross event with the Downhill and Cross Country races on the following weekend.

The marathon consists of 28km of asphalt, 22km of dirt road/grass and 28km of single track (78km in total) covering mountainous terrain and taking in 2,857m of climbing, the most challenging being what is called the "Devils Wall", which climbs 800m at 22%. Open to everyone over 19 years of age, there are 1,438 people signed up to start the event and the winners of the men's and women's events will be the first crowned marathon world champions in history.

With Monday and Tuesday set aside for training and warm up events, Wednesday begins with the junior women cross country and the Team Relay. Last year the winner of the junior women's race was Australian Lisa Mathison and the Team Relay was won by the Canadian team, which is back again in force.

Thursday will be another day of training, semifinals for Trials and qualifications for 4-Cross and Downhill, whilst Friday features junior men's cross country, women's Trials, men's U/23 Cross Country, and men's and women's 4-Cross events. Last year's winner of the junior men's cross country, Trent Lowe (Australia) is not on the start list this year and the U/23 winner Julian Absalon (France) is now in the elite ranks and considered a favourite after a very strong season. Absalon won the WC in Monte St Anne, Canada and is currently running second in the WC cup series and ranked number one in UCI points.

In the 4-Cross events, Anne- Caroline Chausson (France) will be back to defend her title against World Cup leader Katrina Miller (Australia) and Sabrina Jonnier (France). In the men's event Brian Lopes (USA) returns after a season of injury to defend his title from last year, up against riders such as Cedric Gracia (France), Wade Boots (Australia), and his fellow Americans Mike King and Eric Carter.

The Downhillers will be flying down Monte Tomaro on Saturday with defending champion Nicolas Vouilloz (France) up against UCI points leader Mickael Pascal (France) and Steve Peat (GBR), who won the final NORBA event in Colorado only two weeks ago. Current UCI leader Marielle Saner (Switzerland) will be challenging reigning world champion Chausson in the women's downhill event, along with NORBA series winner Fionn Griffiths (Great Britain).

Finally on Sunday the Cross Country takes place with Roland Green (Canada) returning to defend his title after a season riddled with injury and sickness. Other favourites include World Cup leader Bart Brentjens (Netherlands) and UCI leader Christophe Sauser (Switzerland), as well as Ryder Hesjedal (Canada), who recently won the overall NORBA series.

In the women's event, Gunn-Rita Dahle (Norway) is enjoying amazing form. She will defend her 2002 title with four World Cup wins behind her this year. Riding against her will be German Sabine Spitz and Irina Kalentieva (Russia) who are ranked second and third in the WC series to date.

The junior and elite trials also take place on Sunday with Karin Moor (Switzerland) hoping to defend her title in her home country. Kenny Belay (Belgium) and Marco Hosel (Germany) are favourites in the men's 26" and men's 20" events, respectively.

With one day to go before the start of racing, the beautiful town of Lugano, which has for centuries been famous as a health resort and is also now famous for its chocolate, tobacco and silk, was enjoying clear, sunny skies and a perfect forecast. Temperatures are predicted to be around 23 degrees over the next five days with no rain.

Past winners

1990 - USA - Durango            Men                        Women
Cross-Country                      Ned Overend (USA)          Juliana Furtado (USA)
Downhill                           Greg Herbold (USA)         Cindy Devine (Can)
1991 - Italy - Ciocco
Cross-Country                      John Tomac (USA)           Ruthie Matthes (USA)
Downhill                           Albert Iten (Swi)          Giovanna Bonazzi (Ita)
1992 - Canada - Bromont
Cross-Country                      Henrik Djernis (Den)       Silvia Fürst (Swi)
Downhill                           Dave Cullinan (USA)        Juliana Furtado (USA)
1993 - France - Métabief
Cross-Country                      Henrik Djernis (Den)       Paola Pezzo (Ita)
Downhill                           Mike King (USA)            Giovanna Bonazzi (Ita)
1994 - USA - Vail
Cross-Country                      Henrik Djernis (Den)       Alison Sydor (Can)
Downhill                           François Gachet (Fra)      Missy Giove (USA)
1995 - Germany - Kirchzarten
Cross-Country                      Bart Brentjens (Ned)       Alison Sydor (Can)
Downhill                           Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra)     Leigh Donovan (USA)
1996 - Australia - Cairns
Cross-Country                      Thomas Frischknecht (Swi)  Alison Sydor (Can) 
Downhill                           Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra)     Anne C. Chausson (Fra)
1997 - Switzerland - Château-D'oex
Cross-Country                      Hubert Pallhuber (Ita)     Paola Pezzo (Ita)
Downhill                           Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra)     Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)
1998 - Canada - Mont-Sainte-Anne
Cross-Country                      Christophe Dupouey (Fra)   Laurence Leboucher (Fra)
Downhill                           Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra)     Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)
1999 - Sweden - Åre
Cross-Country                      Michael Rasmussen (Den)    Marga Fullana (Spa)
Downhill                           Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra)     Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)
2000 - Spain - Sierra Nevada
Cross-Country                      Miguel Martinez (Fra)      Marga Fullana (Spa)
Downhill                           Myles Rockwell (USA)       Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)
Dual                               Wade Bootes (Aus)          Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)
2001 - USA - Vail / Beaver Creek
Cross-Country                      Roland Green (Can)         Alison Dunlap (USA)
Downhill                           Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra)     Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)
Dual                               Brian Lopes (USA)          Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)

2002 - Austria - Kaprun
Cross-Country                      Roland Green (Can)         Gunn-Rita Dahle (Nor)
Downhill                           Nicolas Vouilloz (Fra)     Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)
4x                                 Brian Lopes (USA)          Anne-Caroline Chausson (Fra)


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