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2003 MTB World championships - CM
Lugano, Switzerland, August 30 - September 7, 2003
By Kristy Scrymgeour
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.
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)