Sept 8, 2011 – Champery, Switzerland
World Championships weekend is always a special one, with riders donning their national colours, putting it all on the line for their countries and sponsors. At this past weekend’s MTB World Championships in Champery, Switzerland, Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain was well represented, with all of its members making their respective national teams.
Most of the week leading up to Saturday’s XC completion had been sunny and clear, giving clear views to the jagged Alp peaks surrounding the venue. However, rain was forecasted for Saturday and that was music to Geoff Kabush’s ears. Kabush who only two years ago won the Bromont World Cup in nasty and wet conditions was hoping for a battle of attrition in nasty conditions. Starting in the low 30’s, Kabush hovered around 20th position for the first two laps, but once the rain started really coming down, Kabush began to pick of his competitors one by one. The extremely technical Champery course suited him perfectly and he moved up to 10th place by the end, a great way to cap off the 2011 season.
One of the most talked about features of the Champery XC course was the “Hell Zone”, which featured a six foot drop. There was a ride-around option, but this would cost anyone who took it about 6-7 seconds. During training, Maxxis-RMB’s Marie-Helene Premont was training on the drop and took a nasty spill, crashing on her back and exploding the CO2 canister in her back pocket. The crashe forced Marie off the bike for the next few days and she was only able to resume riding the day before the race. As luck would have it, Marie crashed during her race in another section on her back again, costing her valuable time. She soldiered in for 9th place, which was disappointing, but considering the week she’d had, it would have to do.
The Champery DH course is notoriously steep and treacherous, possibly the most difficult on the entire World Cup circuit. Maxxis-RMB’s Ruaridh Cunningham, the current UK National DH champion finished 10th at Champery last year and was looking for another strong result on his favourite course, but crashed heavily in training, injuring his shoulder. After careful consideration, the young Scot was forced to withdraw from competition.
Sabrina Jonnier who had previously finished second on the Champery course, felt good in training, but when the skies unleashed a massive downpour on race day, a few bobbles kept her off the podium. She finished a respectable 5th place.
With Worlds over, the Maxxis-RMB athletes can head home for a much deserved break from racing. However, with the Olympics coming up in London in 2012, the team will soon be preparing for our attack on the podium.