The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano returns to center stage this weekend in Hafjell, Norway, two weekends after the new world champions were awarded their rainbow jerseys.Â Hafjell returns to the World Cup for the second year, and will be the final event for the Cross-country and Eliminator series, and the second from last for Downhill.
Located outside of Lillehammer, and 200 kilometres inland from Oslo, Hafjell has become a centre for Norwegian mountain biking, and will play host to the world championships in 2014.
Racing begins on Thursday with the fifth and final round of the Eliminator series.Â In the men's competition, Daniel Federspiel (Otztal Scott) has all but mathematically won the overall title, with 158 points to second placed Simon Gegenheimer of Germany at 99 points.Â With 60 points for a win, Gegenheimer will have to win and Federspiel score no points in order for an upset.
Recently crowned world champion Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory) is in a much tighter battle to take the women's title, with a ten point lead over Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike) at 190 points to 180.Â One of these two riders will win the women's title in Hafjell.
In the Cross-country, Tanja Zakelj (Unior Tools) continues to lead the women's standings with 950 points, as she has from her win in the second round at Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, back in May.Â Katerina Nash (Luna) has pulled to within 85 points after her win at Mont Ste Anne, Canada, and is the only rider who has a realistic chance of catching Zakelj in the final round.Â Maja Wloszczowska (Giant Pro) at 780 points and Eva Lechner at 760 points will be battling for third place in the overall standings.
Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) has an unassailable lead in the men's standings going into the final round with 980 points. Second placed Julien Absalon (BMC), with 760 points, was the only rider who could conceivably overtake Schurter, and the French rider has announced that he will not start the final round, since he is recovering from a broken rib suffered at the world championships.Â This makes Schurter mathematically the World Cup champion.Â However, there are still battles for the remaining overall podium spots, with round one winner Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) possibly able to overtake Absalon for second in the final standings, and Ondrej Cink (Multivan Merida) also in a position to move up.
For the Downhill riders, this is the penultimate round, with the Final to take place a week later in Leogang, Austria.Â Gee Atherton (GT Factory) continues to lead the men's standings, as he has since the first round in Fort William, Scotland.Â However, Canada's Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) has pulled to within 120 points, and was the winner here in Hafjell last year.Â A crash or mechanical could certainly shake up the standings.
The women's Downhill has also tightened up, with Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) beaten for the first time of the season at the Mont Ste Anne round by Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic).Â This has enabled Ragot to pull to within 60 points of Atherton, and another win could see her possibly move into the lead.
The action begins on Thursday, with the Eliminator.
We will show the following event live on redbull.tv:
XCE Women and Men Elite THU 12 Sep 17:52 - 19:45 CET
XCO Women Elite SAT 14 Sep 11:18 - 13:15 CET
XCO Men Elite SAT 14 Sep 13:48 - 15:45 CET
DHI Women and Men Elite SUN 15 Sep 15:15 - 17:22 CET