August 26/13 10:59 am - MTB Worlds Pre Preview
Posted by Editoress on 08/26/13
The day after the Masters Mountain Bike Worlds concluded, organizers in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, immediately began to prepare for the Mountain Bike World Championships for the Elite, Under-23 and Junior categories. Pietermaritzburg has a strong history of putting on World Cups, but this will be the first time the Mountain Bike World Championships have been held in Africa.
So far, all the action is organizational, with course markings being changed over from the Masters championships, teams setting up in the expo area and everyone picking up their credentials. The courses will not be open for training until tomorrow (Tuesday), so there are no riders in the venue, but they can be seen all around town on training rides. Team Canada has arrived and settled in with no problems, reports national development coach Ian Hughes.
Teams check in at Accreditation
However, a few people are having difficulty getting to Pietermaritzburg. South Africa requires a clean (ie, no other entry stamps) page on a passport, and some people are being refused boarding on their flights in Europe and North America. Various team staff, media and at least one rider (American downhiller Jill Kintner) have been caught out by this, and all have been frantically scrambling with embassies wherever they happen to be, to get either extra pages added to their passports, or new passports.
In other bits and pieces:
- Local Pietermaritzburg downhill star, and defending world champion, Greg Minnaar, has just opened his bike shop, a few hundred metres from the venue. Everyone is dropping by to have a look and get a coffee at the coffee bar. When I stopped by, Greg was working on a customer's helmet, so he is definitely a hands-on owner.
Greg Minnaar working on a customer's helmet
- On Thursday, a ceremony will be held to open a memorial garden for Burry Stander, the South African cross-country rider who was tragically killed at the beginning of this year when he was hit by a car while on a training ride.
- Since we are in the Zulu region (KwaZulu-Natal), we will be seeing traditional Zulu dancers and costume during tomorrow's opening ceremonies, and throughout the week. I am told that Zulu warriors will be on hand to guard every podium. It should be an interesting spectacle...
- South African Airways (SAA) ground staff just went on strike today, which may prove interesting for the athletes, team staff and media who still have to arrive...
- The weather is currently very hot - low to mid 30s Celcius. It is forecast to stay hot until Friday, when the temperature drops to the mid-teens and there is a strong chance of rain (Under 23 XC races). For the final two days (Elite XC, DH and Eliminator), it will return to sunny weather but stay cool.