Gee and Rachel won the World Championship double in 2008, could this be the year that they do it again?
Gee, Rachel and Marc have started their training runs at Worlds in Pietermaritzburg! Excitement is high with massive media coverage of bikes, set up and riders. Another double win for Gee and Rach would be the icing on the cake for a fantastic season and team –mate Marc is in top form after his top ten finish at Mont St Anne but it won’t be easy for any of the GT Factory Racing team with strong competition and a long, loose and wild course!
Riders: Gee Atherton, Rachel Atherton, Marc Beaumont
Mechanics: Pete Michaliszyn, Mark Maurissen, Andy Lund
Support : Dan Brown
Bikes: The new GT Fury with epic custom graphics and paint! We especially like the mechanics national flags! Polish for Pete on Gee’s Bike, a Welsh dragon for Lundy on Rach’s bike and Belgium for Mark and Marc! Check out the detail over on Vital MTB http://ow.ly/ops4a
The course is very different from the one that Gee and Marc rode in the World Cup here in 2012. It has some great new jumps in the mid section and designers have worked on helping the riders to carry speed. But it also has some brutal pedalling and the top section is rough after some serious use last week and the Junior Final this morning so it’s pretty technical up there. The weather forecast shows a chance of rain showers today and Saturday morning but at the moment it’s dry and very dusty, very fast… Rain has a very sudden and dramatic effect here, turning the track into a mudslide in minutes so riders and mechanics will be watching the skies. Similarly sudden breezes can catch riders unawares on some of those big jumps.
It’s warm today (about 22 degrees with some cloud and a chance of rain, winds of up to 20km/h per hour should drop right down after today’s practice but may strengthen up to about 15 for Sunday. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be a little cooler – around 16 degrees with a chance of showers on Saturday morning then it’s clear skies all the way.
Rachel has never been to South Africa before and is really enjoying the new experience. She has dominated the World Cup season so far but crashed at MSA and has been taking things a little easier in the last few weeks so now she is raring to go! Rachel starts this World Champs weekend in the number 2 jersey.
In last year’s World Champs in Leogang Gee came agonisingly close to a second World title when he lost out by 5 tenths of a second to South Africa’s Greg Minaar. He’ll be keen to rectify that this weekend, despite a lot of speculation as to Minaar’s home advantage. Gee has podiumed here before (3rd in 2011 World Cup and 4th in 2012) but all reports suggest that it’s a very different course.
Marc has also had some solid results here, he was 7th in 2011 and always gives the World Champs his all – he narrowly missed the podium in 2010 and 2011 when he was 6th both years so he’ll be gunning for it this weekend.
Gee: “Being here with Rach and Slugger is great, the GT Fury is sweet and practice so far has been awesome. After that we’ll have to wait and see what Finals bring!”
Rachel: “I’m loving South Africa! I was a bit disappointed with last year’s 5th at World Champs and didn’t have a great race at MSA so it’s all to prove!”
Marc: “Last year’s World Champs a stall in the lower woods cost me a load of time and I ended up 14th which wasn’t the result I was looking for so I’ll be going all out this weekend to make sure nothing like that happens again! I think it’s true that I do push extra hard at Worlds as it’s only a one run format!”