Bets are on for the XCO World Championships

Richard Cunynghame gives us his view on the potential winners of this year's XCO World Championship

With the Olympics out the way and the World Cup series decided, the World Championships is the last big one for these riders this year. There might be a few tired legs out there but nothing like the chance of a rainbow to perk them up.

The Women's category has seen a good battle at the top this year between Catherine Pendrel, Gunn-Rita Dahle, Katrina Nash and Julie Bresset. The Canadian Pendrel won the series by 242 points ahead Dahle then Nash. Bresset missing the American leg of the tour halted her very real chance of taking the series. Having claimed the 2011 series the reward of an Olympic gold was obviously in her sights. In fact the Frenchwoman was the only one of these four to perform well at the Olympics; only Pendrel making the top ten with a disappointing ninth with Julie Bresset way out front making the Olympic dream reality.

Bresset missing the American leg of the tour halted her very real chance of taking the series.

So we have Pendrel and Bresset both going for a double at this event, Pendrel is the current World Champion and is not going to let the title, that Bresset wants for the first time, go easy. After cementing herself into golden Olympic history, a World Championship title would complete a hugely successful start to the 23 year-old Julie Bresset’s career. But after the disappointment of the Olympics, the other three will be bringing everything to the table.

The three big guns in the Men’s this year have to be Nino Schurter, Jaroslav Kulhavy and the ever present Julian Absalon. All previous owners of the rainbow stripes and now all winners of the World Cup series.

Schurter's dogged determination has seen him take the World Cup series for the first time this year in fine form with four wins. The four times World Champ Absalon has had a funny old season including two wins and a couple of DNF's. No one could have missed that he was building for a third Olympic gold. Those dreams were dashed when he punctured and had to pull out, obviously not the way he'd wish his Olympic career to end, as that must certainly be his last attempt at it. He will surely want to bury that memory of disappointment from the Olympics and stamp his authority here with a fifth set of rainbow stripes.

Mid race at the mtb xco in Val D'Isère for the UCI World Cup 2012
The race is underway at the XCO MTB World Cup© Sven Martin

It’s certainly going to be fast and there will be no punches pulled, the fight is set to be intense.

With Nino Schurter looking like the man to beat all year, Kulhavy pulled the one he needed out against Schurter at just the right time, the Olympics. Still floating on the success of adding Olympic champion to his roster of accolades with his World Cup series and World Championship titles from 2011. Kulhavy may have let the series slip this year, arguably in order to peak for the Olympics, but he certainly won’t to let the rainbow stripes out of his hands easily. The double of World and Olympic Champion is far too tasty to allow any thought of it not happening.

Those three may be the big dogs in the fight but we've seen all year a strong shout from the likes of Marco Fontana, Burry Stander and José Hermida.

Fontana certainly has the credentials to pull off a win at this level and has been looking continually more likely to do so. With three World Cup thirds this year and especially the one on the grand stage of the Olympics, where he suffered a fateful mechanical foiling his inclusion for the battle to the line, after hanging with Kulhavy and Schurter the whole way. Burry Stander has a couple of World Cup wins to his name, proving his ability at this level and José Hermida’s heritage shows he’s very capable too. Winning the title in 2010, the only thing against the 34 year-old is his age, although a second place at Windham this year shows he’s still not far off winning pace.

It’s certainly going to be fast and there will be no punches pulled, the fight is set to be intense.

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