Wantirna Osteo’s Mountain Bike Star, Dr. Drew Blatchford gives us an insight into the upcoming Olympic event this weekend.
Mountain biking first entered the Olympic games in Atlanta 1996 and has been present ever since. The format is Cross country or XCO in abbreviated form. The women’s race is on Sunday 21st August and the men’s race is Monday 22nd August. Riders will compete from a mass start over a steep and technically demanding course with many obstacles. Racing will likely be for approximately 90 minutes and is a multi lap format. Finish the laps first and the Gold is yours.
Rebecca (Bec) Henderson (25, Canberra) is the sole Australian representative. Bec is a seasoned professional representing on the world stage for Trek factory racing. Australia has two male riders Dan McConnell (31, Victoria) and Scott Bowden (21, Tasmania) a slight surprise inclusion due to his young age, but an exciting prospect.
Bowden has a great opportunity for experience, our best chance is with McConnell, he has previously won World level, however he is up against two of the all time greats. Julian Absalon of France won gold in Athens and Beijing and Nino Schurter of Switzerland, a multiple World Champion and silver medallist from London are arguably the favourites. The joy of mountain biking is that almost anything can happen, mechanical incidents, crashes, punctures, it will make for a fast and entertaining event.
Bowden was also a surprise call up to the road cycling team as Australia had a spare place in the road team after the track cycling team utilised one of their allocated places. This was a sensible decision to bolster the track squad where Australian cycling has its best medal chances.
Interesting fact: the current Road race World Champion Peter Sagan, who recently won another Green sprinters jersey at this year’s Tour de France has gone back to his roots and has entered the Mountain bike race, representing Slovakia. He decided against racing in the road race as it was too hilly for him to be a realistic medal chance.