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Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 8:15:00 PM
Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 8:18:11 PM
by loganath velloo
Riders discussing the challenging Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge: (from left) Team Ultra Rose's Steffen Tham, Simon Gegenheimer and Fabian Giger.
LANGKAWI: Persistent rain on the eve of the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships threatened to turn Saturday’s 81km race into a muddy affair.
Some of the world’s top mountain bike riders are in Langkawi for Saturday’s qualifier, which offers ranking points and direct places for the World Mountain Bike Championships finals in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, next June.
A total of 88 men and 17 women riders, including 16 Malaysians, have confirmed their participation in the qualifier, which is being held for the first time in Asia.
The world championships qualifier will also act as a prologue to the six-stage 4th Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC), which begins Monday.
German rider Steffen Thum of Team Ultra Rose, who is currently leading the world qualifiers rankings, relishes the challenge posed by the wet weather conditions.
“I had a look at the race track, and it is really slippery with plenty of mud after the rain. However, I am ready for the challenge. My game plan is not to win the race, but to collect valuable ranking points to remain at the head of the list,” said Thum.
In the women’s section, one of the pre-tournament favourites Mariske Strauss of South Africa is amazed at the difficulty level of the Langkawi race track.
“I only arrived from South Africa on Thursday but I am already amazed by the contrasting weather conditions. It was extremely hot and dry on Thursday but today, it is wet and cold. This difference will be reflected in the racing conditions and terrains,” said the Orange Monkey Team rider.
One notable absentee from Saturday’s race will be last year’s LIMBC men’s champion Fabian Giger of Switzerland.
The Giant Pro X Team rider is in Langkawi, but has chosen to sit out Saturday’s qualifier.
“I need some rest to recover after competing in two races in China last weekend. I hope to be fresh on Monday to start the first stage in my LIMBC title defence.
“The LIMBC is a tough and challenging race, and I hope to do my best against the many top riders who are here this year.”
The competition’s race co-ordinator Simon Burney predicts a unique race on Saturday.
“We have held a world championship qualifier in every other continent except Asia before this, and hosting a leg in Langkawi completes the jigsaw,” said Burney.
“I inspected the track and the guys who created it by clearing the jungle have done a good job under difficult conditions to get it ready for racing.
“It is wet today but hopefully, the weather will be kinder to the riders on race day.”
Tags / Keywords:
cycling, Langkawi, UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, World Mountain Bike Championships, Steffen Thum, Fabian Giger
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