Britain's Downhill World Championships team is announced!
Who’s made the grade this year? Find out here…
The selection of the riders going out to World Champs must be one heck of a decision, but let’s face it, Gee and Rachel Atherton made one part of the decision just a little bit easier, but what about the rest of the squad?
British Cycling use a few different criteria to decide who goes to the World Champs and then there is a selection panel of usually 4/5 people, including the performance director who oversees all major championships, and he can call upon a specialist from each discipline to offer advice to help come to the final decision. It's tried and tested and works well, especially for DH where a better understanding in recent years (initially started by Helen Mortimer providing better support for DH) has lead to an increase in the team size both last year and this.
First of all we have to look at the track that this year’s World Champs is going to be raced on – Pietermaritzburg in South Africa, one of the most pedally and fast tracks on the circuit. A big part of the decision making will have come down to which riders will suit the track. The track is split into three sectors, the top section of the track is the steepest and most technical part of the track, it then turns into a flat out 40 second sprint section, the track then takes another turn. The bottom section of track is packed with berms and jumps, definitely a track that won’t suit everyone, and you definitely need to be fit! From what we've heard riders on the shortlist all had to undergo a fitness test this year as part of the decision process. No slackers allowed!
Last year British Cycling took 8 elite men, 3 elite women, 6 junior men, 1 junior woman, 1 elite male 4X rider and 1 elite woman 4X rider.
So who has been selected?
Gee Atherton: You’d have to be stupid not to bring Gee along judging by his recent results. He finished in 3rd in 2011 and 4th in 2012, so will he be able to continue his successful year and take the rainbow stripes this time?
Danny Hart: He’s hasn’t won a World Cup yet (even though he has been close on many occasions), but if you remember back to 2011 he took the World Champs win by a staggering 11.699, at Champery. Although Pietermaritzburg is a totally different track, the guys at British Cycling seem to think he’ll do well. Is Danny going to take two World Championships before winning his first World Cup?
Steve Peat: It’d almost be an insult not to take Steve Peat to the World Champs; he’s been selected every year, except for the races he missed due to injury! Slightly off the pace this year on the World stage, but this track could suit his ‘power game’.
Josh Bryceland: Ratboy is still yet to win a World Cup but he’s still one to watch. He’s been buckling down and training hard over the winter, he wants a win. Could he take the World Champs this year?
Greg Williamson:Greg Williamson is a new British hopeful who’s been taken under the wings of a big team, Trek World Racing, hopefully with the support of a big team behind him he should be able to perform.
Marc Beaumont: On the team with Gee, he’s been slightly over shadowed but he is still definitely someone to keep an eye on.
Brendan Fairclough: Is in as a reserve just like last year. He has been on the circuit for years now, and just like Bryceland, Brendog is yet to take a World Cup win. He's probably glad he's not going as it's not really the sort of track to suit him.
Bernard Kerr: Is in as a reserve, the track at Pietermaritzburg is the sort of track that will suit Kerr.
Rachel Atherton: This woman is unbeatable this year, she hasn’t ever won at Pietermaritzburg, but judging by her current season she has to be the favourite for the win.
Manon Carpenter: The only woman that has managed to challenge Rachel this year, is Manon Carpenter. She beat Rach in qualifying at the last round of the World Cup in Vallnord, but the young Welshwoman is yet to win a World Cup, but she looks well on her way to doing so.
Fionn Griffiths: Fionn hasn’t had the strongest of results this year, but she has performed well at Pietermaritzburg in the past, come in 2nd place in 2011.
Mike Jones: Young lad from Wales proved himself last weekend in Vallnord, Pietermaritzburg is a totally different track that will require an added level of fitness, can he take ever so famous rainbow stripes?
Phil Atwill: Has missed the last round of the World Cup due to injury, but he should be fighting fit by the time it comes to World Champs. He’s for sure one to watch at Pietermaritzburg.
Innes Graham: Innes is the current National Champion and also at the Scottish Champs he not only won his category, he also had the fastest time of the day, beating all the Elite men. He is definitely in with a chance at the World Champs!
George Gannicott: Will we see young Dirt Norco rider George do any damage, quite often we see British Cycing take a lot of Juniors along to the World Champs to give them a little bit more experience.
Sam Herd: Similar to George, Sam has had some strong results in the past, yet to break through into the World Cup results, maybe we’ll see him break through during World Champs.
Tahnee Seagrave: Tahnee is a young gun, who has been mixing it up with the elites, she’s currently ranked in 9th position overall and leading the Junior Women’s category.
And finally for those of you interested in knowing a bit more about the criteria that are used to select the team, then the official guidelines from British Cycling can be found here.
Interestingly in that document we spotted the answer to one of our original concerns about whether or not the team would be smaller this year due to the costs of getting riders over to South Africa. It turns out that this year British Cycling have decided to offer a sliding scale of support when it comes to flight costs. The very top riders get them paid for completely, and then as you work down the list the riders have to pay an increasing percentage of the flight cost. I suppose with a limited budget it is the fairest way to do things and it means we can send more riders, but you could argue that it's the lesser riders who are more likely to struggle with the cost.