The British World Champs squad was announced yesterday and, truth be told, we think it’s a strong one. There’s almost a guarantee of medals in the women’s race (no pressure!) and a super strong fields for both the Elite men and Junior men.
Full World Champs Rider List
Phil Atwill (23, Berkhamsted)
Adam Brayton (29, Keswick)
Laurie Greenland (21, Bristol)
Danny Hart (26, Redcar)
Michael Jones (23, South Wales)
Matt Walker (19, Shropshire)
Reece Wilson (22, Scotland)
Rachel Atherton (30, Powys)
Katy Curd (29, Gloucestershire)
Tahnee Seagrave (23, Powys)
Luke Birkett (18, Cumbria)
Jamie Edmondson (17, Scotland)
Kade Edwards (18, Huddersfield)
Henry Kerr (18, Scotland)
George Kerr (18, Scotland)
Riley Scott (17, Powys)
Morgan Tyrell (17, Wales)
Maya Atkinson (18, Devon)
Rosy Monaghan (16, Merseyside)
Here’ what the British Cycling panel took into consideration when compiling the list:
"1. Race performances in 2018 UCI MTB DHI World Cup events in the period between 21st April 2018 and 15th July 2018. The selection panel will take account of age and experience of riders, as well as the quality of field, size of field, nature of the course and the percentage of time behind the winning rider;
2. Race performances at the 2017 Lenzerheide UCI DHI World Cup;
3. Any other points that the selection panel deems necessary."
Last year was a pretty dire Champs for the senior Brits with Seagrave and Brayton best placed Brits in 11th and 13th respectively. You have to go back to 1996 (and the last time we were in Cairns) for there not to be a Brit in the top ten finishers at Worlds in the men's and Les Gets '04 for the women. The juniors tasted 1-2 success though with Matt Walker and Joe Breeden wrapping things up.
Lenzerheide is a good track for us though, with three of the five men’s podium spots last year under the Union Jack and Rach claiming two wins in the last three years here. It’s also on familiar(ish) European soil without the jet lag and infrastructure woes Cairns brings too.
Let’s take a closer look at who made it, and who missed out:
Seven places were available for Worlds this year and a top 20 at World Cup level was the result needed for consideration. Youth is definitely on this squad’s side with an average age of 23 and nobody over the age of 30.
This team has two World Champs titles already (courtesy of Danny Hart), two junior World Champs (Laurie Greenland and Matt Walker) and five World Cup podiums this year. Let’s get into it:
2018 results - 7, 16, 3, 2, 4
Lenzerheide results - 4, 13, 1 (Juniors)
The highest ranked Brit rider in the World Cup standings and the best British results so far this year, Laurie was a shoe-in for selection. At just 21, he already has a World Champs medal and is still on the same bike that won him it.
Laurie has had strong results at Lenzerheide. He won there in his Trek days as a junior and claimed his first ever World Cup podium there last year. Let’s not forget, he’s also been World Champion as a junior in Vallnord. Laurie is a real prospect for a strong result in Switzerland.
2018 results - 10, 6, 12, 3, 6
Lenzerheide results - 3, 1, 7
The two-time World Champion and the only Brit winner at Lenzerheide, Danny is also in a super strong position heading into World Champs. He’s quickly gelled with the Madison Saracen team and his podium in Val di Sole was proof he’s well in the hunt this year.
Lenzerheide doesn’t seem like a track that would intrinsically suit Hart but his form here proves the opposite. He’s the only rider apart from Greg Minnaar that’s ever won here and with Minnaar still recovering from injury, we We wouldn’t bet against another strong result for the Redcar Rocket.
2018 results - DNF, 4, 22, 7, 41
Lenzerheide results - 35, DNF, 42
Reece Wilson has burst onto the scene out of virtually no where to be the only other Brit that has taken a World Cup podium this year. Yes, Reece’s ride at Fort William was special but he backed it up with some strong splits in Leogang and then another top ten in Val di Sole.
Reece has only been riding mountain bikes for six years and is only getting faster. He'll head to his first ever World Champs as a big talent well deserving of his spot.
2018 results - 22, 25, 17, 13, 25
Lenzerheide results - 34, 12, 13
Brayton is the only other Brit rider ranked in the current World Cup top 20 after a consistent but not spectacular run of results. Brayton’s gone well at Lenzerheide in the past and being on the limits of grip and control are where he rides best.
Brayton probably also deserves a place for what Hope are going to cook up alone!
2018 results - DNF, 7, 31, DNF, 11
Lenzerheide results - 13 (junior), DNS (junior)
When it’s been good, it’s been great for Matt Walker this season. He is ranked lower than Gee Atherton currently but when he’s pulled together a full race run, he’s been the much stronger rider this year.
Lenzerheide has comfortably been his worst track as a junior but given how easily he’s transitioned into the senior rankings, the reigning junior World Champ will be feeling confident for Worlds.
2018 results - DNS, 24, 8, DNS, 60
Lenzerhiede results - 57, 29, 54
Although both Joe Smith and Brendan Fairclough are ranked above him, Mike Jones gets the nod for Lenzerheide. Make no bones about it, Mike Jones has been rapid this season. From the side of the track, he’s one of the fastest boys out there. When he puts it together, as he did in Leogang, the result speaks for itself.
2018 results - DNS, DNS, 39, 15, 20
Lenzerheide results - DNS, DNS, 5
Probably the most contentious pick into the World Champs squad, we reckon Phil Atwill is mainly there on the strength of his podium in Lenzerheide last year. It’s been a tough year for Atwill after an ACL operation in the winter but he’s coming back strong after failing to qualify at the first two rounds.
With another month’s recuperation in the bank, Phil could be back to his best by the time World Champs rolls around.
Who missed out?
With a top 20 World Cup finish needed for consideration, five other Brit riders missed out - Gee Atherton, Joe Smith, Greg Williamson, Charlie Hatton and Bernard Kerr. You’d have to say that Gee Atherton was the biggest loser here with three top 20 results so far this year and a bevy of World Champs experience (including winning the thing in 2008 and 2014). Gee has also podiumed in Lenzerheide, but that was back in 2015.
Gee’s Trek team mate, Charlie Hatton, will probably also feel a bit left out as his 14th place in Fort William is better than any result Atwill has picked up this year. Consistency has been lacking for Hatton this year though and a wrist injury picked up in Leogang has left him unable to fully deliver on his massive promise from last season.
With the current top two ranked women in the World heading to Lenzerheide in Brit colours, you have to feel like we’re guaranteed a healthy haul of medals here… but then we thought the same thing in Cairns!
The criteria for women’s selection are slightly different with a top ten needed for consideration, that leaves just three women (out of a possible seven) that made the cut:
2018 results - 2, 3, 1, 2, 2
Lenzerheide results - 1, 1, 2
Rachel is sitting proudly at the top of the World Cup overall standings after a season filled with guts, bravery and bloody mindedness to overcome some rotten luck. Her past form in Lenzerheide has been unquestionable and include a five second demolition in 2015. She's strong favourite to take her sixth gold medal from where we're standing.
2018 results - 3, 1, DSQ, 1, 1
Lenzerheide results - 9, 2, 5
Tahnee is enjoying a golden mid season after a stuttering start. Taking the wins on the two most technical tracks of the season have proven her calibre and she now has her sights set on chasing down Rach for the title. Tahnee hasn't had the best of times at Lenzerheide but then she's never been as fast as she is this year.
With Myriam Nicole coming back from injury and these two currently so far ahead of the rest of the women’s field, you’d be brave to bet against them.
2018 results - 8, 7, 7, 13, 16
Lenzerheide results - 7, DNS
Katy Curd has made a great return to racing so far this year with three top tens to kick off her year. She’ll be an outside shout for medals come race day in Lenzerheide too.
We’re taking a full contingent of seven junior lads to Lenzerheide but just two junior women.
It’s great to see a mix of World Cup regulars and young up-and-comers being invited along too. Kade Edwards, Henry Kerr and Jamie Edmondson will all be on the medals hunt while it’s great experience for the likes of Luke Birkett and Riley Scott.