With the World Championships to be held in Val Di Sole, Italy, from 25-29 August 2021, AusCycling has now confirmed athlete selections for Junior, U23 and Elite XC, and Junior and Elite DH.
There have also been tweaks to the wording of AusCycling’s position statement on riders racing abroad, which means more of the selected athletes will be eligible to race in Italy.
AusCycling Position Statement on International Activities
In late April 2021, AusCycling updated its position on sending teams abroad. Essentially, with the international borders still closed and Australian’s not allowed to travel overseas without an exemption, the governing body announced it would not be conducting national team campaigns, or projects outside of Australia before 31 August 2021 — unless there was a risk to Olympic or Paralympic qualification.
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Between the ongoing global pandemic, the cap on international arrivals, the mandatory 14-day quarantine, and the fact that a national campaign requires athletes, mechanics, coaches, and an army of support staff, AusCycling felt the risk and cost was too high.
A few weeks later, on 18 May, the governing body announced its selection criteria for the World Championships but maintained it would not send a national team to Italy. However, riders who are currently on a UCI registered team (i.e., are already likely in Europe) would be able to apply to participate.
With the announcement of the gravity athletes named to the World Championships team, the wording around who will be permitted to compete has changed. According to AusCycling, “Due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic and the recently updated AusCycling Position Statement on International Activities, only riders on UCI registered teams or those currently based overseas will be eligible to compete at the 2021 UCI MTB World Championships.”
When the XC and Junior DH athletes were announced, only four of the 18 selected rode for UCI registered teams, meaning the remaining 14 were ineligible despite meeting the performance criteria. This stance appears to have softened for Elite and U23 athletes. Provided riders were overseas before July 1, they can now compete. However, juniors will still need to be on a UCI registered team to race in Italy.
Who was selected?
We now have a more or less comprehensive picture of who will compete at the World Championships in Val Di Sole in August; below is the full list of who has been picked. Riders with an asterisk next to their name are not eligible for participation under the current position statement.
|Elite XC||U23 XC||Junior XC|
|DHI Elite||E-MTB World Championships||Junior Downhill|
As we noted when the XC and Junior DH athletes were announced, Remy Meier-Smith had recently signed with the Propain Factory Racing team and, according to the criteria at the time, was eligible to compete — despite the announcement saying the opposite. Evan James, the MTB Sport Manager at AusCycling, has confirmed Meier-Smith is good to go.
The update to Aus Cycling’s Position Statement on International Activities also means that U23 National Champ Sam Fox, who is currently in Europe racing XC World Cups, is now eligible for Italy, and has indicated to AusCycling that he plans to race.
Since the gravity athletes were named, Jack Moir and Harriett Burbidge-Smith have both declined their selections to the team. Following his success in La Thuile, Moir said he wants to focus all his energy on the remaining EWS stops. Burbidge-Smith declined due to logistical challenges as she’s currently in North America, and has committed to a full event schedule in the US and Canada.
All the riders who have been selected for the World Champs team but are not eligible for travel to Italy, along with a field of development riders who are still to be named, will be invited to an AusCycling MTB high-performance camp later this year. AusCycling is looking at the possibility of a trans-Tasman venue for this training camp, though the final details are yet to be confirmed.
“Australia is once again sending a formidable elite Downhill team to the UCI MTB World Championships,” says James about the most recent athlete selections.
“With some exceptionally high-level performances in recent months in both Downhill World Cups and Enduro World Series races, it is clear our riders are in form and ready.
“It’s also very exciting to have our first representative in the emerging e-MTB discipline.
“As was the case in 2020, it’s incredibly disappointing that a number of riders will not be eligible to participate, but we are confident the alternative camp will keep riders engaged and prepared for when travel is expected to become viable again in 2022,” he continues.
Photos: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool, Graeme Murray/Red Bull Content Pool, and Enduro World Series