I'm so excited for this weekend's racing at the Olympics in Rio !!!
I thought I'll share my thoughts on who I think it is worth looking out for during the races!
1. Jolanda Neff, Switzerland
Blond bombshell from Switzerland and the best technical female rider with a hunger for winning! Jolanda's dad always says, "If you don't want to win the race, don't start it." She also mixed it up in the Women's Road and came 8th ahead of all time legend Marianne Vos and South Africa's Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.
2. Jenny Rissveds, Sweden
Young, blond and beautiful from Sweden as you would expect Jennie has a total different style than Jolanda, she knows how to pace herself and usually ride a pace that she knows she can maintain. She won the U-23 World Championship with a huge margin and beat the Women's World Champion Annika Langvad in the next round of Elite Women's World Cup.
3. Annika Langvad, Denmark
Annika's strengths used to be long marathons and has been World Champion in Marathon racing twice, this year she became the third time winner of the Cape Epic with Arianne Kleinhans.
Personally I think Annika's fitness peaked after winning Leadville 100 at altitude in August 2015 and she continued building on that base, improved her technical skills and became the star of XCO racing in 2016!
4. Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa
In South Africa Gunn-Rita and Sabine Spitz would probably be classed as the 'tannies' of mountain biking, but let me tell you they are everything but tannies! Commentators often refer to their age, but as we can see age is just a number! Gunn-Rita is as legendary as Julien Absalon, she has won over 20 World Cups in her career and has been World & Olympian Champion.
5. Sabine Spitz, Germany
Sabine has been on the Olympic podium twice before and has been working hard this year to reach peak performance. She raced the Cape Epic with Yana Bolemoyna this year and they came second. She loves racing in the heat so Rio would suit her very well.
6. Catherine Pendral, Canada
Catherine is one of my favourites! She has been World Champion before, won the the last World Cup on home soil before the Olympics. Technical, strong and friendly she is a force to be reckoned with.
1. Nino Schurter, Switzerland
Nino has won almost won every big title you can win in XC MTB apart from the Olympic gold medal which was robbed from him in a sprint finish with Jaroslav Kulhavy. If you have seen any of Nino's gym work outs you will know that he takes his training to another level.
Watch this video to see a mountain bike specific gym workout of a different level!
2. Julien Absalon, France
Julien is an absolute legend, he has been world champion numerous times, Olympic champion, World Cup over all winner and winner of the most individual world cups. He raced on a 26" bike until a few years ago, but has moved from Team Orbea to BMC where he has embraced 29" wheels and have now even started to race with a dropper seat post in the World Cups.
3. Jaroslav Kulhavy, Czech Republic
Jaro is a powerhouse and can usually deliver on at a big event. He has won the Cape Epic alongside Christoph Sauser on the two occasions that he took part and pipped Nino Schurter on the line at the Olympics in London 2012.
4. Peter Sagan, Slovakia
And what will Peter Sagan do? Current Road Cycling World Champion that started his career as a mountain biker decided to op out of the Olympic Road Race to rather compete in the Mountain Biking. I love Peter Sagan as he has a lot of personality and is very down to earth. I wouldn't mind if he did really well, but I don't think he will be on the top step of the podium. These athletes have been doing specific training for the Olympics and I'm just not sure if he is going to make it. I'm not confident enough to bet on it though as he might just surprise us all!
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5. Manuel Fumic, Marco Fontana and Jose Hermida, Germany, Spain and Italy
Will the likes of veteran Jose Hermida, Manuel Fumic, Marco Fontana and a few old favourites that have been battling this year peak at the right time?
This year will be Jose Hermida's FIFTH Olympics, that is certainly some effort. He had his best result at the last World Cup in Mt St Aine and is certainly in good form.
Manuel Fumic & Marco Fontana have been battling to get on the podium this year. Marco Fontana got the bronze medal in London after his saddle broke on the last lap of the course, he finished standing out of his saddle!