MTBO World Cup 2017: Who will be this year’s winners?

Posted on | May 22, 2017 | Category: Newsletter

The individual World Cup winners of 2017 will be found from three rounds of keen competition. The World Cup starts in Austria, continues at the European Championships in France and ends with the most highly-awaited moment of the season, the World Championships in Lithuania. Will anyone beat the reigning Champions, Emily Benham and Anton Foliforov?

The first competitions are already taking place in the new season. In April and May, Portugal and Russia staged the first IOF World Ranking Events in this discipline, but countries including Denmark, Hungary, France, Lithuania and Austria were also privileged venues for recent events, attracting many of the greatest names in the world scene in their efforts to prepare for a season hopefully full of success. However the main focus is on the World Cup events, three rounds across Austria, France and Lithuania that promise to bring history, culture and environment alongside challenging and exciting MTB orienteering.

The three rounds follows the model of the last four editions, and there will be a total of 10 individual and 3 collective stages. Being a country with high credits in MTBO’s history – the female athlete with the most individual medals achieved in World Championships in this discipline is the Austrian Michaela Gigon – Austria was in the genesis of the World Cup when holding the inaugural round of the first edition of the event in 1999. But as the years went by, the World Cup itself suffered a long hiatus between 2003 and 2010 and Austria never again hosted the competition. Now the country is prepared to do so once more, eighteen years later, calling to Waldviertel the best in the world for the first round at the beginning of next month. A round that promises great challenges and lots of excitement, and that will allow the participants not only to measure their current shape, but also to establish contact with the country that will assume the organisation of the World Championships next year.

European Championships and World Championships
Like Austria, France also had long years of interregnum in the organisation of major international competitions, after staging the first World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships in 2002 in Fontainebleau. The inaugural round of the World Cup in 2016 – with a memorable tempestuous stage – marked the return of the French, who this time have Orleans as the venue, from 29th July to 5th August, with the 8th edition of the European MTBO Championships and the MTBO World Cup’s second round. From this year the European Championships will be held annually, with the next meeting scheduled for Hungary in 2018.

The World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships 2017 marks the return of the best in MTB Orienteering to Lithuania, after Kaunas staged the final round of last season’s World Cup in September. Taking place in Vilnius, from 20th to 26th August, the Championships’ focus is on a five-stage programme which, in addition to the world titles of the current season, will find the 2017 World Cup winners.

Candidates for victory
Looking at favourites, the names of the Russian Anton Foliforov and the British rider Emily Benham are the first in line to be mentioned. Foliforov won the last four editions and is today the absolute top star in MTB Orienteering. His supremacy in 2016 was so evident in the first two rounds that the athlete, even though absent from the final round due to injury, ensured his overall triumph by a wide margin. Emily Benham also performed greatly in 2016, with five wins and three second-places in eight individual stages, and is now ready to achieve her fourth World Cup overall triumph in a row.

The last stage of the 2016 MTBO World Cup registered the victories of Czechs Martina Tichovska and Krystof Bogar, two names that promise to continue on the winning track this season. But the list of suitors for the final victory must also necessarily include the names of French Gaëlle Barlet and Estonian Lauri Malsroos, Russian Grigory Medvedev and Finnish Marika Hara, Swiss Maja Rothweiler and Italian Luca Dallavalle, Czech Vojtech Ludvik and Russian Svetlana Poverina. Will they be able to beat Emily Benham and Anton Foliforov?

Text and photo by Joaquim Margarido

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