Arab MTB Championship 2019
Over the summer, the National Team’s focus has been on mountain bikestage racing. Starting with the infamously tough Croatian 4 Islandsrace, which was truly a baptism of fire for the team. Through the restof the summer, the racing continued as follows:
- UCI 4 Island MTB Stage Race 5 Stages (Cat. UCI S1) 09/13 – Apr 2019 – 4 Elite Category Riders
- UCI Cryo Space MTB Stage Race 4 Stages (Cat. UCI S2) 29- Jun 02 – Jul 2019 – 3 Elite Category Riders
- UCI MTB Asian Continental Championships Lebanon 25/28 – Jul 2019 – 3 Elite Category Riders
- MEMORIAL STJEPAN GRGAC Road Race Croatia 18-Aug 2019 – 2 Elite Category Riders & 2 Junior Category Riders
- FUZINE TO SEA MTB Marathon Croatia 24-Aug 2019 – 2 Elite Category Riders
Head Coach, Szymon Wasiak, explains that these kind of races arebetter than training camps as they put the riders under performancepressure and they learn new skills while experiencing internationalcompetition. Another advantage of mountain bike racing is that itdoesn’t require the level of support and resources demanded by the road.This allows our young team to attend and be competitive in more races.
The first test of skills and fitness earned through the summer cameat the 2nd UCI Arab Mountain Bike Championships on 29th October to 2ndNovember. Here is Wasiak’s account of the event.
“Riders and staff arrived in Tunis five days before the actualcompetition start, to have enough preparation time for courserecognition and to practice the technical parts. We tested differenttire pressures to make correct adjustments for the terrain and weatherconditions. The course was a mix of natural landscape and man-mademotocross race track which included many short steep climbs requiringhigh power and dynamic acceleration. The lap distance was 5.8km. Theelite race was six laps and five laps for juniors.
- Juniors : Bilal Al Saadi, Nayef A Mesallam
- Elite : Abdulla Al Khater, Marwan Al Jalham, Abdulla A Afif.
“On the 31 of October, our National Junior Team came to the startline to represent their country after a high intensity warm up on therollers. Weather conditions were dry and we had perfectly set up thebikes for such conditions. Right after the start though, both of ourriders were caught up in a crash caused by one of the Algerian ridersand they lost a lot of time right at the very beginning of the race.Bilal Al Saadi made a lot of time in the latter stages of the race andtook a solid 8th place with only a one-minute gap to the 4th place.Nayef Al Mesallam was 16th. The crash was a huge pity as I candefinitely say that top-five placings would have been easily possiblebut this gives us hope and motivation for next year.
“One day prior to the Elite race heavy rain started making theplanning a bit unpredictable, especially for the tire selection andpressure adjustments. Getting these small details right are crucialelement of MTB racing.
“During the five-day camp one of our riders, Abdulla A Afif caught aninfection which effectively eliminated him from the race but we got tothe start line with two ready-to-race riders: Abdulla Al Khater andMarwan Al Jalham. The rain was pouring the whole night before and rightthrough race day, making conditions on the course extreme and veryslippery. Marwan told me that he came off ten times during the six laps!Moroccan riders dominated the race right from the start and our riderstried to stay in the top ten. Final result: Marwan was classified in 14thplace and Abdulla Al Khater 16th.
“This summer has been all about learning. The team has beenexperiencing terrain and conditions which they have never faced before.This championship was another great experience gained and I’m sure thatevery year will give us opportunities to improve riders’ skills andability to race at the highest world level.”