Top MTB Orienteers heading for World Championships in Finland

Almost all the world’s top-ranked MTBO athletes are entered for this year’s World MTB Orienteering Championships (WMTBOC), to be held in Kuortane in western Finland from 12th to 17th June. The event is also the first round of the CX80 MTBO World Cup, and the Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships (JWMTBOC) is being staged here at the same time.

Fifteen nations plus neutral athletes from Russia will be present at WMTBOC with in all 63 men and 43 women competing. Thirteen men and ten women with current placings in the top fifteen in the IOF World Rankings will be present, including defending world champions Grigory Medvedev (Sprint) and Ruslan Gritsan (Long), who will both be competing as neutral athletes, and Vojtech Ludvik (Middle) and Jiri Hradil (Mass Start) both of the Czech Republic. Strong challengers will include current World Rankings leader and neutral athlete Anton Foliforov, Czech Krystof Bogar and Finnish home rider Jussi Laurila.

Vojtech Ludvik (CZE) – Will he repeat his gold medal performance from 2019?

One notable absentee is Emily Benham Kvåle of Great Britain, multiple gold medallist in the 2019 WMTBOC, who is expecting her second child anytime now. On the other hand, Czech Martina Tichovská, winner of 2 gold and 3 silver medals in 2018, is back after missing the 2019 season for family reasons. She is joined by among others 3 of the top 5 athletes in the World Ranking, her teammate Veronika Kubinova with 3 silver medals from the 2019 WMTBOC, multiple 2019 medalist Camilla Søgaard of Denmark and home favourite Marika Hara of Finland.

Marika Hara (FIN) – looking for a medal on home soil

The Dane Thomas Steinthal, JWMTBOC champion in Sprint and Mass Start in 2019, is now in the senior ranks and for sure will be challenging for top placings. Michaela Gigon, who competed in the first WMTBOC in 2002 and has six gold, five silver and 2 bronze world championship medals to her name, competes again for Austria, and Mervi Pesu, Long champion in 2013, is in the Finnish team.

The JWMTBOC has riders from 14 nations, 36 men and 31 women.

Intense race programme

As with other major orienteering events at present, there will be no spectators and no public races. An ‘athletes’ village’ for all competitors is being established at the Kuortane Olympic Training Centre. The competition programme is intense – five races in six days – and begins with the Mass Start, which together with the Long race will be held close to the Event Centre.

Overall, a big variety of terrain is promised, some “rather flat” with small hills, some with “short and steep climbs” and also hillier areas with cliffs and marshes. Controls will be on roads, tracks or paths, but off-track riding is allowed. Maybe this is not always a good option: race information states “Special features: duckboards on marsh areas – very slippery if wet.”

Web-TV coverage

There will be web-TV transmission from all the races – see the LIVE section of this website – and reports and leading results after the races each day will be posted on this website and IOF social media.

After WMTBOC there is one more round of the CX80 MTBO World Cup, the Final in Abrantes, Portugal in mid-October which doubles as the European MTBO Championships.

WMTBOC Programme (times are CEST + 1)

Saturday 12 June, 10.00 – 14.00  Mass Start, Kuortane

Sunday 13 June, 9.00 – 12.30  Sprint, Seinäjoki

Monday 14 June, 9.50 – 15.00  Middle Distance, Alajärvi

Wednesday 16 June, 10.00 – 16.00  Long Distance, Kuortane

Thursday 17 June, 9.30 – 12.00  Relay, Seinäjoki