2012 Mountain Bike World Championships – Instant Expert guide

What is it?

The UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships take place just once a year. While the World Cup series is all about consistency, at the World Champs it's the fastest rider on the day who gets the glory.

What sorts of riding are we talking about?

It's the downhill (DH) and four-cross (4X) racing that we're interested in here at ChopMTB, but there are also cross-country and XC eliminator races (riders in Lycra sweating a lot), plus a trials competition (guys hopping about on weird-looking bikes with small wheels).

Where is it?

The venue changes every year. The 2012 Worlds are taking place in Austria, with the DH and 4X at Leogang and the XC, XCE and trials at its sister resort, Saalfelden. Beer, bratwurst and bikes – what more can you want?

You can't beat 4X for a bit of fast and furious racing. Picture by Ale Di Lullo

You can't beat 4X for a bit of fast and furious racing. Picture by Ale Di Lullo

When is it?

Riders began to arrive on-site at the weekend, ahead of the official opening ceremony today. The 'gravity' side of the event ends on Sunday with the DH finals.

'World' Champs? Surely it's mostly Yanks, Brits, Aussies and Frenchies?

The usual World Cup powerhouses are present and correct but nations like Iran and Kazakhstan are also having a shot. There are 243 riders from 34 nations on the DH start list (122 senior men, 36 senior women, 75 junior men, 10 junior women), and 78 listed for the 4X (56 men, 12 women). View the start lists here.

What's up for grabs?

The winners in each discipline get a cheque (€2,333 for senior DH, €1,667 for 4X and a doesn't-even-cover-their-fuel-costs €267 for juniors) but also – more importantly – shitloads of publicity and the right to wear the world champion's rainbow stripes on their sleeve for the rest of their career.

Aaron Gwin won the last World Cup here – are we in line for a repeat performance? Picture from Rasoulution

Aaron Gwin won the last World Cup here – are we in line for a repeat performance? Picture from Rasoulution

How can I watch it?

The 4X and senior DH finals will be screened live on Red Bull TV.

Turn the page to find out more about the DH, and turn to page 3 for the lowdown on the 4X…