Canadian star Catharine Pendrel and the rest of the relay team kick off the mountain bike and trials world championships Wednesday looking to get onto the podium.
Pendrel, from Kamloops, B.C., Victoria's Max Plaxton, Evan McNeely of Kingston, Ont., and Alexandre Vialle of Pevost, Que., will race in an event that has historically been good to Canada.
The country's relay team won world titles in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and took a silver medal in 2009.
Pendrel headlines Canada's mountain bike team in the five-day championship featuring over 800 athletes from 49 countries.
The 31-year-old is ranked No. 1 in women's cross-country by the world governing body of cycling (UCI). Pendrel was fourth at last year's world championship in Mont Sainte-Anne, Que.
Marie-Helene Premont of Chateau Richer, Que., joins Pendrel among medal hopefuls at the world championships. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist is ranked 10th in the world by the UCI.
The competition features cross-country, downhill, relay, four-cross and trials. In trials, riders must navigate a difficult obstacle course. Four-cross features four riders racing head-to-head down a course like the winter sport of ski cross.
The Canadian downhill team and support staff will wear yellow shoelaces in support of teammate and Vancouver native Nick Geddes, who is battling leukemia and unable to compete. Geddes, 18, finished 19th at the world championship in junior men's downhill.
“We are all thinking hard of Nick, who had to stay home to receive treatments,” teammate Claire Buchar of Whistler, B.C., said in a release Tuesday. “When we take to the start gate on Sunday, Nick will be in all our minds.”
Steve Smith of Cassidy, B.C., a world silver medalist in downhill last year, withdrew from the world championships because of an injury he suffered while training for the final World Cup of the season in Italy, according to the Canadian Cycling Association.
Lauren Rosser of Squamish, B.C., will attempt to defend her world title in the junior women's downhill race.