Thursday, September 29, 2016

MTBO World Cup 2016: Ready for the start!



Carefully prepared to ensure for all participants an unforgettable experience, the final round of the World Cup in Mountain Bike Orienteering 2016 began today with the Opening Ceremony, its first big moment. Many of the 350 competitors from 24 nations paraded through the old town of Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, lending it brightness and colour.


Australia opened and Lithuania closed the parade from the Event Centre to the Town Hall Square, brightening the streets of Kaunas in the mid-afternoon. There were many Masters and Elite athletes who came to join the Opening Ceremony under their respective flags, leaving a note of appreciation to the hard-working organisation of a country hosting, for the first time ever, the great world names of MTB orienteering.

This is a unique opportunity for the Lithuanian Orienteering Federation to present this exciting discipline, one year prior to the World MTB Orienteering Championships to be held in the country’s capital, Vilnius. And it is with eyes on 2017 that the Lithuanian Gabrielė Keinaitė Andrašiūnienė talks about this event: “It’s really nice to have all the best riders in the world here, but I believe this is really just preparation for next year’s World Championships in Vilnius.” Whilst looking forward to Vilnius, Gabrielė keeps her focus on the next days’ competitions and adds: “I’m really excited about them. The terrain suits me, there are no big climbs, there’s a dense track network and I believe it will be quite fun.” In her first year in the Elite, Gabrielė shares her goal: “I’m aiming for the top 20. I believe that I have good chances for reaching such a position, but I’m sure that next year I and all my team mates will be going for the top 10.”

After winning four gold medals in the recent Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships, the Czech rider Veronika Kubinova will have her first competition ever in the Elite in Kaunas. This afternoon she was the participant with the biggest smile, and she had good reasons for that: “I’m absolutely excited. One week ago, the national coach invited me to come to Lithuania. I haven’t trained for these races and I really don’t know what to expect in my first time in this category.” Another thing Veronika doesn’t know is how big the step is from Junior to Elite, but … “After the races I’ll know,” she says with a big laugh. She is also looking forward to the next World Championships: “I’m happy to be here because I have the chance to see the terrain.” But for now it’s time to think about the competitions: “I believe that my biggest chance is in the Sprint. Many route choices, a demanding course … yes, I believe that I can do well, maybe a top 15.”

Tomorrow it will be time for the first stage, a demanding Long Distance race at Kleboniškis. The Masters will start at 09:30 a.m. and the Elite at 11:30. Everything can be followed at http://www.mtbo.lt/.

[Photos from the Opening Ceremony can be seen at https://plus.google.com/photos/108054301526873509793/albums/6335782402473617793]

Joaquim Margarido

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