Despite the fact that luck plays a huge role in determining the outcome of a mountain biking race at any level of the sport; certain athletes entering the London 2012 mountain biking event can be relied upon to race near the front of the pack. The race at Hadleigh Park will take place over 4.7 kilometers, with a single race deciding the outcome for both the men's and women's races.
Looking back at the form riders in the 2011 World Championships and World Cup events organized by the International Cycling Union, we see many of the entrants for the London Olympics. Reigning world champions, such as Catharine Pendrel of Canada and Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic, will both race for medals in London. Both Pendrel and Kulhavy won their first World Championships in 2012; although both have featured in the top ten in previous World Championships. Pendrel finished the 2008 Beijing Olympic mountain biking event in fourth place, and later won the 2009 Pan American Games title. In 2010, Pendrel was ranked number one in the UCI World Cup rankings.
In the men's event at the London Games Julien Absalon of France will be favored to win a gold medal; if he can do so it will be his third successive Olympic gold, following the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Games. His domination of the sport is no longer as total as in previous years, but Absalon will hope to add his third Olympic title to his four World Championships. A serious contender to Absalon and Kulhavy is Swiss athlete Nino Schurter. The 26 year old took the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympiad; he was the world champion in 2009, and finished second to Kulhavy in the 2011 World Championships. Spain's Jose Antonio Hermida was well placed in the leading pack during the 2011 World Championships, until a flat tire cost him both time and position in the race. Eventually Hermida finished fourth in the 2011 event.
One of the serious contenders to challenge World Champion Catharine Pendrel for the Olympic title is Poland's Maja Wloszczowska. During the 2011 World Championships women's race Pendrel and Wloszczowska led the field until a flat tire dropped Wloszczowska to second place. The Pole finished in the silver medal position in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and was 2010 World Champion. She enters the Olympics in good form as the winner of the 2012 World Cup event in South Africa. Italy's Eva Lechner took the bronze at the 2011 World Championships, while the top American competitor in the World Championships was Lea Davison in the 10th position.
Paul Cartmell has been riding in a variety of bicycle disciplines, including road racing, mountain bikes and BMX as an amateur for over twenty years.