Banbridge cyclists Gareth McKee and James Curry are ready to making another ‘massive step’ forward.
The duo are off to Andorra this week to take part in the UCI MTB World Championships this week for the first time.
McKee is cycling along with the U23s and the elite riders while Curry is enjoying his final year at junior level.
They’re well qualified to go up against the world’s best as both claimed the Irish title in their respective categories early in the summer.
“It’s all getting quite exciting now that we’re starting to pack and get things ready for going,” said McKee
“I’ve done two really hard weeks of training to get ready but now it’s just about taking things easy and going over there fresh.”
Resting up, however, wasn’t an option for Curry, who was busy racing in the Junior Tour of Wales over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Having raced at the European Championships, James is used to competing against the best.
“I don’t think (the quality) will be much different in the Worlds,” he said. “There are a few good Australians, New Zealanders and Americans who will come over but most of the top cyclists are European anyway.”
The duo, however, may well have their work cut out to claim a finish anywhere near the top of the rankings.
Based on UCI points, Gareth is starting back in 102nd in the group with James in 60th.
“It’s going to be very tough to get past everybody and closer to the top,” said McKee.
“Hopefully I will go alright, be able to get a clear ride and I’ll just see where I can get to.”
James, meanwhile, knows he will have to move quickly to meet his goal.
He said: “It’s at the start that I’ll be looking to make up some ground and get past a few guys but it won’t be easy. There will have to be a few passing opportunities out in the course as well so I’ll give it a go and see where I can get do.
“I’ll love to get a top 50 finish or maybe even better. It’s a massive step so I want to get a good result from it.”
As if coming up against the pick of the world’s mountain-bike riders wasn’t tough enough, there will be an added complication for the Banbridge lads.
“The races will be taking place at altitute as well so that will make it even harder for us because that’s not something we’re used to riding in,” explained Gareth.
“It will be harder to breathe and to get oxygen in but it will all be good experience for us. I’ll give it my all and see where I get to.”
And regardless of their finishes, it’s been a tremendous season for the Irish champions and for their Banbridge Cycling Club, who have gone from success to success all summer.