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Astle preparing for first world championships

Whistler product lone junior girl off to Andorra



Georgia Astle has a fair bit to build on from 2015.

She won the UCI 17-18 junior girls' division at the Canadian DH Championships at Sun Peaks in July, edging out fellow local Stephanie Denroche.

And then, earlier this month, the 18-year-old made her UCI World Cup debut, placing 13th — the very middle of the pack — in the elite women's category at Mont Ste. Anne, Que. Astle was just over 37 seconds off the lead.

Her strides this season have earned her a trip even further afield, as she will be the lone Canadian to represent her country in the junior women's division at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships from Aug. 31 to Sept. 6.

"It's so exciting. It's going to be such a great experience for me to go to Andorra with the national team," Astle said. "Since I'm the only junior girl going, it'll be really fun to hang out with all the elite women there."

Though Astle had received indications from Cycling Canada brass she'd likely be getting a nod while at nationals, nothing was officially set in stone until she received an email a couple weeks afterward saying she'd officially made the team.

Astle explained she anticipates she'll be up against a bit tougher competition than she was at other events this season, especially with several European riders who don't generally make the trip across the pond to North America.

"I expect there to be a lot more junior women than in Mont Ste. Anne," she said.

However, since she won't know her competition until she touches down in Andorra, Astle is more interested in looking at her times as opposed to her placement. In particular, she'll be focusing on the elite women's results to see where she stacks up.

"It's hard to say how many juniors show up," she said. "Compared to the elite women, it would be really cool if I could get a top 25."

In addition to the results this season, Astle explained the process has been there as well. She said she has significantly improved her mental toughness off the track, as she approaches the pre-race course walk with a better understanding of them. That works its way down the line as she feels much better during the race as well.

"I've gained a lot of confidence and I've been able to put in my skills where I need them," she said. "I've been able to tone down my nerves and just been able to ride."

Physically, meanwhile, she's better equipped to tackle the courses as she's another year stronger, meaning the bigger jumps and high-speed sections come a little bit more easily.

Astle is slated to leave Aug. 27 and plans to use the race as an opportunity to do more racing in Europe, as she is extending the trip into October with the Enduro World Series stops in France and Italy before returning home.

"I've been doing a lot of preparations just figuring out my travelling," she said.

Claire Buchar is also slated to attend the worlds.