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Matt Walker relishing reception from home crowd at Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William

Matt Walker, 2020 Overall World Cup Champion.
Matt Walker, 2020 Overall World Cup Champion.

Matt Walker is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to share his recent success with the home crowd at this weekend’s Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Fort William.

More than 21,000 spectators are expected to attend this weekend, when the World Cup event returns to Aonach Mor for the first time in three years.

Englishman Walker has savoured glory during that period of Covid disruption, becoming the Overall World Cup Champion in 2020.

The 22-year-old says that will make his return to Fort William all the more special this time around.

Walker, who is from Shropshire, said: “I’m really excited. I have had quite a lot of success there when I was in the juniors. I won my first World Cup there.

“Myself and Reece Wilson have had some really big success in the Covid years when we have not been racing at Fort William.

Matt Walker is one of 250 world-class riders who will be competing.

“It’s the first chance for both of us to ride in front of our home crowd, at our own World Cup, since having so much success.

“It will be really interesting to see what the atmosphere is like because I have felt so much more support since doing so well in 2020.

“At the home World Cup, I think it will be mega.”

Solid start to season in Lourdes

Walker goes into this weekend’s event with confidence, having finished 10th in the opening World Cup event at Lourdes, in France, in March.

He feels that gives him a strong starting point for the World Cup year, adding: “For me it was a really nice, solid start. I started the 2021 season 12 months ago with quite a poor result, and I struggled to build momentum into the season.

“It took me all the way until the end of the season to get back to where I know I can be.

“This time around I feel in a much better place to start. If I’m finishing in the top-10, that’s a great start.

“I have been riding well in the last couple of weeks, so I’m taking good confidence from that.

“The goal is to be back on the podium at Fort William. That’s a realistic goal.

“I’m really excited as it feels like it has been a little while since I could say hand on heart I’m going there to be on the podium.”

Preparation is complete for World Cup stage

Walker insists the hard yards have already been done ahead of the two-day event, which begins on Saturday.

Walker said: “The preparation has kind of finished. We have had six weeks since the first round at Lourdes.

“I have been pretty busy knuckling down and working on things I felt needed to be worked on for Fort William.

Aonach Mor.

“We had a national race on the same track only last week, which is always good preparation.

“I am in a pretty good place now. In the last few days I have just been taking it easy and getting a bit of rest.

“There is nothing more I can really do that will prepare me any more than the work I have put in up to this point.

“It’s just about being fresh and full of energy for the weekend.”

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