THREE mountain bikers from the Forest of Dean will compete this weekend at the Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup held in Bielsko-Biała, Poland.

WIll Haines, 18, from Soudley, Billy Pugh, 17, from Staunton and Charlie Hatton, 26 (current Downhill Senior Men's Champion), from Ellwood, make up the trio hoping to bring the titles home to the Forest. 

While the 2024 Whoop UCI Mountain Bike World Series begins Friday, May 17, the action for the Forest three gets underway this Sunday (May 19) at 11am, broadcast via their YouTube channel.

Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body for cycling, holds the global series. This year, it started in Fort William, Scotland, before the current round in Poland. 

Next, it’s in Leogang in Austria, before the final round at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada in October.

The three boys, who grew up using the Forest of Dean trails with a youth mountain bike club called “Little Fodders”, will now be representing their local community and sponsors, Pedalabikeaway & Pedal Syndicate on the big stage. 

Gareth Sheppard, Director at Pedalabikeaway and Pedal Syndicate & WyeMT said “We’re so proud of our boys”

“Will was one of our first Little Fodder riders nearly 10 years ago, and is now representing us at the Junior World Cup on his Pivot Phoenix and if that isn’t cool enough, there’s another ex-Little Fodder and Forest of Dean local in this Junior World Cup too - young Billy Pugh who made his World Cup debut on May 5 at Fort William! 

“And obviously we can't forget the Forest of Dean's own current World Champ Charlie Hatton, in the men's elite too. What a hat trick!

“Their determination, skill, and sportsmanship exemplify the spirit of our region, and we are proud to cheer them on as they chase their dreams on the world stage.

“We can’t wait to watch the action - we’re opening up our back room in the Pedalabikeaway Cafe (at the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre) for supporters that can't make it to Bielsko-Biała, to come and watch the action live from 11am this Sunday. It’s going to be epic!”

Pedalabikeaway is a bike hire and shop located at the Forest of Dean Cycle Centre. They work closely with Forestry England and Dean Trail Volunteers.

Owners Gareth Sheppard and Ian Officer also own Wye MTB which runs coaching and Little Fodders, which has trained hundreds of youngsters over the years the skills to ride safely and competitively.

Gareth said: “The Forest of Dean has long been a breeding ground for exceptional mountain biking talent. Now, three of its own are gearing up to showcase their skills on the global stage to test their mettle on the world class courses.

“It’s one of the only locations in the country where there are literally trails for all abilities from gentle family cycle trails to advanced downhill tracks.

“It has become a hot bed for mountain biking since the late ‘90's and it is great to see all this local talent emerging from the local club and going on to compete at such a high level.”

The growing popularity of the sport is shown by the governing body UCI. It manages and promotes all cycling disciplines of road, track, mountain bike, BMX Racing, BMX Freestyle, cyclo-cross, trials, indoor cycling, cycling esports, gravel and snow bike. Five of these are featured on the Olympic Games.

The Forest trio will have the backing of its sponsors and supporters, alongside the greater community. If you miss the live event, you can catch up on the official YouTube channel, Discovery+, or watch the Men’s highlights on Eurosport 1, Sunday, May 19, 8pm.