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Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 17:21 UK

Atherton in world title defence

Gee Atherton

Gee Atherton says will have to be at his best to retain the UCI Mountain Bike World Downhill title in Canberra.

"It's all or nothing in two and half minutes after all the training and preparations," the Oswestry-based rider told BBC Radio Shropshire.

"I've spent the last five weeks fine tuning, the mechanics have been working on a bike built for this event - and it's all down to these few moments.

"I'm up against the best who'll be trying to knock me off my pedestal."

Atherton, who has eyed "five or six" challengers for his title, including in-form fellow-Briton Steve Peat, added: "I'm the one with the world title, so I'm the sitting duck.

I've had some bad luck this year and I'm a bit off the pace

Gee Atherton

"But if I keep my head and stay relaxed I can do it, but I know I've got my work cut out."

Last year Atherton was part of a unique double, when his sister Rachel won the women's world title.

But she cannot compete in Canberra as she is still recovering from a shoulder injury sustained when she was hit by a lorry in training earlier this year.

Her brother has a busy schedule after the event in Australia.

"I've had some bad luck this year and I'm a bit off the pace," he admitted. "But there's still a lot of racing to be done.

"I fly home for a day, then it's straight out to Austria, Las Vegas, Brazil, and South Africa," added Atherton, who is currently lying fourth in the ongoing World Cup series, his close rival Peat is second.

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