1. Paola Pezzo (Italy)
Paola Pezzo from Verona in Italy won the women’s World Mountain Bike Championships twice. She was not only famous for her outstanding riding, but also for often having her jersey only zipped halfway up, which was very revealing when she was crouching over the handlebars. Paola had a model’s figure so it was little surprise that she became one of the most popular female cyclists of all time.
2. Jill Kintner (USA)
Jill Kintner’s motto is “all or nothing”. “When I do something, I want to be the best at it,” says Jill. At the tender age of 20, she was at the very top of her career as professional BMX racer. Then she switched to the newly emerging mountain bike sport of four-cross (4X) and she won three consecutive world championship titles. Later she returned to BMX again and at the Beijing Olympics she won a bronze. Her versatility is amazing: She won the US national title in BMX (in 2008), in 4X (2009) and downhill (2010).
3. Jacquie Phelan (USA)
Jacquie Phelan is almost 60 now. She was introduced in the US Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1988, when Europe knew next-to-nothing about mountain biking. She was always special: Her two black pigtails would flail out behind her helmet as she raced and rather than following the pack and getting straight horned handlebars, she stuck with the drop handlebars she had become used to during her cyclocross career.
4. Rachel Atherton (UK)
“Always go with your instincts and always work harder than the rest.” These are two tips for success from Rachel Atherton who comes from what’s a true mountain biking family. Her brothers Dan and Gee both compete at the top and Gee won the Mountain Bike World Championships this year. In 2005 when Rachel started racing, she was declared Sunday Times’ Sportswoman of the Year and BBC Midlands Junior Sportswoman of the Year. Thanks to her regular victories in World Cup events, she has become a highly respected rider.
5. Anne-Caroline Chausson (France)
There are not many riders who are more versatile than Anne-Caroline Chausson. A few years ago she was winning everything she could in downhill, slalom and 4X. She became famous for not giving a damn about the weather or track conditions; all that mattered to her was to stamp those pedals. At the inaugural women’s BMX event at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she came away with gold. Now thirty-seven, Anne-Caroline has left the World Cup scene.