Rachel Atherton out of action for three more months

Will downhill star recover in time to defend world title?

Downhill world champion Rachel Atherton will be out of action for the next three to four months after she sustained nerve damage to her left shoulder in a road accident during a pre-season training camp in America.

The Animal Commencal star is undergoing surgery, and hopes to recover in time to defend her title at the World Championships in Australia in September.

In the meantime, she'll be joining Freecaster.tv as a commentator on the Nissan UCI World Cup Series. You can follow Rachel’s recovery on her blog.

Team director Dan Brown said: “The nerve in Rachel’s shoulder has seen little improvement over the past four weeks so the surgeon has taken the decision to operate. We’re hoping Rachel will be back in training in around three to four months so there’s still a chance she will compete at the World Championships."

Fellow Animal Commencal riders Dan and Gee Atherton are looking to stamp their authority on the 2009 season. Dan will be looking for his first 4X win of the season this weekend (1-3 May) at the World Cup round in Houffalize, Belgium. World champion Gee will be looking for top spots in the next downhill rounds in France and Andorra.

With Rachel out of the running for this year's women's World Cup title, all eyes will be on Brit Tracy Moseley and Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier. Moseley is on a new, lighter bike this year (Trek Session 88), and returned to form with a win at the first World Cup round in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Jonnier is always a strong contender, and she's also on a new bike (Rocky Mountain Flatline).

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