Some 140 athletes from 17 nations will gather in the Czech city of Brno this weekend for the 2014 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships.

Competition will get under way on Friday morning with the opening matches of the cycle-ball tournament.  However, it will not be until evening that the current World Champions will play their first match: the Austrian duo of Patrick Schnetzer and Markus Bröll will confront Belgium’s Christoph Baudu and Peter Martens during the third session of Friday’s competition. The Czech public will be gunning for their team of Pavel Šmid and Petr Skoták, World Champions in 2004, who will play Switzerland in the last match of the opening day.

In the absence of eight-times World Champion David Schnabel (Germany), last year’s silver medallist Michael Niedermeier is one of the favourites in the men’s single artistic cycling competition. The German athlete’s results this season show he is in good shape but the competition remains wide open, with all the athletes in the last qualification group on Sunday afternoon capable of putting him under pressure. They include last year’s bronze medallist Chin To Wong (Hong Kong) and 2012 bronze medallist Yannick Martens (Switzerland).

In the Open Pairs competition, the German duo of André and Benedikt Bugner will defend their title won in Basel, Switzerland, last year. Other reigning World Champions in Brno are Germans Katharina Wurster and Jasmin Soika (Women Pairs) and Corinna Biethan (Single Women).

The UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships are the last UCI World Championships of the year with six world titles at stakes: cycle ball and five artistic cycling categories (Single Women, Single Men, Pairs Women, Pairs Open and ACT 4 – team of four women).