May 8/08 2:37 am - UCI Downhill World Cup #1 Preview
Posted by Editor on 05/8/08
UCI Downhill World Cup #1 Preview
by Larry Ireland
The 2008 UCI MTB World Cup Gravity season is set to kick off here in Maribor, Slovenia this Saturday with 4X competition, and on Sunday with the Downhill.
The courses here for 2008 are similiar to what we have seen in the past. The downhill is tight and twisty up top with plenty of roots to go around. The legendary rock garden is now slightly tighter, forcing riders into more technical lines. MS Intense's Matti Lehikoinen spoke jokingly during walking inspection. "A lot of local Joes are going to have problems qualifying". There happen to be a lot of local Joes here this year, with 290 registered for the men's downhill.
The lower sections of the course retain the full speed, no brakes gully run to the finish. Many more roots are exposed than last year, and there have been some minor changes made, with more corners added. The finish line table top is gone, and instead riders will sprint off a jump out of the woods and hightail it for the laser at the line.
If it rains, the course will be treacherous, but only a small possibility of precipitation is in the forecast.
The 4X course is long, fast and dark again. Two sections launch into the woods, and will be extremely dark come race time. The lower section happens to contain two massive doubles that have already eaten up more than a couple of wheels. The wallride is back, much to a few riders' dismay. World Champion Brian Lopes was leading here last year when he slipped and was passed on the wallride. "Maybe I wasn't wearing my gameface last year" Lopes said when discussing the course.
Claire Buchar and Steve Smith are both here to represent Canada. The World Cup circus also includes two Montreal-based mechanics this year. Matt Dupelle is working for Cove Bikes and JP Simard will be wrenching on Kenda/Tomac team bikes. All seemed excited to be here for the start of the new season, but were unable to pass on comments due to busy first day schedules of bike building, course walking and general running around. Canadian Cyclist will catch up with them for comments after DH practice tomorrow.