August 1/08 5:27 am - World Cup Bromont Preview
Posted by Editoress on 08/1/08
Bromont World Cup Bromont QC
Coverage brought to you with the assistance of Mondial du Velo
The cross-country has everyone here who was in attendance at Mont Ste Anne, highlighted by Julien Absalon (Orbea) for the men and Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain) for the women. Christoph Sauser (Specialized), who had to pull out the day of the race due to a crash and stitches in his knee, has headed back to Switzerland for more medical tests.
The course is now only 4.6 kilometres in length, but that has not made it any less difficult. Women are expected to do four laps and men six. The opening loop of the circuit was removed, since it was so muddy that it had turned into a mud run. Now, the riders head straight up a steep gravel climb from the start. At the top they get a very brief respite as they traverse the hill before heading into the switchback second climb.
This leads into a long descent with a substantial section of muddy, rooty singletrack, after which they do another short, steep climb. At the top of this climb the riders head into a long loop of singletrack, which is rooty, rocky and very slippery, before finishing the lap. There is almost nowhere to rest.
This is the last major competition before the Olympics. Once again, the favourites will be Absalon for the men and Premont for the women, given the absence of many Europeans, who decided to stay home. However, on the men's side Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) will be looking for some revenge after a bad crash knocked him out of contention last week while he was chasing Absalon for the lead. Other podium hopefuls including Geoff Kabush (Maxxis), Burry Stander (GT) and Adam Craig (Giant).
For the women, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) is looking for her first ever World Cup win, as is Lene Byberg (Specialized), and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) is always a threat.
The rain had forced the closing of a major dropoff at the top of the course until this afternoon, when conditions dried out enough to reopen it. The riders roll off the edge of a cliff to drop down onto ramp and a bermed corner. It is spectacular, but should not have a large effect on times. The bigger factor will be the extremely muddy and slippery middle portion of the course, with large wheel swallowing mud holes and slippery jagged rock gardens.
From here the riders come out to a section of wide, sweeping bermed corners and ramped jumps that take them to the finish line. While most riders are concerned about the technical sections, world champion Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal) feels that it is the lower section that could proved to be the winning difference.
"Everyone is going to be focussed on clearing the slow, technical stuff, but I think that it is lowered down where you could make or lose some time." he commented. "You brake too early into a corner, or don't get your speed up coming out of it, and it could make a serious difference."
The top competitors are all here, with the women's race, as usual, likely to be between Rachel Atherton (Animal Commencal) and Sabrina Jonnier (Maxxis). Atherton took over the lead in the World Cup last weekend at Mont Ste Anne, so Jonnier will be looking to regain the jersey this week.
On the men's side, Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz) took the leader's jersey from Sam Hill (Monster Energy/Iron Horse) last week, and holds a 22 point lead in the standings, so Hill will be very anxious to regain the top spot. Gee Atherton is 65 points back, but could conceivably take the lead with a win and a few mistakes by his rivals.
The riders haven't had much chance to try out this newly constructed course, with practice canceled yesterday barely after it had started, due to torrential rain. They have had a chance today, and the consensus is that it is a long, hard course with some big jumps and good passing opportunities. The only name of note missing is women's world champion Melissa Buhl (KHS), the winner last week at Mont Ste Anne, who left Bromont yesterday for personal reasons. This leaves a very sparse field of 9 women, led by World Cup leader Anneke Beerten (MS-Intense). On the men's side, world champion and World Cup leader Rafael Alvarez de Lara Lucas (Specialized) leads a list of 35 riders. Guido Tschugg (Fusion), who lost the World Cup lead last week will be looking to regain it, while Romain Saladini (Sunn) is hoping to improve from last week's second place finish.