July 7/11 17:42 pm - Windham World Cup Preview
Posted by Editoress on 07/7/11
The Mountain Bike World Cup has headed south to Windham, New York, in the Catskills Mountains north of New York City. This is the second year for this event, which had a very successful debut as the World Cup Final in 2010. For 2011, Windham will play host to round five of both the Cross-country and the Downhill, but not the 4-Cross.
The weather is expected to remain as hot as it was in Mont Ste Anne, last weekend, pushing 30 Celcius during the middle part of the day when racing takes place, so it will likely play factor in the cross-country. There is a possibility of rain on Friday, which could make things muddy, but the weekend is forecast to have fine weather, and the majority of the course should dry up.
Both the cross-country and downhill courses are little changed from last year. The 5.5 kilometre cross-country course is very straightforward - a long, long climb to the highest point and then fast descent to the start-finish. Due to the long opening climb a start loop is not required to spread out the field. Elite men will do six laps, Elite women and Under-23 Men five, and Under-23 Women four.
The same fields that started at Mont Ste Anne are scheduled to race in Windham, with the exception of Sabine Spitz (Central Haibike). Spitz crashed hard on the descent at Mont Ste Anne, dropping out of the race, however, she had already planned on skipping Windham. The men's field will once again be missing Julien Absalon (Orbea).
For the women, it should again be a battle between last week's winner Catharine Pendrel (Luna) and World Cup leader Julie Bresset (BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry). Bresset crashed quite hard in Mont Ste Anne, but finished third and should be recovered for this week. Pendrel won at Windham last year. Other women to watch for include Irina Kalentieva (Topeak-Ergon), Marie-Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and, possibly shooting for her first World Cup podium, Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek).
On the men's side, Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) is proving to be unbeatable - in the absence of Absalon. He dominated last week, taking back the leader's jersey, and is the clear favourite here in Windham. Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) will almost certainly be a podium contender, and world champion Jose Hermida (Multivan-Merida) is coming on form with a strong third place last week. On the North American side, Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) will be looking to improve upon seventh at Mont Ste Anne, and Todd Wells (Specialized) is hopefully recovered from his crash last week.
For the Downhill, the 1.8 kilometre run takes riders through the trees for much of its length, offering a combination of rocks and roots that favour technically proficient riders.
The Trek World Racing duo of Tracy Moseley and Aaron Gwin are proving to be almost unbeatable this season, with each having wins in three out of the four World Cups thus far, including last weekend. Floriane Pugin (Scott 11) is the only rider to beat Moseley this year in the women's competition (at round three, in Leogang, Austria), and she was less than two seconds back in Mont Ste Anne, so Moseley's victory is by no means assured.
Similarly for the men's field, Gwin was second in qualifying last week to Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate), and the two were virtually tied in the final run until Minnaar crashed in the lower half of the course. Minnaar injured his hand in his crash, but it does not appear to be bothering him too much in training here at Windham.