Posted by Editor on 08/6/15
The Mountain Bike World Cup moves to Windham, New York, this weekend for the penultimate rounds of both the Downhill and Cross-country series.
This year is the fifth time Windham has hosted the World Cup, and once again it will play a critical role in determining the overall World Cup champions. Less than 90 minutes drive from New York City, this village of less than 2000 inhabitants in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of Rip van Winkle fame is rolling out the red carpet as it seeks to transform itself from a quaint ski town to a four-season vacation destination.
The action begins on Friday afternoon with qualifying for the Downhill, Round 6 in the series. The Windham course has been slightly extended from previous years at 1.628 kilometres, with a vertical drop of 390 metres. It takes riders through the trees for much of its length, offering a combination of rocks and roots, and some sizable jumps.
World Cup leader Rachel Atherton
Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) has all but wrapped up the women's title, with four consecutive wins. Second place in the rankings is held by Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker), the defending champion at Windham, but the French rider is out of action after crashing in training before the MSA round, leaving world champion Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) the only rider with a slight mathematical chance of catching Atherton for the title. Canada had two women in the top-10 at Mont Ste Anne last weekend, with Canadian champion Miranda Miller finishing fifth for her first World Cup podium, and Casey Brown (Bergamont Hayes) in seventh. Miller will miss Windham, but Brown will be looking to score her first podium of the year.
World Cup leader Aaron Gwin
The men's competition is much tighter, with World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (Specialized) only 25 points ahead of Loic Bruni (Lapierre Gravity Republic) and South Africa's Greg Minnaar at 70 points. Defending Windham and World Cup overall champion Josh Bryceland is coming off a strong win at MSA last weekend, and will certainly be a contender. Canada's Mark Wallace (Devinci Global Racing) had a career-high sixth at MSA, and moved into the top-20 overall, making him a protected rider during qualifying. His team mate Steve Smith continues to work his way back into form after a series of injuries and is up to 27th in the overall standings.
The Cross-country circuit has been modified from previous years, with the long opening climb now zig-zagging across the open ski hill rather then through the woods. Once the riders reach top of the climb, they traverse across to a long technical descent back to the start-finish.
Jolanda Neff (Stoeckli Pro Team) is in a dominant position for the women's title after three wins in four events, with 900 points to Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa's (Multivan Merida) 790, followed by world champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna) at 670 points, with Pan Am Games champion Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing) fifth in the standings. Pendrel is the defending Windham champion.
Pendrel won in 2014
The men's race is expected to be a battle between World Cup leader Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo), who won last week at MSA and at Windham last year, and world champion Julien Absalon (BMC), who finished only seconds behind Schurter last week. Last year, Schurter beat Absalon here by a mere six seconds. Canadian and Pan Am Games champion Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain) was 14th at MSA and will be looking to continue his string of strong performances.
Schurter won in 2014
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