May 25/02 2:19 am - Houffalize World Cup Report: News, Gossip & Speculation
Posted by Editor on 05/25/02
Houffalize World Cup #2 Belgium
This report made possible through the sponsorship of FACT Canada & Schwalbe Tires
Race News and Notes
The start lists have just come out for tomorrow's World Cup event, and the men's start is huge - 209 riders. There would usually be a qualifier, but registration was so low yesterday, that the UCI decided not to hold one today. Of course, then all the riders showed up (which may be exactly why they waited until today to register). The course starts with a major climb, which should help thin things out, but passing stragglers could potentially be a big problem for the leaders tomorrow.
There is speculation that this might be the largest ever starting field for a World Cup. Luckily, all Canadians are in the top 64 on the starting grid - Roland Green (plate number 2), Seamus McGrath (13), Chris Sheppard (28), Ryder Hesjedal (29) and Andreas Hestler (64). Miguel Martinez is also well back, in 49th place.
The women's field numbers 89, with the biggest addition from last week being world number ranked Barbara Blatter. Blatter missed last week with bronchitis, and the word is that she is not yet fully recovered. She will also have a bit of a struggle to make it to the front, because she is starting well back in 47th place, on the fifth row. Canadians will start with Alison Sydor in 5th place, Chrissy Redden in 18th, Marie-Helene Premont 29th, Kiara Bisaro 37th and Trish Sinclair 43rd.
The number of laps has finally been decided - 4 laps for the women, 5 for the men.
The weather is on everyone's mind, as it will affect equipment selection greatly. Here is what some of the riders are saying:
Chrissy Redden - "I only brought my hardtail. It is so light, and there is so much climbing that I think it is best. But, the course was so bumpy when I rode it today, that my Sugar would have been good if it is dry." Redden is looking for a good result to move up from the second row start, a position she is not used to.
Roland Green - "Hardtail (Trek 9.8) in the mud, Fuel (full suspension) if it is dry. I would like the Fuel for both, but there are too many places for mud to build up if it is wet."
Miguel Martinez - "Hardtail. It is what I have here, and the climbing is very hard."
Marga Fullana - "I ride my hardtail and Hutchinson Python tires. For the climbing I want light weight."
Marie-Helene Premont - "Hardtail. This course is very hard, with much climbing, so I think the hardtail is the best choice."
Sabine Spitz - "It is so different when it is wet versus when it is dry. This makes it especially hard to decide on tires. But for the the bike I chose the hardtail."
Thomas Frischknecht - "I haven't decided yet which bike or tires. For the climbs, especially if it is wet, you need tread, so it will never be a semi-slick. The bike (full suspension versus hardtail) depends on whether it is wet or dry, so I have to wait to decide."
How the riders pick the race:
|Their Picks||Roland Green||BartBrentjens||Ryder Hesjedal||Roel Paulissen||FilipMeirhaeghe|
|TheirPicks||Marga Fullana||Gunn-Rita Dahle||Alison Dunlap||Annabella Stropparo||CarolineAlexander|
Other bits and pieces:
- There are rumours floating around that Paola Pezzo will return to racing. An Italian journalist confirmed the rumour, but said that he does not believe Pezzo is close to making a decision at this point.
- Houffalize is a beautiful little village in the south east corner of Belgium, close to the Luxembourg border. The town is in a valley, with high hills surrounding it. Many of the houses are built into the sides of the hills. The town closes the streets during the race, and it costs 3 Euros (about $4.25) to get in as a spectator. The race starts in the middle of town, climbs out through the streets on a kilometre climb of up to 20% before entering the forest surrounding Houffalize. The trails through the forest are twisty, rooty and rough.
- Belgium beer and warm Belgian waffles - mmmmm.