July 16/03 11:21 am - Mountain Bike Nationals Report
Posted by Editor on 07/16/03
Mountain Bike Nationals
This report made possible through the sponsorship of Rocky Mountain Bicycles
We are up in Whistler, getting ready for the Mountain Bike Nationals (tomorrow we are riding the new Shimano Saint group, our Tech Editor Mike Badyk will have a full report).
Some brief notes on the Nationals:
the cross-country course is still being marked, but riders including Peter Wedge (Kona-Clarks), Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain-Crystal Decisions) and Trish Sinclair (GearsRacing.com) have been riding it. They describe it as very rocky and rough, meaning there is a high potential for flats. Lots of climbing, but particularly technical. More details to follow.
for the first time in a few years, the Mountain Bike Nationals is not an open event, meaning that foreign riders cannot participate. Normally, there would only be a few foreigners who would be interested, however, this year, with the event in Whistler only a week after the World Cup, there was a lot of interest. The entire Giant team had booked their travel to come to Whistler, and I spoke with Filip Meirhaeghe, who also expressed interest. They are all out of luck (as is the organizer, who would have had a world-class field).
Why did the CCA decide to close the Nationals? Well, it comes down to UCI points and the Olympics. To gain the maximum of starting positions in the Olympics, countries are scrambling to maintain or increase rankings. The top 5 countries for men get three starting positions, and the top three countries for women. Below those positions it drops to 2 spots. Right now, Canada has three spots for both men and women, but a less than stellar spring campaign by the Canadian pros in Europe means that some other countries have a chance to move ahead. Hence, the effort to ensure that Canadian's take maximum points at the Nationals (the first riders across the line take the points, but the top Canadian becomes national champion).
So, there may be a reason for closing the Nationals, but it is too bad that we don't get to see a World Cup field in Whistler...
we ran into Elladee Brown (1990 Worlds DH silver medallist) and Daamian Skelton (former National DH champion) on the streets of Whistler Village today. Daamian is busy working as a mountain bike guide and training other mountain bike guides. Elladee is working for Shimano (and will be taking us out riding tomorrow...).
racing begins on Friday afternoon with the Whistler Village crit, followed by the Downhill on Saturday, and the Cross-country on Sunday. (There is no Team Relay or Dual/4-Cross events at the 2003 Nationals).