September 12/03 8:30 am - Kaprun World Cup Preview 2
Posted by Editoress on 09/12/03
The rain continues to play havoc with racing and training at the World Cup Final in Kaprun, Austria. Currently, the situation is as follows: The 4-Cross is postponed, with a final decision tomorrow at 10:00 am local (4:00 am EDT) about whether or not they will be able to fit it on Saturday. If not, it will take place on Sunday after the cross-country. Downhill training is on hold right now, but will start up again this afternoon if the rain backs off (which is not likely), and the Downhill Final is still scheduled to take place tomorrow. Some 4-Cross riders are already complaining that they will not be able to change their air tickets to meet the new schedule.
Since 6:00 am this morning the valley has echoed with the sound of a helicopter (photo) bringing load after load of crushed gravel to spread on the muddy soup that is the 4-Cross course. The problem is that the course was made by just scraping the grass cover off of the topsoil underneath. The topsoil was not packed down, so when it started to rain, everything just turned into slop, making it completely unrideable. There is much skepticism that enough gravel can be brought in to completely fill up the mud.
The downhill has its own problems - the grassy corners are all off-camber, so everyone is sliding out and heading directly towards . . . barbed wire! Most riders are stopping before the wire, but a few riders have become entangled. The other concern that riders have is the amount of cow manure mixed in with the mud, and the danger of getting sick.
So far, everything is fine for the cross-country, although the creeks are getting pretty close to bursting their banks . . .
To pass the time, the organizers managed to pull together some of the new world champions for a press conference / kaffeeklasch. photo
We had a chance to speak with elite cross-country champions Filip Meirhaeghe (Specialized) and Sabine Spitz (Merida International), plus 4-Cross champion Michal Prokop. It was confirmed at the conference that women's Downhill and 4-Cross world champion Anne-Caroline Chausson (Commencal) will not be coming to Kaprun, after all.
Both Spitz and Meirhaeghe said that the week after winning their titles had been hectic.
"I went home Monday to Wednesday, and it was very stressful." said Spitz "The telephone was always ringing, both at my house and my parents, and the local press people were wanting talk to me all the time. It was more peaceful for me to come here, and now I can finally take in my victory."
"The next day I was a lot more sore than usual (after a race), and I had trouble walking down stairs, which shows how hard the race was." said Meirhaeghe "The first couple of days were really hard for me to believe that I had won. When I woke up each morning, I was always looking across the room to see that it (the rainbow jersey) was still there. There are still moments even now when i cannot stop smiling. The new (Specialized) rainbow jerseys arrive today, and I am asking Susan, our team manager, every 5 minutes: 'Is it here yet, is it here yet?'. I still will not really know what it feels like until I am on the start line."
Both riders also commented on the current schedule, which puts the World Cup Final one week after the World Championships.
Spitz: "In the past, the Worlds ended the season, and I think it is very hard for riders to re-motivate when the Final is a week later. We have a saying in German: 'the air is out of the body'. "
Meirhaeghe: "The pressure is definitely off here, but it is a good thing that the new world champion can show off the jersey. I am more relaxed here and not as worried, since I cannot win the World Cup overall."