September 14/03 4:56 am - World Cup XC Preview, Revised 2004 World Cup Schedule
Posted by Editor on 09/14/03
It is just under 1 hour to the start of the women's cross-country at the World Cup Final here in Kaprun. The weather gods appear to be finally smiling on the organizers, and, gasp, is that a patch of blue sky I see!!! Actually, in some ways the racers would prefer that it stay wet, because the drying ground is getting tacky and will make the riding very hard.
The women are scheduled to do 4 laps, and the men 6. Eric Wallace, team manager at Trek-VW, says that they had to argue that down from 7 laps, and that 6 is still going to be a very long race, in these conditions.
"The guys have been doing 25 minute laps, so we could be looking at a very long race."
There are 77 women on the start list, with only one of the top competitors missing - Barb Blatter (Specialized), who is still recovering from her fall at the Worlds last week. Blatter, you may remember, had a very bad fall at Grouse one year ago, and is still suffering neck problems. When she landed on her head at Lugano, and suffered a slight concussion, her team decided that it was much better to let her recover fully.
This means that two Canadians can potentially move up in the overall World Cup rankings - Marie-Helene Premont (Oryx) from 5th to 4th, and Alison Sydor (Trek-VW) from 6th to 5th. Besides Premont and Sydor, there are 3 other Canadian women at Kaprun - Kiara Bisaro (Gears), Trish Sinclair (Gears) and Sandra Walter. Chrissy Redden is, of course, missing because of the broken wrist she suffered in Lugano.
The men's field contains 159 riders, with a potentially more exciting race than the women's (Gunn-Rita Dahle (Merida) has already wrapped up the women's title), since there are still four riders in the hunt for the title (Julien Absalon (Motorex Bianchi) leads the standings, 65 points ahead of Christoph Sauser (Siemens Mobile Cannondale)). There are 10 Canadians in the race, led by Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher). Roland Green (Trek-VW) is not here (as previously reported), due to illness. The other Canadians are: Geoff Kabush (Kona Clarks), Seamus McGrath (Haro-Lee Dungarees), Peter Wedge (Kona Clarks), Chris Sheppard (Haro-Lee Dungarees), Mat Toulouse (Gears), Kris Sneddon (Kona), James Van Toever, Andrew Watson and Mike Garrigan.
In other news, the 2004 World Cup schedule has been revised and firmed up even more than our previous report. Right now, it looks like 8 races in total, with 7 cross-country events and 6 downhill / 4-cross races. the schedule appears to be as follows (again, subject to change,as the UCI finalizes contracts with organizers):
May 22-23 - Madrid, Spain, XC only
May 29-30 - Houffalize, Belgium, XC only
June 5-6 - Fort William, Scotland, XC / DH / 4X
June 12-13 - European location, DH / 4X only
June 26-27 - Mont Ste Anne, Quebec, XC / DH / 4X
July 3-4 - Calgary, Alberta, XC / DH / 4X
July 10-11 - Grouse Mtn, BC or Brazil, XC / DH / 4X
July 18 - National Championships
August 1 - Continental Championships
September 9-12 - World Championships in Les Gets, France
September 18-19 - Kaprun, Austria, XC / DH / 4X (although the UCI is backing away quickly after the problems this year)
Brazil seems to have the inside edge over Grouse, since the UCI does not want three events in the same country, and they would like to have an event in South America. The recent BMX Worlds in Brazil were reportedly very well run, with over 65,000 fans attending.