June 5/04 4:44 am - One Hour to Women's Start
Posted by Editor on 06/5/04
Fort William World Cup - Scotland
World Cup coverage sponsored by Vélirium 2004 and ORYX
So far, with about an hour before the start of the women's race, the rain is holding off. Â There is high cloud, but the sun is showing through occasionally. Â The big name missing from the women's start is Paola Pezzo (Gatorade-Specialized). Â Pezzo cracked last week in the final lap of the long and hard Houffalize race, dropping out while sliding back out of the top-ten. Â No one seems to know why she is not here, but speculation is she has headed back home to resume her own training program.
Pezzo is preselected for the only Italian women's Olympic spot, despite the fact that Annabella Stropparo has been riding stronger all spring. Â There is some talk that Pezzo needs to avoid "head-to-head" races against Stropparo to make sure comparisons about fitness aren't discussed. Â on the other hand, Pezzo has shown twice, in 1996 and 2000, that she can prepare herself perfectly for the Olympics.
The crowds are already arriving for the races, using the very efficient shuttle service laid on by the organizers. Â Last year, 15,000 showed up and paid at this relatively remote location, and they have already sold that many tickets for this year. Â The majority will be on Sunday, since the fans love the downhill! Â Unlike the last two weeks, when qualifiers had to be held for the men's cross-country, that field is only 125, while the downhill qualifier has 147 men.