Posted by Editoress on 06/25/04
Mont Ste. Anne World Cup - Pre-Race Report
by Mike Badyk
The annual MSA World Cup race is starting to become it's usual hive of activity with the Quebec Cup races taking place this morning. After lots of hard work yesterday the pit/expo area is now assembled and the numerous spectators have already started to wander about.
The 2004 race is going to be one of change. Unlike the previous 2 years where the heat has been so ferocious, this year has a forecast of temperatures in the low 20's and reduced humidity. Everyone concerned with the event is relieved on that front. Everything had been nice and dry this week, but a good thunderstorm last night has soaked the property. DH training has been postponed until noon today to let it dry out. The bike wash station was doing booming business this morning after the Quebec Cup XC races. Again, this is quite the contrast to last year's dust bowl.
Each of the three disciplines, (XC, DH and 4X) have a new race course. The XC course is much, much shorter than it has been in previous years, at only 5.4km per lap, and it follows a substantially different route. The traditional start along the gravel road and then up the long climb past the gondola building is gone. Instead the racers will turn immediately up hill from the start, through the feed zone and then eventually hook into the climb. The loop that brought the course back down to the finish area midway through a lap is also gone. The course map suggests that there is 40% single track, but I feel that is optimistic. Overall, the lap times are going to be very fast. In a brief conversation with the chief commissaire yesterday, he was considering 8 laps for the elite men plus the 1km start loop. That is going to work out to about 15 minutes per lap. We'll try to get some impressions from the racers before Sunday's event.
The downhill has been made longer, now up to 1.7km. There was much criticism about the fairly obscure start last year. It required a bit of a hike-a-bike up to the start ramp from the chairlift. This year, the course starts much higher on the mountain, with the riders using the gondola and then riding down a few minutes to the start (for those that know the mountain, the start is in the second section of open ski run below the top of the gondola). The course hooks right into the woods and then over the big wooden ramp that was part of last year's start. Things are much the same through the lower part of the course, with several large jumps, with the finish once again using the 4X course.
Perhaps the biggest changes are associated with the 4X course. Gone are the berms. Gone is the huge jump that claimed many riders last year. It is mostly a straight shot down the hill with wide jumps and one small corner. It is much less challenging than in previous years. The course was still being tinkered with as of Thursday afternoon, but it seems to be set now. There are a lot of riders registered for the 4X and hopefully there will be some good racing on hand.
There is a lot of training going on today as well as many media events. There are some press conferences involving some of the racers this afternoon that we will report on later. Time for a ride!
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