September 9/05 2:50 am - MTB World Cup Final "Fort Bill" preview
Posted by Editoress on 09/9/05
MTB World Cup Final Fort William, Scotland
The sun came out in Fort William, Scotland, this afternoon, as the top mountain bikers prepare for the World Cup Final. The field has dwindled, with a number of riders ending their season after last week's world championships in Livigno, Italy. Some of the excitment has been taken out of the competition due to the fact that most of the World Cup titles have already been decided. Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan-Merida) has won the women's cross-country title, as has Christoph Sauser (Siemmens Cannondale) in the men's field. Brian Lopes has sewn up the men's 4-cross title with the season-ending injury of main rival Mickael Prokop last week at the world championships. The women's category is still open, with Anneke Beerten (Specialized) and new world champion Jill Kintner in a virtual tie. The Downhill shows a similar story - Greg Minnaar (Honda) has wrapped up the men's title, but the women's still has the mathematical chance of an upset. Sabrina Jonnier leads Tracy Moseley, but a strong showing by Moseley and a crash or DNF by Jonnier could change things (we are required to say this by the rather partisan organizers...).
The organizers have changed the usual order of events, with the cross-country tomorrow (Saturday) followed by the 4-cross in the evening. The Downhill will take place on Sunday, an acknowledgement of how popular the event is here.
There are 100 men on the XC start list and 42 women. Among those missing: 6th ranked Marco Bui (Full Dynamix), 8th ranked Erwin Bakker (caught with a positive test), Worlds silver medalist Maja Wsoszczowska (Lotto) and Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain Business Objects) for the women. Sydor is attending her sister Jodie's wedding in Vancouver this weekend. Missing from the start lists are Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) and Sabine Spitz (Specialized), however, both are at the event and just need to sort out registration snafus.
The 9 kilometre cross-country course is almost identical to last year, and the riders are expected to do the same number of laps - 4 for the women and 5 for the men. The first lap cuts out some singletrack to allow the riders to spread out. The circuit is very fast, with an opening climb of nearly two kilometres, a descent of the same length and then flat and false flat to the finish. Even if it does rain, the course drains extremely well and it should have no real effect on the outcome.