Canadian Cyclist


July 14/06 10:33 am - MTB XC Nationals Preview

Posted by Editoress on 07/14/06

Cross Country Nationals Preview Sun Peaks, Kamloops BC
Reports made possible by the support of MAXXIS and Rocky Mountain

It is less than 15 hours until the start of the 2006 cross-country national championships. Back at the Sun Peaks Ski Resort outside of Kamloops after an absence of two years, the fields are smaller than past editions, but feature good depth at the top end. Overall, expectations are for approximately 300 riders (the downhill national championships are next weekend in Whistler).

One big shift is the schedule, with the Elite, Espoir and Junior Expert categories all racing tomorrow (Saturday) rather than Sunday (Master and Sport categories on Sunday). The Junior men and women are off at 9:00 am (noon EDT), the Elite and Espoir women at 11:00 am (2:00 pm EDT) and the Elite and Espoir men at 2:00 pm (5:00 pm EDT). We will be doing our usual live coverage.

The circuit is very similar to the one used in the past, at 5.5 kilometres. There will be a start loop for each category. The number of laps is as follows:

Junior Women - 3 laps
Junior Expert Men - 4 laps
Elite/Espoir Women - 5 laps
Elite/Espoir Men - 6 laps

The course is very dry, so no slogging through mud. However, it will not be easy, according to Kiara Bisaro (Team R.A.C.E.), who took the bronze medal here in 2002.

"It is definitely not going to be fast laps! There is a lot of climbing every lap, nowhere to rest, so I am expecting 20 minute laps. I'm pretty pleased about the course, it has lots of good technical sections; much more than what we have been seeing in the World Cups."

From the start the riders climb steadily for almost two kilometres, to the highest point on the circuit, then do a fast technical downhill section called Root Dog - no guesses as to what to expect there! After another short climb and descent there is another long climb of a kilometre before a long descent into the finish area. The trails are either hardpack or very dusty - it is pretty dry.

While the humidity is low, the heat will probably be factor - expected to be 30-plus Celcius.

Among the women all the top names are in attendance - Marie-Helene Premont and Alison Sydor (both Rocky Mountain-Business Objects), Bisaro, Wendy Simms (Velo Bella - Kona) and Trish Sinclair (Scott) for the World Cupers, plus Melanie McQuaid (Orbea), Sandra Walter (X.O.-Felt), Martina Feldmann (X.O.-Felt), Catherine Pendrel (Norco) and Mical Dyck (Alberta). In the Espoir women's field there are nine riders, with 29 Elite riders.

The men's field shows similar depth, led by defending champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) and Seamus McGrath (Felt). Kabush showed good form at last week's Norba National, but McGrath is coming off a World Cup podium in Mont Ste Anne. Other podium potentials include Mathieu Toulouse (Maxxis), Ricky Federau (Team R.A.C.E.) and Kris Sneddon (Kona). In the Espoir field, defending champion Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) is the favourite, but Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects), Neal Kindree (Kona) and Marty Lazarski (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) all have good form. A total of 61 elite and espoir men will take the start.

Race Note:

- Chief commissaire Loyal Ma issued a warning that the use of MP3 players is not permitted, and contravenes UCI regulations. Riders may be DQ'd for riding with them. The actual rule refers to "radio communication devices", but that is considered to include MP3 players (many of which are also cellphones).


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