Posted by Editoress on 09/1/11
Canada's Catharine Pendrel is one of the favourites for the Elite Women's cross-country on Saturday, and she held a press conference today to discuss the track, her preparation and the main competition.
In the absence of her World Cup rival Julie Bresset (France), who is racing the Under 23 race, Pendrel points to Irina Kalentieva (Russia), Eva Lechner (Italy) and defending world champion Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) as the main competition. "You definitely have to look out for Irina, she's a performer at the world championships. The same with Eva, she's keyed up on this event, and Maja will be a rider to watch."
The course after last night's rain: "I haven't ridden it today, but I talked to the Americans, and they said it was quite a bit more slick on the roots, so it is a matter of taking a bit more time to set up your corners. It is definitely one of the more difficult courses out there. it's got a lot of roots, and you really have to keep your focus about you. Even though there are two climbs, there is a fairly significant amount of flat track, so it's important to maintain your focus the whole time. You have to climb strong but you have to be focussed in the woods and making sure that you are staying on the pedals, staying upright. Physically, mentally, technically it's a good challenging course."
Last two years Pendrel has not a great performance in Champery. "That's true, but I feel that I know why. In  we had a lot of travelling, we had Worlds iin Australia, then back to Canada, then back here, and I was just basically tired. Last year I had a fall in training and lost my headspace for the race, and also it was the first time I was wearing the [World Cup] leader's jersey, and I think I let that pressure get to me. But tried to deal with that this year and not let that pressure get to me."
Most decisive sections? "I think it will be half and half. I know the drop (Hell Zone) was on everyone's mind last year, because it was bigger than what we would typically see, but I think everybody has worked on that, so everybody is competent, so it won't be a factor. I think the woods between the drop and the biggest climb will be very decisive, you could lose quite a bit of time if someone has a crash or loses focus."
What wheel size - 26" or 29"? "My opinion is that wheel size gets talked about a lot more than riders legs, and that's what it really comes down to."
You like to attack early and get in the lead. "I think different riders have different strengths, and different ways that they like to ride. That is my style. If I have the legs to go away early then I'll use that, because if you can ever get an advantage in a race then you want to take it."
You were only elite woman to do sub-15 minute lap in Team Relay, does that give you some confidence? "I had a similar situation in Val di Sole (Italy) in 2008, where I was a minute faster [but finished sixth in the cross-country]. It can mean something, it means that I can ride the course faster, but I also had a clean run, and somebody else might have crashed or got caught in traffic. So you don't want to read too much into it and get too confident, but definitely I can take some confidence away, and know I have the legs."
Start with corner 50 metres in - are you concerned? "Luckily I'll have the advantage of a good call up position, so I'm fairly confident I should be able to get through there unscathed."
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