Posted by Editor on 06/17/08
2008 MTB Worlds -XC & Team Relay Course Preview
The 2008 Mountain Bike World Championships kick off today with the Team Relay. Twenty teams will take the start in just under an hour here in the little town of Commezzadura, in the Val di Sole area of the Dolomites. Val di Sole translates, literally, as Valley of Sun, however, it must by of the liquid variety, because we are getting is rain, mist and clouds.
This had made the 6.3 kilometre cross-country circuit - which will be used for the Team Relay - a muddy, slippery mess. As Canada's Catharine Pendrel said "The word for today is Greasy!"
From the start the riders traverse the south slope of the valley on grass, with one little 18% kicker and then hit the first climb of one kilometre. From here it is into mud singletrack with a rooty, rocky chute that is giving a lot of riders problems in training. Then, another gravel climb followed by a second, longer mud chute which takes them to the lowest part of the circuit.
After this is a long, fast and slightly downwards gravel road run leading into the main climb of 700 metres at 10% - mostly gravel with one short section of singletrack. At the top they drop straight down on singletrack - the most technical portion of the course - before hitting a gravel/grass run in to the start-finish. The first lap will also have a short start loop.
At this point, the expectation is seven laps for the men and five for the women.
The favourites for the Team Relay are Switzerland (Florian Vogel, Matthias Rupp, Petra Henzi and Nino Schurter), who would have won the European Championships except for a protest that they did not actually touch hands during a hand off. Expect them to have revenge on their minds here.
Other strong teams will be the U.S., with Adam Craig, Georgia Gould, Sam Jurekovic and John Bennett, plus the French (Jean-Christophe Peraud, Arnaud Jouffroy, Laurence Leboucher and Alexis Vuillermoz) and Italians (Marco Fontana, Gerhard Kerschbaumer, Eva Lechner and Cristian Cominelli).
Canada will enter a team that, with the exception of Raphael Gagne, has not done the Team Relay before - Catherine Pendrel, Derek Zandstra, Evan Guthrie and Gagne. Guthrie is suffering from a slight cold.
Squads will be going with either their fastest riders first (Elite or U23 Man), the slower ones in the middle (Junior Man and Elite Woman), and then their other fast rider to finish (again, Elite or U23 Man). Canada is doing it a little different with U23 (Gagne), Elite Man (Zandstra), Elite Woman (Pendrel) and finishing with their Junior Man Guthrie. This could propel them close to the front in the mid-race. The trick will to be to hold on.
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