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July 11/08 11:31 am - Canadian Downhill Nationals Preview

Posted by Editor on 07/11/08

Canadian Downhill Nationals Preview
by Larry Ireland

The Canadian National Championships return to Mt Ste Anne, Quebec this year and, once again, are in the very capable hands of Gestev. This year's course is a slightly abbreviated version of the World Cup track that will be sent into action in two weeks time. Not much maintenance has been done, due to 26 days of rain this month in Quebec, so the course is rough, loose and ready to eat riders alive. Huge rocks have moved into the race line between runs and are catching riders off guard.

Practice began Thursday during on and off rainshowers, and dozens of flats have been gingerly rolled to the bottom. The upper high speed section (which will not be ridden as part of the Nationals track) still has to be ridden to access the start line, and has claimed many riders as they fly down the upper 300 metres. Today's practice session was sunny and hot, and riders needed to remind themselves not to do too many runs and tire themselves out, as this track punishes bodies and equipment.

Rain is expected on Sunday, so conditions could be changing rapidly come race day, however, there are perpetual muddy section on the course which are tracking mud onto roots and rocks, making some sections surprisingly slick, as riders move from the bright sunshine to the dark, East Coast woods.

Defending national champion Luke Kitzanuk has come out of a self-imposed mini retirement to defend his title.

"It's a great course, similiar to the World Cup track. It's lengthy and a challenge, as it is pretty raw this year. It has seen a lot of weather. It will be interesting to see who reigns supreme on this track. It's a shame Steve Smith couldn't come out, he'd add an interesting challenge to Sunday. We are missing a lot of the older guys. Tyler Morland, Eric Goss, Geoff Pendrel. It's a changing of the guard this season.

Ever loyal to his sponsor, Kitzanuk spoke to Canadian Cyclist this evening at his hotel. "It's really fun, buy a Giant bike! They make this race course seem easy. I really missed racing, it's good to be back".


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