May 29/04 4:27 am - Houffalize World Cup Preview
Posted by Editoress on 05/29/04
Houffalize World Cup Belgium
World Cup coverage sponsored by Vélirium 2004 and ORYX
One week after the World Cup opened in Madrid, the circuit has moved to Houffalize, Belgium for frites with mayonnaise, the best beer in the world and completely different weather. After rain and cool weather in Madrid, we have perfect conditions in Houffalize - sunny, 20C and dry.
The circuit has been shortened considerably from two years ago, the last time the race was held here. It is considerably more technical, and around 8 kilometres in length (as compared to about 12 kilometres before). The riders will do a shortened start lap with a long paved climb to spread them out before the singletrack. It looks like the women will do one shortened loop and 4 full laps, while the men will do a shortened loop and six full laps.
Sabine Spitz (Fusion) is back after missing last week due to illness. She says that she feels better, but won't know until tomorrow how recovered she really is. Spitz is one of a number of riders who does not like the start lap, saying that it is not steep enough to really separate out the riders, and that there will probably still be a crush as they enter the singletrack. Other than that, she is pleased with the technical nature of the course, and will join the majority on a full suspension rig.
Sabine Spitz was pre-riding the course and the Editor took a couple photos of her with a fisheye lens for fun photo one photo 2
Among the Canadian contingent, Ryder Hesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher) is said to be getting back to form, as is Roland Green (Trek-VW). Hopefully he can avoid the mechanical problems that plagued him in Madrid. Geoff Kabush, on the other hand, is sick. Last week he said that he felt okay, but had nothing in the legs. It appears that this was just the precursor to stomach problems that have laid him low all week. He will start, but no bets as to how long he lasts. Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher), suffering from the flu last week, pronounces herself on the mend, but still says that she has reduced lung capacity (and now has to start back in the third row). Roland Green will also have to contend with this problem, starting back in 70th place (7th row).
We are told that Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects) will be sporting a new design jersey on the start line - that teaser is all we know. Also on the jersey front, world champion Filip Meirhaeghe (Specialized) could not get the special World Cup - Rainbow jersey done in time. So the speculation is that he will start in the rainbow to satisfy the Belgian fans, and take the requisite fine for not wearing the World Cup leader's jersey.
The women have 92 starters, and the men 157, after today's qualifier (no Canadians were required to race the qualifier).