May 29/05 3:38 am - Houffalize Pre-race Update
Posted by Editor on 05/29/05
Round three of the cross-country World Cup is about to get underway at the traditional Belgian venue of Houffalize. The one overarching concern of everyone is the heat - 34 Celcius yesterday (Saturday). To make things worse, the races will take place at the hottest time of day - 11:00 am for the women, 2:00 pm for the men. At present, the program is 4 laps (plus opening loop) for the women and 6 (plus opening loop) for the men.
The 6.6 kilometre circuit is unchanged from last year, beginning with a paved climb out of the centre of town, then onto rolling fast double track before the longest climb of the lap. From the top the riders descend immediately, losing all the vertical gain they just struggled for, before finishing the lap with final two kilometres of rolling double track.
The track is currently very dry, very dusty and very fast. Alban Lakata (Specialized), who won the two lap men's qualifier on Saturday, said that the heat out in the open was incredible.
For possibly the first time ever, there will be no Canadian men on the start line in the 194 rider field. The women's field (83 starters) has good Canadian representation, led by Marie-Helene Premont and Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain-Business Objects). Also on the start line for Canada will be Trish Sinclair (Scott), Kiara Bisaro (GearsRacing.com) and Sandra Walter. Premont will be looking to take back the World Cup leader's jersey from Gunn-Rita Dahle (Merida Multivan), however, the dry, fast conditions will not be as conducive to the more technically inclined Canadian.