June 25/05 10:31 am - Mont-Sainte-Anne XC Preview
Posted by Editoress on 06/25/05
Mont-Sainte-Anne XC Preview
by Mike Badyk
A couple of PHOTOS from yesterday, by Chris Redden
There has been a substantial change in the weather from yesterday's cool temperatures and cloud. The rain Friday morning was the leading edge of the hot, hot air that has been around the Great Lakes. The expected high today is 31C with the humidex bringing it to over 40C. It is likely to be a significant factor on this difficult course. Even at 9am this morning it is hot and sticky.
Keeping the heat in mind, the number of laps has been decided at 6 for the Pro Men and 5 for the Pro Women, plus a start loop for each.
Most of the top women, except for Marga Fullana (Spain), Annabella Stropparo (Italy) and Maja Wloszczowska (Poland), have made the trip here from Europe. A notable absence is Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain Business Objects) who apparently has decided to stay home. She is never at her best in the extreme heat and after the Nationals 2 weeks ago where she finished 2nd to Marie-Hélène Prémont, she appears to be focussing on training for the upcoming Road Nationals in Kamloops. The favourites for the women are the trio of hometown hero Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain Business Objects), Olympic and World Champion Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan Merida), who is currently leading the World Cup, and Olympic Bronze medallist Sabine Spitz (Specialized) - second to Dahle at the last World Cup in Willingen, Germany.
In the men's field the most notable absence is Olympic and World Champion Julien Absalon (France). He had stated in advance that his focus this year is the World Championships and that he would not be attending the World Cup races outside of Europe. Others not here include regular podium finishers Jean-Christophe Peraud (Lapierre), Bart Brentjens (Giant), Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower) and Houffalize round winner Marco Bui (Full Dynamix).
This is going to be the first chance for all of the Canadian men, except Max Plaxton (Maxxis MSC), to race against the Europeans. The obvious Canadians to watch are National Champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis MSC), who won on a similar course here 2 weeks ago, and has been consistently the strongest rider on the North American circuit. Kabush's team mate Matt Toulouse has also performed well on this course. Roland Green (Kona Les Gets - 2nd to Kabush at the Nationals) is also here. This will be his first World Cup since Calgary in 2004, almost exactly one year ago. Seamus McGrath (Adidas Haro), is also looking forward to a good performance (see Interview yesterday in Daily News) after a difficult spring.
Even though the Canadian men haven't done World Cups this year, they aren't necessarily receiving a start position at the back of the field. McGrath, as an Olympian, and Kabush as National Champion are not far from the front. However, with such a tight and twisting course there are few opportunities to pass. This may make it difficult for riders such as Green, Federau and Sheppard to move in the field.
The women's race starts at 11h and the men at 14h. Stay tuned for lap by lap coverage.