Senior Women XC - Pre-race

Posted by Editor on 9/20/98.

Although the weather report has called for clearing skies, the early morning here at Mt. Ste. Anne is less than ideal. We had more rain last night, not as heavy as on Friday night before the downhill, but enough to make everything damp and slick. Temperature is 14C, with a bit of a wind. It is quite damp and cool. The riders are doing warm up laps in cold weather gear. Tights, jackets and full finger gloves are the common apparel this morning. Itís probably not a bad temperature for racing, but if the clouds open up it will be very ugly.

The women are scheduled to do 5 laps plus a start loop, and the men 6 laps plus a start loop. The course is 7.1 kilometres long, with 1260 feet of climbing per lap. It is 46% wide track and 54% single track.

It is expected that the technical sections in the single track are going to be quite the challenge. This will favour some riders, including Alison Sydor, and make it less than desirable for others. As with the downhill, the exposed rock ledges are the source of concern. The rock would normally have sufficient traction, but the riderís wheels shed just enough dirt to coat the rock with a thin film. Make one mistake here and it could cost you the race. The climbing sections are holding up very well due to a fairly sandy base. It is likely that the race will be one on the long sections of single track in the centre section of the course. There are 3 spectator viewing stations here alone. A large crowd is expected in the vicinity of the ìOverpassî. A bridge has been constructed for one section of single track where it crosses another. Viewing the racers twice a lap has got to be a bonus for everyone.

Pre-race favourites? For the women it has to be Alison Sydor. Home turf, a moderately technical course and a great season overall have her as the one to watch. Gunn Rita Dahle of Norway is also very strong, at least based on her win at the WC Finals, 2 weeks ago in Bromont. Laurence Leboucher of France has been riding very well in the last few races, with her 2 WC victories this season given her much confidence. Finally, Paolo Pezzo of Italy has to be considered. She has the unique ability of elevating her race one step more for the big events.

The menís race is much more of an open question. On the World Cup circuit, Espoirs such as Cadel Evans and Miquel Martinez have taken a number of victories. This leaves a bunch of ìold guysî to fight it out. My personal pick is Rune Hoydahl from Norway. He is a strong rider, the type that favours a course of this style. The media choice seems to be Christophe Dupouey of France. Although he did not have a great season, his convincing win at the WC Finals in Bromont shows that he is in excellent form. Hubert Pallhuber of Italy has to be considered as well. He is the highest ranking rider in this race, and his one win and consistency throughout this yearís series make him someone to watch.

We are just heading out on to the course now. The womenís race starts at 10:00am. We will have lap by lap coverage throughout the day.

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