August 21, 2006 – For the first time in it’s 17-year history the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships will be held in New Zealand. The city of Rotorua, renowned for it’s geothermal activity will play host to riders from 39 countries all vying for the coveted rainbow jersey’s in their respective categories. The organising group that hosted the Oceania Championships on the same courses in March 2006 appear to be ready for the big event.
Rotorua is in the New Zealand Daylight Savings time zone, which means it is 16 and 19 hours ahead of Eastern and Pacific time zones respectively. So a 2 p.m. race start in Rotorua means a 10 p.m. start in Ontario and 7 p.m. start in British Columbia the day before. See the complete Schedule of Events below.
Under the CCA’s (Canadian Cycling Association) new National Team structure our teams are reduced in size overall, relative to previous years, but they are better financed and better supported. There are 22 cross country racers registered to represent Canada which makes us the fourth largest team with Switzerland at 25, the United States at 27 and host country New Zealand at a massive 48 riders. The complete rosters for Canada’s 2006 MTB Worlds teams are listed below.
All of the courses are on Mt. Ngongotaha, a local tourist attraction with an overlooking gondola. The 5.9 km cross-country course is a traditional Euro style climb-descent circuit with little technical sections. It starts with an open 600m loop around a grassy sheep paddock. After a quick up and down, riders climb 160 vertical metres up a to the top of the gondola station. The majority of the climb is steep with some very steep sections; its clay and grass surface could prove very slick or even soupy by the time the elite categories race on Sunday, August 27.
Riders cross the tourist area on gravel and brick paths before one more 200m washboard up to the top of the course. The first and most technical descent, banks back and forth across a small valley, the clay surface and lack of trees in the area will allow riders to carry a lot of speed – the majority of crashes happened here at the Oceania Championships. Another mid grade climb puts riders back into the forest where they descend over two wooden drops. Some twisty rooty singletrack brings riders down to one final steep climb that could prove challenging when wet. A straight grass run brings riders back to the start finish area.
– There are 320 metres of climbing per lap.
– Altitude will not a factor as the highest point on the course is only 480 metres above sea level.
– How wet the course is will play a major factor in the race. I was able to ride the course on a cyclocross bike in March when it was dry but would have no chance when wet.
– It’s winter here in NZ so daytime highs are in the low teens and light rain is common. Riders who do not like the cold, such as Margarita Fullana, may struggle.
– Lap times for the elite men at the Oceanias were around 17 minutes on a dry course.
– With the steep climbs and limited technical riding hardtails are likely to be the bike of choice.
– There is limited open training time on the course so Geoff Kabush, Kiara Bisaro as well as the Australian and New Zealand teams will be at an advantage having raced the Oceania Championships here.
– There are about ten times the amount of sheep in New Zealand than people. Wherever they can be packed in, sheep will be there!
Canadian XC Worlds 2006 Team
Men’s Elite XC
– Ricky Federeau (Team R.A.C.E.) Abbottsford, BC
– Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) Victoria, BC
– Seamus McGrath (Felt) Victoria, BC
– Mathieu Toulouse (Team Maxxis) Montreal, QC
Women’s Elite XC
– Kiara Bisaro (Team R.A.C.E.) Courtney, BC
– Catherine Pendrel (Norco) Kamloops, BC
– Marie-HÃ©lÃ¨ne PrÃ©mont (Rocky Mountain/Business Objects) ChÃ¢teau-Richer, QC
– Wendy Simms (Velo-Bella/Kona) Naniamo, BC
– Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain/Business Objects) North Vancouver, BC
Men’s Espoir XC
– Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain/Business Objects) Lac Beuport, QC
– Martin Lazarski (Rocky Mountain/Business Objects) Toronto, ON
– Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain/Business Objects) Tofino, BC
– Neal Kindree (Kona/Team Squamish) Squamish, BC
– Derek Zandstra (3 Rox Racing ) Trenton, ON
Women’s Espoir XC
– Meghan Kindree (Rocky Mountain/Squamish) Squamish, BC
– Jean-Anne McKirdy (Rocky Mountain/Business Objects) Valemont, BC
– Catherine Vipond (Urban Athlete/Sportswap) Oshawa, ON
Men’s Junior XC
– Cody Canning (United Cycle) Fort McMurray, AB
– Alex Harvey St-FerrÃ©ol-les-Neiges, QC
– Francis Morin (Devinci) Valcourt, QC
Women Junior XC
– Emily Batty (Team R.A.C.E.) Brooklin, ON
– Alexandra GÃ©linas-Hamelin (Outaouais) QC
The downhill course is a good balance between fast open pedaling sections and steep slower speed technical bits. It starts at an airstrip near the summit of Mt. Ngongotaha with a fast, ripper of a grass section. This leads to a unique gap jump over a pond and down to a wooded bridge over the access road. After more high speed grass, riders enter the forest for the first time where the real technical riding begins.
Three consecutive rock drops at high speed shoot riders into the incredibly steep “Pink and White Terraces”. This nasty bit of rock and mud offers a variety of options ranging from slow winding lines, to straight ones over off-camber drops. How much risk riders are willing to take here will play a large factor in their times at the bottom.
Back out onto another sheep paddock riders are faced with a series of open high speed turns on a slick grass surface. After re-entering the forest a large wooden drop will have riders falling up to 7 metres depending on their speed.
Riders cross a series of access roads, many of which have launches on or off them, before an open pedaling section delivers them to one final challenge.
A drop off the gravel road lands the downhillers onto a very steep rock garden which leads to a boardwalk that leads into the final run into a berm and over a large table top jump. Riders are then faced with one last pedaling effort to arrive at the finish line and hopefully up into the hotseat.
– The course descends 330 vertical metres over 2,200 metres.
– Fabien Barel was the fastest at Oceanias at 3:08.60
– 2004 world champ Vanessa Quin was the fastest woman at 3:36.80
Canadian DH Worlds 2006 Team
Men’s Elite DH
-Luke Kitzanuk (Giant Canada) Vancouver, BC
-Andrew Mitchell (Cove Bikes/Sram) Maple Ridge, BC
-Tyler Morland (Cove Bikes/Sram) Whistler, BC
Women’s Elite DH
-Claire Buchard (Evolution/Specialized) Whistler, BC
-Michelle Dumaresq (Santa Cruz/NSMB.com) resides in the United States
-Adrienne Miller (Devinci/Daredevil) Courtney, BC
-*Danika Schroeter (Cove Bikes/Sram) North Vancouver, BC
Men’s Junior DH
-Hans Lambert Sainte Bruno de Montarville, QC
-Steve Smith (Cove Bikes/Sram) Naniamo, BC
Women’s Junior DH
-Micayla Gatto (Rocky Mountain/Business Objects) West Vancouver, BC
*The CCA has postponed Danika Schroeter’s suspension to allow her to race at the DH Worlds. She does not appear on the official UCI registration list yet. See Danika Schroeter Suspension Resolved in the news section at pedalmag.com.
Located 5 minutes north of the main event village, the four cross course is very fast with lots of passing opportunities which should provide exciting racing. The most distinguishable feature is a Red Bull sponsored wall ride. Riders are forced to air up onto the wall (a gate is attached to the bottom) and ride roughly 10 metres perpendicular to the ground before coming down. At Oceanias it was common to have riders above one another on the wall.
No Canadians are competing in either the Four Cross or Trials events.
2006 MTB/Trials Worlds Schedule
Tuesday, August 22
– 1:30pm XC Team Relay
Wednesday, August 23
– 10:00am Junior Women’s XC
– 12:30pm Espoir Women’s XC
– 3:30pm 4X Qualifiers
Thursday, August 24
– 11:00am Junior Men’s XC
– 2:00pm Downhill Seeding Runs
Friday, August 25
– 9:15am Women’s 20″ and 26″ Trials Finals
– 10:00am Espoir Men’s XC
– 3:00pm 4X Finals
Saturday, August 26
– 10:30am Junior Men’s and Women’s DH Finals
– 12:30pm Elite Women’s DH Finals
– 1:00pm Junior Men’s 20″ Trials Finals
– 1:30pm Elite Men’s DH Finals
– 2:30pm Junior Men’s 26″ Trials Finals
Sunday, August 27
– 10:00am Elite Women’s XC
– 10:30am Elite Men’s 20″ Trials Finals
– 2:00pm Elite Men’s XC
– 2:30pm Elite Men’s 26″ Trials Finals
Stay tuned to pedalmag.com for complete previews, reports, results and photos from a Canadian perspective for all races.