August 07, 2015 (Windham, NY) – Top riders from around the world return once again to Windham, N.Y. from Aug. 6-9 for the penultimate rounds of both the downhill and cross-country the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup following the 25th anniversary edition at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada last weekend.
This year is the fifth time Windham has hosted the World Cup, and once again it will play a critical role in determining the overall World Cup winners. Less than 90 minutes drive from New York City, this village of less than 2000 inhabitants in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of Rip van Winkle fame is rolling out the red carpet as it seeks to transform itself from a quaint ski town to a four-season vacation destination.
The action begins on Friday afternoon with qualifying for round 6 of the downhill competition. The Windham course has been slightly extended from previous years at 1.628 kilometres, with a vertical drop of 390 metres. It takes riders through the trees for much of its length, offering a combination of rocks and roots, and some sizable jumps.
Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) has all but wrapped up the women’s title, with four consecutive wins. Second place in the rankings is held by Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker), the defending champion at Windham, but the French rider is out of action after crashing in training before the MSA round, leaving World Champion Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) the only rider with a slight mathematical chance of catching Atherton for the title.
Reigning Canadian DH Elite Women’s champ, Miranda Miller (Specialized/SRAM), who earned her first World Cup podium claiming 5th at MSA, is not at Windham electing to race at Crankworx. Casey Brown (Bergamont Hayes Components), in 7th at MSA, leads the Canucks at the WCup in Windham.
The men’s competition is much tighter, with World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (USA, Specialized) only 25 points ahead of Loic Bruni (FRA, Lapierre Gravity Republic) and South Africa’s Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) at 70 points. Defending Windham and World Cup overall champion Josh Bryceland (GBR) (Santa Cruz Syndicate) is coming off a strong win at MSA last weekend, and will certainly be a contender.
Top Canadian DH riders with Devinci Global Racing, Mark Wallace and Steve Smith, will challenge the field as Wallace was on the hot seat at MSA near the end to take home a career-best sixth and is now 19th overall. Smith remains on the comeback trail following injuries with 9th his best result this season in Lenzerheide, SUI.
The cross-country circuit has been been modified from previous years, with the long opening climb now zig-zagging across the open ski hill rather than through the woods. Once the riders reach top of the climb, they traverse across to a long technical descent back to the start-finish.
Jolanda Neff (Stoeckli Pro Team) is in a dominant position for the women’s title after three wins in four events, with 900 points to Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa’s (Multivan Merida) 790, followed by World Champion Catharine Pendrel (Luna) at 670 points. Pendrel is the defending Windham champion while fellow Canuck Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing), who was 4th at MSA, is in the hunt for her first WCup win and sits in 5th overall.
The men’s race is expected to be a battle between World Cup leader Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo), who won last week at MSA and at Windham last year, and World Champion Julien Absalon (BMC), who finished only seconds behind Schurter last week. Last year, Schurter beat Absalon here by a mere six seconds.
Look for reigning Elite Men’s XC Champ, Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain), who matched his best WCup result claiming 14th at MSA to continue his strong season.
The Elite Downhill racing is scheduled for Saturday, August 8 with starts at 12:30pm, 1:15pm, and 2:00pm for the juniors, women, and men elite, respectively.
Elite Cross Country races will take place on Sunday, August 9 with start times scheduled for Men under 23 (9:00am), Elite Women (11:15am), Elite Men (2:15pm), and Women under 23 (4:30pm).