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UCI MTB Worlds 2008 – Elite Women’s and Men’s XC Preview

June 21, 2008 (Val di Sole, Italy) – One of the biggest events of the weekend, the Elite Women’s and Men’s XC World Championship races, take place on Sunday on the physically and technically demanding 6.2km course. The races will also act as a finale for this exciting week of world-class competition. The summer weather is expected to continue through with mostly sunny skies, a chance of thundershowers in the afternoon, and a high temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. A thundershower last night made sections of the course a little slicker this morning, but barring a downpour, the course will remain mostly dry and totally rideable.

The women’s race starts at 11:00 a.m. local time / 5:00 a.m. EST with a 62-rider field, including defending champion Irina Kalentieva (Rus), multiple World Champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja (Nor), European Champion Sabine Spitz (Ger), and the current World Cup leader, Marie-Hélène Prémont (QC) all standing out as favourites for the win. With riders comparing the course to Prémont’s home track in Mont-Ste-Anne, Que. – punchy climbs, slick, rocky descents – 2008 may just be the year Canada’s star mountain biker secures the rainbow stripes.

Catharine Pendrel (BC) is also a dark horse for the podium. With several top-10s at World Cups this season, a fourth place in Andorra, and sixth place last year at the Worlds, she has the potential to be at the front of the field. “I’m feeling excited about racing tomorrow,” she said, “but after all the lead up and preparation, I’m ready to get down to the racing.”

“My goal would be to have a top-five. I want to ride as well as my legs are on the day – it would be awesome if that was a medal.”

The third Canadian woman to contest tomorrow is Kiara Bisaro (BC), who came down with a cold a few days ago. She has had one of her most challenging seasons ever, as complications brought on by a nasty crash last year have continued to plague her. Bisaro definitely has the potential to perform if the conditions are right. “It’s not an ideal situation,” she said of being sick, “but I’ve been dealing with a non-ideal situation all year, so I’m just gonna go out and do what I gotta do tomorrow.”

“I’ll go as hard as I possibly can,” said Bisaro. “Before I got sick, I was definitely shooting for a top-10. I would have been disappointed with anything less, so we’ll just see how it goes.”

The men’s start is at 2:15 pm local/8:15 am EST and riding for Canada are Geoff Kabush (BC), Seamus McGrath (ON), Derek Zandstra (ON) and Max Plaxton (BC). Stay tuned for live race updates and photos on race day and more from pedalmag.com at the 2008 MTB Worlds.

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