August 12, 2011 (Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic) – The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano resumes this weekend with round six for the cross-country specialists at the new venue of Nove Mesto Na Morave, in the Czech Republic.
The weekend opens on Friday evening with the third Eliminator competition of the season, and the first since it was announced that the Eliminator will be officially integrated into the 2012 World Cup series. This should result in increased interest from the athletes for this spectator-friendly elimination event. After a time trial on the short course to seed the top men and women, heats of four riders at a time will see the top-two move on to the next round, until only four are left to race for the title.
On Saturday, the Under-23 men, and the Junior men and women, will be the first to race the cross-country circuit, followed by the Elite and Under-23 women on Sunday morning, and finally by the Elite men on Sunday afternoon.
The 4.2 kilometre circuit is very compact, offering spectators the chance to view the race several times per lap. The circuit gives little opportunity to rest, with riders either climbing short power climbs, or descending only to immediately face another climb. With the exception of the start-finish in the nordic skiing stadium, the course is in forested terrain, with twisty single-track and technically demanding sections as well as obstacles. The first lap will cut out a narrow climb, descent and a drop-off.
The women’s race will see the renewal of the season-long competition between World Cup leader Julie Bresset (Fra) BH-Suntour-Peisey Vallandry and second-ranked Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Pro Team. Bresset holds the lead in World Cup wins (three, to Pendrel’s one), but the Canadian, who is the world number one ranked rider, recently beat Bresset at the 2012 Olympic test event in London. Others to watch for include World Cup number three ranked Marie-Hélène Prémont (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, Pendrel’s team mate Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Pro Team, and Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna, who could benefit from local support for a home win. In addition to Pendrel and Premont, Emily Batty (Can) Subaru-Trek and Amanda Sin (Can) 3 Rox Racing will be representing Canada in the elite women’s race.
The strong favourite in the men’s race is World Cup leader Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) Specialized, with three wins this season, and no finishes out of the top-three. With Kulhavy racing before a home crowd of Czech supporters, he will be hard to beat. However, Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea, who missed the last two World Cups, did beat Kulhavy on the similar terrain of Offenburg, Germany, in round three, and decisively beat him at the Olympic test event. Kulhavy responded last week by defeating Absalon for the European continental title, so this one is too close to call. Others to watch include the Scott-Swisspower duo of Florian Vogel (Sui) and Nino Schurter (Sui). Four Canadian men will be at the start: Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, Derek Zandstra (Can) 3 Rox Racing, Adam Morka (Can) Trek Canada, and Cameron Jette (Can) 3 Rox Racing.