April 25, 2009 (Offenburg, Germany) – A large Canadian contingent will be on hand at the second round of UCI MTB XC World Cup on Sunday. Five athletes are racing in the Canadian National Team colours, and eight more will be riding for their trade teams.
The course is the same as the previous two World Cup installments here on the outskirts of the small city of Offenburg in Germany’s Black Forest. It’s 5.1km per lap, along with a 1.1km start loop, which the women will likely do twice before heading onto the main lap. The men may even do the start loop three or four times to spread out the huge pack of over 200 riders before they dive into the narrow singletrack, which is abundant on this course. The climbing is quite spread out throughout the lap and very little of it is wide or in the open, so passing may be more challenging than usual. Because so much of the climbing is in the woods and on narrow trails, it often doesn’t dawn on competitors how much elevation gain there actually is until later in the race when it starts to take its toll on their legs.
The 100 elite women will start at 10:45 a.m. local time / 4:45 a.m. EST, to complete six full laps along with the two initial start laps. Four-time Offenburg winner Irina Kalentieva (Rus) Topeak-Ergon will be the one to watch, as she has clearly mastered the course’s technical nuances, including vertical drops, chutes, root gardens, and bermed corners. The course is dry and fast this year, and the sunny, warm weather is expected to continue through the weekend.
The Canadian women are also expected to do well, especially 2008 World Cup winner, Marie-HÃ©lÃ¨ne PrÃ©mont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) and second overall Catharine Pendrel (Luna Women’s MTB Team). Eyes will also be on Canada’s Emily Batty (Trek Store Toronto) in the U23 women’s competition.
World Champion Margarita Fullana (Spa) Massi, Olympic Champ and local Sabine Spitz (Ger) Central Ghost, World Cup #1 winner Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Central Ghost, and last week’s Sea Otter Champion, Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Women’s MTB Team, are also top riders who will be gunning for the podium.
The starting shot for the men’s race goes off at 2:30 p.m. local time / 8:30 a.m. EST and they will complete eight full laps of the course, which Adam Morka (Team Canada) described as “gnarly”. World Champion Christoph Sauser (Sui) Specialized, Olympic Champion Julien Absalon (Fra) Orbea, and Jose Antonio Hermida (Spa) Multivan-Merida are a few of the top riders on a long list of big guns that could pull off the victory here on Sunday afternoon.
Canada’s Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain was looking very relaxed today at his team tent. He has been over here since the first World Cup in South Africa two weeks ago, so he’s acclimatized and ready to rocket to the front of the field. Other Canadian men competing include RaphaÃ«l GagnÃ© (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain, Derek Zandstra (Can) 3 Rox Racing, and Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona.
All the Canadians are in good spirits. Pendrel loves the course, especially the plethora of singletrack and PrÃ©mont flashed her winning smile all over the race venue this morning. The Canadian riders often gravitate to each other, so spectators and fans can expect to run across the entire crew in one go.
– Catharine Pendrel (Can) Luna Women’s MTB Team
– Amanda Sin (Can) 3 Rox Racing
– Emily Batty (Can) Trek Store Toronto
– Mical Dyck (Can) Team Canada/Trek Store Toronto
– Marie-Claude Suprenant (Can) Team Canada/Xprezo
– Marie-HÃ©lÃ¨ne PrÃ©mont (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
– Jean Ann McKirdy (Can) Team Canada/Local Ride
– Sandra Walter (Can) Team Canada/Local Ride
– Derek Zandstra (Can) 3 Rox Racing
– Geoff Kabush (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
– Adam Morka (Can) Team Canada/Trek Store Toronto
– Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona
– RaphaÃ«l GagnÃ© (Can) Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
Full start lists available here.