It's been eight months since the last World Cup gravity-fed battle. Eight months since the World Cup Finals wrapped up in Schladming, Austria. Since then, riders have switched teams, new bikes have been designed, old ones tweaked, and components crafted, all to get ready for this: the 2010 World Cup race season's first ride.
The Cross Country World Cup series has already gone two rows deep this season, with Dalby Forest and Houffalize in the bag. The first Four Cross event piggybacked with the Houffalize XC, so that cat's out of the bag, too. Leaving this, the coming out dance of the downhill racing season; getting underway here at the Pohorje Ski Hill on the edge of Maribor, Slovenia.
The forecast is for rain, mixed with some sun, to again besiege this classic. This will make racing a bit of a Slip 'n Slide, as there is a fair amount of clay mixed into the soil here in Slovenia. Otherwise it will mostly be business as usual here on the Pohorje Massif portion of the Alps: a high speed roller coaster of a track littered with off camber root lines, and punctuated with a dreaded rock garden midway down the track. There have been a few tweaks here and there to the track—most notably a shift to the rider's right in the rock garden, but it is essentially the same track as last year.
The Four Cross track, on the other hand, is brand new. It's not a cheap venture to build a four cross track. Not by a long shot. Too bad someone forgot to go the extra mile to mix in some rock and make it an all weather track. With the soaking it got on Thursday and the forecast of continued rain, it promises to be a mud spike 4X final. Most of the 4X racers put a lap or two on the soggy mess of a track, but other than a few token runs, it was mostly just showing the colors vs. actual training.
Look for training to begin in earnest on both the DH and 4X tracks today (Friday).