It's a long grind, but the fat lady has almost sung on this year's edition of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. And it's gonna be a wild weekend of racing, with only the Men's 4X overall a 'done deal'—Jared Graves wrapped that up in Val di Sole.
There are five World Cup overall winner's titles up for grabs here in Windham, New York, at the World Cup Finals. Some overall titles are pretty much a wrap—Anita Molcik is unlikely to beat Anneke Beerten in the Women's 4X, and in the Women's DH Sabrina Jonnier is unlikely to finish so far off the podium as to put her overall lead in jeopardy; but the remaining overall World Cup wins are anything but a foregone conclusion.
Women's 4X: neither Jana Horakova or Caroline Buchanan of the 4X racers can beat Beerten's overall lead, even if they can beat her here. Beerten's only threat, then, is Anita Molcik. Noting against Molcik, but that's unlikely to happen, so let's just say the overall is Beerten's to lose at this point and call it good.
Men's 4X is going to be a glory ride for Graves, pure and simple. But don't think he'll piss it away with a half-assed effort simply because he's taken the overall already. Oh no. Definitely not. The Yeti rider lives to win. Look for this 4X final to be a show of strength from "Grubby" Graves.
For the Women's DH title, it's almost in the bag for Sabrina Jonnier. She's got a comfortable lead for the overall—185 points over Emmeline Ragot, and this course definitely favors the World Cup leader more so than Ragot. She's looking confident, too. But anything can happen, so in the unlikely event of Sabrina having a complete meltdown of some sort, look to see Jonnier take the overall here.
In the Men's DH, it's stupidly, ridiculously, insanely tight: only seven points separate Gee Atherton and Greg Minnaar from the overall win. It's a 2:30 (plus or minus a few) track, so there can be no margin for error for either rider—particularly in Qualifying, which awards the winner 50 UCI points. The two riders are so close, that whichever qualifies fastest will likely win the Overall. No pressure there…
The Men and Women's XC are both going to be tight. In the men, Nino Schurter's leads by a mere 26 points over Julien Absalon. A win by either here declares the overall winner. The women are in a similar position: Catharine Pendrel is leading Eva Lechner of Italy by 54 points, with Willow Koerber lurking a only 5 points behind Lechner. Pendrel only needs to place second here to win the overall. Were she to slip to third, either Koerber or Lechner would still need to win to take the overall—and Koerber has won on this track before, although not in as stacked a field as this. Interesting…very Interesting.
So there you have it. Five races to go. Three titles are completely up in the air, and two are mostly a foregone conclusion, but aren't exactly certain. What is certain is that it's going to be a wild one here in Windham, New York.