World Cup XC action resumes this weekend in Switzerland after a long break. But while the racing has been on hiatus since Bromont, the racers haven’t exactly been sunning and laying about the many are still just getting to grips with their jet lag after the World Championships in Canberra.
Newly crowned XC champions Nino Schurter and Irina Kalentieva will be looking forward to airing out their new rainbow stripes here in Champery deep in the Swiss Alps. Part of the Portes du Soleil region, which translates to “Gateway to the Sun,” the area hosted some great racing back in 2007.
Back then it was a triple-header— with DH, 4X and XCO—but this time its just the XCO, a dry run for the resort before the World Championships comes here in 2011. The new DH course is being worked on and if I get a chance I want to see what’s going on on that side of the mountain. But at this point of proceedings its all about XC, baby.
Last time the World Cup came here the winners were Massi racer Margarita Fullana and Orbea pilot Julien Absalon, and both will be hoping for repeat performances this weekend to make up for not coming home with a World Championship title and shore up their prospects of a World Cup title. In the women’s field, anyone could win the overall given that the top four riders – Lene Byberg of Specialized Factory Racing, Elisabeth Osl of Central Ghost Pro Team, Fullana and Kalentieva are all within just 53 points. The men’s title race is a bit more one sided. Absalon has a massive 400-plus-point lead on his nearest rival, Jose Antonio Hermida of Multivan Merida, and there are just two rounds to go.
The 4.8km course itself is a mix of flat-out gravel roads, tight and techy singletrack and the inevitable and seriously steep mountain climbs here. There is a start loop as well, which will help riders get better placing by the time they hit the first singletrack.
The womens race starts at 10:45 AM local time, while the men are off at 12:30.
Stay tuned for the full report.