UCI Mountain Bike World Cup returns to Windham
After a year off, the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano returns to the small town of Windham, New York, approximately 2h30 north of New York City. This will be the fourth time Windham has hosted the World Cup, and this year it will see riders competing in Round 5 of the eliminator (XCE) and Round 6 for both the downhill (DHI) and cross-country (XCO).
XCE : Engen absent
The Eliminator takes place immediately in front of the main chalet for the ski hill, on an 825 metre circuit where spectators will be able to see almost the entire course from one spot. The circuit opens with an uphill sprint, followed by a descent and another climb. The riders then traverse a grassy slope before a 180-degree turn onto the finishing straight.
After her win last weekend at Mont Ste Anne, Canada, Kathrin Stirnemann (Sabine Spitz Haibike) has taken a commanding lead in the women’s standings, with 185 points. World Champion Alexandra Engen (Ghost Factory), the former leader, missed last week and will miss this week, due to fatigue, so Stirnemann could wrap up the women’s title with a win here. Others to watch for on the podium include Jenny Rissveds (Scott-Odlo), Kate Courtney (Specialized Racing XC) and Canadian Andreane Lanthier-Nadeau.
The men’s series saw a lead change last week, with Fabrice Mels (Salcano Alanya) overtaking World Champion Paul van der Ploeg of Australia for the leader’s jersey. However, the contest is still very close between Mels, van der Ploeg, defending World Cup champion Daniel Federspiel (Otztal Scott) and last week’s winner Simon Gegenheimer of Germany.
DHI: slightly shortened course
The 1.51 kilometre downhill is slightly shorter than in previous years, and takes riders through the trees for much of its length, offering a combination of rocks and roots, and some sizable jumps.
Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen), with her third win of the series last weekend has taken a commanding lead in the women’s competition, 160 points ahead of Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic), with World Champion Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) – the winner at Windham in 2012 – a further 20 points back. The race for the World Cup title is down to these three riders, all of whom have won this season.
The men’s competition has tightened up, with three riders within 101 points of leader Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing DH). Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) is on a roll, with a first and second in the past two World Cups, while US champion and defending Windham champion Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing DH) would definitely like to win on home soil.
XCO : heat could play a role
The cross-country circuit is deceptively simple: a long climb followed by a fast descent. While it is simple it is not easy, and the heat expected for Sunday’s race will make this a race of attrition.
Jolanda Neff (Liv Pro XC) has a stranglehold on the women’s lead, with 310 points over second place Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing). However, the battle for second through fifth in the overall standings is extremely tight, with 10 riders within 90 points of each other.
Neff will once again be a favourite, as will Catharine Pendrel (Luna), second to Neff last weekend in Mont Ste Anne, and the defending champion at Windham. Others to watch will be Batty, Katerina Nash (Luna) and American champion Lea Davison (Specialized Racing XC).
The men’s race will likely be another battle between the two riders who have been head and shoulders above the rest of the field this season: World Cup leader Julian Absalon (BMC) and World Champion Nino Schurter (Scott-Odlo). Between them, they have won all five rounds of the World Cup this season. Absalon has one more win, but Schurter won last weekend, so it could go either way. Others to watch for on the podium will be Daniel McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) and the Fluckiger brothers – Lukas (BMC) and Mathias (Stockli).
Catch all the action live on Redbull TV, starting with the Eliminator on Friday evening.