Tomorrow is race day here at Smithfield Mountain Bike Park north of Cairns, when the UCI XCO World Cup will kick off for 2016. It’s a tight season with World Championships just 2.5 months away, with Olympics in August. And given that the course in Smithfield will hold World Championships in 2017 – elite racers are here in droves.
Walking around much of the course today, you can see that a few sections have been modified since 2014. The launch ramp into Rodeo Drop is gone. The B-line around the Croc Slide is closed off. The cavernous gaps in Jacob’s Ladder have been filled in, and much of the flat terrain from the start loop is part of the lap.
We looked around the pits yesterday, and we are still seeing some equipment changes today.
Still, plenty of riders are doing practice with their coaches, and numerous North American riders are being taken through lines by Shaums March, who has some serious technical riding ability.
Yana Belomoina is practicing with Bart Brentjens, although Brentjens is steering clear of some of the A-lines.
Jenni Rissveds is riding under the tuition of Thomas Frischknecht, her Scott-Odlo team manager (and 1996 XCO World Champion).
Christoph Sauser was seen riding with some of the Specialized riders, including Annika Langvad, and he’s hitting all the A-lines hard and with a lot of speed. Langvad is hungry for another World Cup win, and has been riding the descents with some serious speed.
Some riders are practicing with dropper posts, and it remains to be seen whether they will stay in for race day.
On Jacob’s Ladder, the majority of riders are taking the A-line, and it certainly looks less daunting.
Into the Croc Slide at the Cairns World Cup
The run into the Croc Slide is now more demanding, mainly as it is obligatory to ride the Croc Slide. PLenty of riders were practicing to get the A-line in correct, as it requires you to stay high on the rocks, but right next to the edge where there’s a crash fence to stop you falling off the hill.
The lower section of Caterpiller is super fast, and while some riders are pumping to hit the doubles, others are finding a faster line straight lining and keeping both wheels on the ground.
Racing starts at 9am tomorrow with U23. You can see the elite racing on RedBull TV. We’ll have race results and a report online right here.