With a month to go until the first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Albstadt, Germany, on May 17-19, several top mountain bikers have checked out the new cross country course. Initial impressions of the track, formerly part of the Gonso Albstadt MTB Classic, were positive.
After just one lap, Frenchman Maxime Marotte (BH-Suntour KMC team), who was fifth in the World Cup overall in 2011 said, "Pooh, pretty tough," before adding, "I like the track, just as it is. It is steep and technically challenging. It's real mountain biking."
"Perhaps the toughest World Cup course in the whole circuit," said Dutchman Henk-Jaap Moorlag (Giant), "but very fair. I like it."
Moorlag's teammate Maja Wloszczowska was one of several riders who took advantage of the Albstadt World Cup's proximity to Sunday's Bundesliga race in Münsingen to inspect the new track. "Very tough climbs and the downhills are already tricky, although not everything is finished," said 2010 world champion Wloszczowska, who won on Sunday in Münsingen and showed she is back in form after a nine-months off due to injury.
"I'm excited about the rock garden, because that is certainly also something exciting," she said, referring to one of several technical details that are yet to be added. The work on the course is not yet finished due to a long winter.
"The downhills are really cool. If you're fresh, you can have lots of fun. But in the last two laps it will certainly be very difficult when you're exhausted," said the Polish woman.
For world number four-ranked Fabian Giger (Giant Pro XC) from Switzerland, the course is "super cool".
"The climbs are actually tougher, but the track is more 'modern' than before," he said, "I think this is one of the highlights this year, and I believe a lot of spectators will come to Albstadt to watch the World Cup."
Marotte's teammate Stephane Tempier also liked what he rode. "I have a good feeling about the course. I think in the last lap things will get pretty tough." Each lap will be 4.18km and will feature 167m of climbing.
Riders praised track builders for their good work. "I'm impressed, they did a very, very good job here," said Wloszczowska.
"It is very well prepared. I think the course will be rideable even if it rains," said Giger.
The course was designed by Holger Blum and is being built by volunteers of the RSG Zollernalb. While there is still plenty of work to be done, Markus Ringle, Project Manager at Skyder Sportpromotion, was pleased with the initial reactions of riders so far. "At the end it will be again a bit more technical. We will add a few more features to it."
For more information on the Albstadt World Cup, visit www.world-cup-albstadt.de.