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Wet or dry, "real mountain bike course" will challenge World Cup racers
While many of the world's fastest cross country racers have been enjoying a month off the World Cup circuit, Christoph Sauser (Specialized) has been keeping himself busy winning endurance races. Sauser, known as "Susi" among his friends and teammates, is fresh off winning the marathon world championships on Sunday. Earlier in the month of June, he also won the Trans Germany four-day mountain bike stage race.
"On Monday, it was back to reality again," said Sauser. "It was a long trip from Italy, but it was such a big success to have won the second biggest race of the season. That helped a lot with the travel."
Sauser and his Specialized teammates Burry Stander and Jaroslav Kulhavy piled into a car after flying across the Atlantic and drove up to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada venue where they will race on Saturday in World Cup cross country round four.
"Every square centimeter of space inside that car and on the roof was filled up. We had too small of a car and too much luggage," said Sauser.
Sauser and Kulhavy finished one-two at marathon Worlds in Montebelluna, Italy, and they have just five days in between to travel from Europe to North America and put themselves back together.
"For me, it's been about recovery - sleeping well, eating well and little bits of training. I haven't done anything more than one hour and 45 minutes on a bike," said Sauser. "Today was my first time on the course, but it felt good. I have energy again, but we'll see if I have the acceleration I'll need for the first half of the race."
It's been a wet month leading up to the World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne and more recently, a rainy week. Yet Sauser is optimistic about the forecast for Saturday.
"I know it's not going to rain. I believe my weather app on my iphone," he said."I only got out on the course today because it was so muddy and dirty the other days. I didn't want to crawl around the course - I went for good training on the road."
Sauser's teammate Stander, who won a medal at the Worlds at Mont-Sainte-Anne last September, also spent some time pre-riding the course.
"I think the course from now on will stay similar or dry out a bit, depending if it rains," said Stander. "The course right now is fun. It'd be nice if it stays similar to what it is now. We'll have good tires no matter what happens though."
"Everyone seems to be enjoying the course. It's a course where I think bike choice will make a difference. I know other World Cups are pretty fast and tactics and high speed play a role," said Stander, "but this is a real mountain bike course."
"It's slow and there is a lot of slogging through roots and rocks and it's slippery the whole way around. It's a good bike handler's course. But to get to the top of those downhills, you have some steep climbs, so really, the course has a little bit of everything."
Sauser said the course was muddy in a few places during his pre-ride Friday. "This is the first time I'm riding my 29er hardtail on a really technical course," said Sauser. "It's like speed trials, especially on the climbs, but I think I'm carrying my speed much better. There is one downhill where I'd like to have a full suspension, but I think in the race when you go really, really fast, it won't matter any more."
Sauser will race his favorite 34-tooth single front chainring set-up on his drivetrain and he says he'll still have plenty of gear to spin uphill despite the steep climbs on the course.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage from the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup.