For the first time in many years, round four of USA Cycling's Pro XCT series will visit Wisconsin this weekend for the Subaru Cup presented by Trek Bicycles. The Subaru Cup is the largest race in the highly successful Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS). Pros will be competing in cross country racing on Saturday and short track racing on Sunday. Amateurs will be racing cross country, short track, and super D.
Whereas the series leader, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain), will be competing in the BC Bike Race this weekend with Catherine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team), Todd Wells (Specialized) will be coming in as the de facto series leader. He currently is only five points behind Kabush in the standings, and 125 points ahead of Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek). JHK raced in his first ever 100-miler last weekend, It will be interesting to see if it has an effect on his racing this weekend. Max Plaxton (Sho-Air/Specialized) who won the Mellow Johnny's race is expected to be racing this weekend as well.
The course at Mt. Morris is four miles long, designed to fit into the UCI standards for course design. Riders will climb the 265 feet to the top of the ski hill on each lap, but because the course winds up and down the mountain the climbing per lap could be nearly double that figure.
"The race at Nordic Mountain will offer a real taste of Midwest mountain biking, with wooded singletrack, fast descents and short, steep climbs," said Clair Cannon, Media Coordinator for WORS.
Other racers who are expected to be in the mix this weekend are Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized), who is coming off a spectacular weekend or racing at the Harrisonburg, Virginia, Triple Crown. He crashed hard in last Saturday's short track, but wasn't seriously injured and should be good to go for this coming weekend. Adam Craig (Team Giant) will be continuing to ramp up his racing after ACL-reconstruction surgery earlier this year.
On the women's side, Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) has been virtually unbeatable for the past couple of months in the US. She is currently ranked 12th in the world and seems to be exceeding the form she exhibited in the 2008 season when she represented the United States at the Beijing Olympic Games. She currently holds a 95-point lead over Willow Koerber (Subaru-Trek).
Koerber has been the revelation of the past year. She has two second place finishes this season in World Cup competition, and is currently ranked fourth in the world. At one point this year, she held the number one ranking. While Koerber has only won two national races over the past five years, she has proven she is a serious threat to win any race she enters.
USA Cyclo-cross National Champion Katie Compton (Planet Bike) has slowly but surely been improving her mountain biking skills. She finished second to Georgia Gould in the Teva Games in early June.
Kelli Emmett (Team Giant) is coming off impressive short track and cross country wins at the Triple Crown in Virginia. She is having the best year of her career, and is certainly a good bet to be on this week's podium.
Short track action
With Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) not expected to race, Georgia Gould would normally have clear sailing. However, former US Short Track National Champion Katie Compton is ramping up her fitness and can be expected to give Gould a run for her money. In addition, the Trek-Subaru duo of Heather Irmiger and Willow Koerber always seem to find their way onto the podium. Irmiger won the US Pro XCT short track race in Colorado Springs last season at altitude.
In the men's short track race, Sid Taberlay, the Australian Short Track Champion, has been on fire this year. Todd Wells, winner of the short track at Sea Otter, will certainly be near the front of the race as well. US Short Track National Champion, Adam Craig, will be testing his legs to see if he is on track for a repeat performance at the Granby, Colorado National Championships next month.
Cyclingnews spoke with Subaru-Trek's Team Manager Jon Rourke about the significance of this weekend. The former Subaru / Gary Fisher team has a new name as of last week. "The team is very excited to be racing in the mid-West and Trek's backyard. It's been a long time since a national series event was in Wisconsin. There is some extra pressure on the riders to perform since Subaru and Trek are both presenting sponsors of the race. Adding to the atmosphere & excitement is debut of the Subaru Trek team's new look, and the re-designed 2011 Gary Fisher collection Superfly and Superfly100."
WORS will offer a large prize list at the Subaru Cup, with an increased size and depth of awards totaling nearly $7,000 for top finishers in the Pro XCT. Cash prizes will be awarded over 30 places in the elite men's field and over 20 places for the elite women. The elite Short Track, presented by Wheaties Fuel, will also offer racers the chance to compete for cash payouts. In total, nearly $10,000 in cash prizes will be distributed.
"WORS continues to focus on creating the ultimate environment for as many mountain bikers as possible to explore their potential through safe, fun, friendly competition," said WORS Series Director Don Edberg to Cyclingnews. "Whether you are looking for a great individual race to motivate your riding or want to immerse yourself, family and friends in the complete social and competitive experience that is WORS, we have you covered."
The Subaru Cup will be a major cycling industry gathering for the Midwest and include bike demos, displays, and free gifts for those in attendance. The WORS organization and sponsor will be offering a full slate of festival activities including tours of the race course, wake boarding, onsite camping, food, and entertainment.
Cyclingnews will be on-site to provide full coverage of the racing this weekend. Stay tuned.