Riders from at least ten countries will race this coming weekend in the Boston Rebellion at Walpole, Massachusetts. For the first time, the race has been awarded a UCI HC (above category) rating, making it attractive to World Cup racers in terms of points.
The race is also the eighth race in USA Cycling’s Pro-XCT series of nine races. Of the top five men in the series, only Stephen Ettinger (Ridebiker Alliance) will attend. He is currently in third place with 168 points. Series leader Raphael Gagne (Cannondale 360Fly) will be preparing for the Olympics.
Headlining the men's race this weekend will be veteran Swiss racer Florian Vogel (Focus). The 34-year-old currently is ranked eighth in the world. He will be joined by three of his Focus teammates; Marcel Guerini, Martin Gujan, and Markus Schulte-Lunzum.
The best hopes for the North Americans are Canadian Champion Derek Zandstra (Scott 3Rox Racing), former US Champion Ettinger, and Russell Finsterwald (SRAM-TLD-Scott) who recently earned the bronze medal at the USA Championhips in California.
Finsterwald commented on the race: “I'm looking forward to racing in Boston on what sounds like an entertaining and challenging course. This will be my first trip back to the east coast for the season so it will be fun to reacquaint with the rock and roots! The Mont Sainte-Anne World Cup is next weekend; therefore I'm expecting to have plenty of international heavy hitters toeing the line.”
Todd Wells (SRAM-TLD-Scott), who won last year’s race, will miss this year’s event.
Racing will take place mostly in dense forest at Adams Farm on a mix of double-track, fire roads, and twisty singletrack. With only 338 feet of climbing per lap, the climbs are short but steep. There are several natural rock gardens as well, but it is fair to say that the course favors riders with a big engine over those with the best technical skills.
The Pro Women’s race favorite has to be Czech Republic native Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team). This season she has already won the Sea Otter Classic, Carson City Off-Road, and recently finished 7th at the World Championships. She is also headed to the Rio Olympics next month to represent the Czech Republic.
Newly crowned US Champion Erin Huck (Scott 3Rox Racing) is on the best form of her career, and is likely to go head-to-head with Nash. Other women expected to be competing at the front of the race include USA Marathon Champion Rose Grant (Stans NoTubes-Pivot) and rising international star Kate Courtney (Specialized).
Erin Huck remarked, “It looks like there will be a pretty strong international field which always makes things interesting. I'm hoping the east coast crowds will come out and cheer, reminiscent of Bear Creek National Champs, some of the best US spectators I've seen.”
Larissa Connors (Ridebiker Alliance) leads the women’s Pro-XCT contest with 262 points and one win, ahead of Erin Huck (Scott 3Rox Racing) who has 193 points and two wins (but has missed three races due to her world cup schedule.)
Course designers have been hard at work to make the course worthy of its HC rating, despite being the flattest Pro-XCT on the race calendar. It will be interesting to see what changes they have made. Last year the Pro Men raced five laps, while the Pro Women raced four.
Last year’s Boston Rebellion was held in 90-degree Fahrenheit temperatures. The long-range forecast for Saturday calls for more moderate temperatures in the 80’s.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete results, photos, and race articles from the Boston Rebellion this weekend.