The pro category is packed with an ever growing depth of talent at this year's Whiskey Off Road coming up this weekend. Comprising a who's who of national and international mountain bikers, Prescott, Arizona will host a fierce battle among roughly 150 professional riders for the $40,000 in cash - the largest single-event mountain bike purse in America equally split between pro male and female categories.
On the men's side, confirmed riders include two-time defending champion Geoff Kabush of Scott 3Rox Racing, as are his teammates Derek Zandstra and Cameron Jette. Kabush will have his work cut out for him if he wants to three-peat, as several riders from Team Specialized will be in attendance too.
Christoph Sauser of Team Specialized is also confirmed. The current marathon world champion is a Swiss rider who was a bronze medalist in the 2000 Olympic Games and 2008 UCI cross country world champion. Sauser's teammate and American favorite Todd Wells is also confirmed and looking for payback after suffering a flat tire last year that dropped him from second to seventh in the final few miles.
Adding to the international draw of the Whiskey Off-Road, German star Markus Bauer of Scott/ Shimano/ Lexware will be in attendance as will some of the brightest future American talent, with 20-year-old Sepp Kuss of BMC Project Dirt looking to capitalize on his second place finish at last year's Inaugural Grand Junction Off-Road.
On the women's side, Team Luna Chix will be sending their star rider and four-time Olympian, Czech Republic native Katerina Nash, who finished in second place last year. To help Nash vie for the win in 2014, her teammate Danelle Kabush - Geoff's sister - will also toe the line. Prescott local Chloe Woodruff of the Backcountry.com Bike Team looks to improve upon her solid sixth-place finish in 2013, as will her teammate Evelyn Dong who placed an impressive fourth in her first attempt at the Whiskey.
Rounding out the women's field is first time Whiskey Off-Road contender Mary McConneloug representing Kenda/Stan's NoTubes/Seven Cycles. Mary brings a known force to the women's start line as a two-time Olympian, two-time Pan American Games silver medalist and two-time US cross country national champion.
There will be numerous spectating spots both at the Friday evening Fat Tire Criteriums in downtown Prescott and along the 50 Proof (proof = mile) Whiskey Off-Road course on Sunday morning. Among the favorite spots is the crest of a long and arduous climb at Sierra Prieta Overlook and along the last section of rocky, technical trail that runs along Miller Creek just outside of town.