Craig, Minnaar among favorites for Downieville Classic

The Downieville Classic All Mountain Stage Race will happen this weekend, July 10-11 in Downieville, California. The popular two-day event, featuring a point-to-point cross country and a downhill, is drawing a top field, including some elite racers that might otherwise be expected to attend the US Pro XCT finals, also happening this weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Last year's winners, Adam Craig and Katerina Nash, will return to defend their titles.

Team Giant is sending most of its roster including Craig, Carl Decker, Kelli Emmett, Duncan Riffle and Jared Rando. Ross Schnell, Mark Weir and World Cup downhill winner Greg Minaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) are also on the start list. Fresh off several stage wins and a runner-up overall position at the BC Bike Race, Team Jamis' Jason Sager will make the trip to Downieville, along with teammate Adam Snyder.

In the women's race, Emmett will be challenged by Nash (Luna), Abigail Hippley and Lizzy English.

The Downieville Classic cross country race, to be held on Saturday, is one of the last remaining point-to-point bicycle races in the United States. The 29-mile course follows a rugged "Gold Rush" era route that departs the mountain town of Sierra City at 4,100 feet, climbs 3,000 feet to the crest of the Sierra Nevada, and then plunges 5,200 vertical feet into downtown Downieville.

On Sunday, a downhill stage will take racers 17 miles on the ultimate Super D course down 5,000 vertical feet from Packer Saddle to Downieville. Organizers claim the Downieville Downhill is "the longest and most demanding downhill mountain bike race in the nation." This prestigious race course follows the paths of the Sunrise Trail, Butcher Ranch Trail, Third Divide Trail and First Divide Trail. The downhill race is open only to those also competing in the previous day's cross country.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.