Pro mountain bikers will head to New England this weekend for round seven of USA Cycling’s Pro-XCT series. The race will be held on Adams Farm in Walpole, about 30 minutes south of Boston. As the site of the Eastern Fat Tire Association (EFTA) Barn Burner race the past two years, it has gained a reputation for good racing on over 700 acres of land open to the public for low-impact recreation.
Todd Wells (Specialized) will be making the trip to Boston from his home in Durango, Colorado for his final preparations to defend his national championship. Wells explained, “I always race the weekend before National Champs, and getting a XC effort in at sea level after being at altitude for so long should be good for the power.”
Having grown up in New York, just west of the Massachusetts border, Wells is no stranger to New England Singletrack. He commented, “I'm looking forward to the Boston Rebellion since it's a new venue and it will be the only time I'll have a chance to race on the East Coast this year. I love the technical rocky singletrack back there, and I won't be sorry to have some short climbs. Maybe we'll even have some mud.”
Providing some competition for Wells will be three other seasoned Colorado pros. Ben Sonntag (Cliff Bar) is a former winner of La Ruta de los Conquistadores, one of the most difficult races on the planet. He also finished second recently in the highly technical Grand Junction Off-Road.
Mitch Hoke (Pro’s Closet) won the short track event at Catamount, Vermont last season. Chris Baddick (Boulder Cycle Sports/ Yogaglo) has had a strong season so far that includes a third place finish at the Grand Junction Off-Road. Both are strong podium threats.
The trail network at Adams Farm reportedly is made up of a wide variety of trails and paths, and has miles of loamy New England single track. Racers have been told to expect plenty of roots, several rock gardens, and short punchy climbs.
The course length is 4.5 miles with an elevation gain of only 338 feet per lap. This perhaps will be the flattest Pro-XCT race of all time. The longest climb appears to be only a 75-foot gain in elevation. The men will race four laps, while the women will race three laps.
On the women’s side, young Maghalie Rochette (Luna Pro Team) is likely to battle veteran New England native, Crystal Anthony (Riverside Racing). Rochette has shown on many occasions that she is ready and able to assume the mantle from her more experienced team-mates. The Luna Pro Team has been the number one women’s team in the world cup rankings for several years in a row, and Rochette is one of their major hopes for the future.
A former podium finisher at the Windham, NY Pro-XCT, Anthony will have the hometown advantage. She raced as recently as last weekend on trails just a few miles from the site of the Boston Rebellion. While she is better known for her cyclocross prowess, she will have the advantage of experience on New England singletrack, plus she will not have to travel
Rochette seems to be looking forward to the event. She commented, “I am actually pretty excited to come back to New England! People in Boston and he whole New England area have a reputation for always putting on amazing races, and I've seen a lot of publicity and good comments about that race in Boston.”
Rochette added, “The timing is also great as the event will be exactly one week before the Candadian National Championships. It will be good to test out how everything is going, and try to snag a good result to boost the confidence right before Nationals.”
On Sunday the pros will race in a short track event. Not totally dissimilar to cyclocross racing, Anthony and Rochette are again likely to duke it out. Both have won cyclocross races on New England dirt.
Wells, a former Short Track National Champion, has already won several short track events this season. He will also be the odds-on favorite to reclaim the title at the Mammoth Mountain national championships just over a week away. Mitch Hoke, however, proved at Catamount last year that he is capable of pulling of an upset.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews.com for results, race recaps, and photos from the Boston Rebellion.