The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is returning to Windham, New York on August 7-10. One week after the international circuit stops in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, the only American World Cup will host both cross country and downhill racing as in past years and will also add eliminator racing for the first time.
"We are so thrilled to have the World Cup returning to Windham and to the US after a one-year absence," Assistant Race Director Lori Torgersen told Cyclingnews.
"Windham kept the racing action strong in 2013 with a US National race (both Pro XCT and Pro GRT), but it's an incredible economic boost for the region and a feather in our cap to have the elite World Cup athletes compete on our courses and bring their teams and thousands of fans.
Windham first hosted the World Cup in 2010. Two more years followed in 2011 and 2012 as part of the same initial hosting bid. Organizers have submitted a new bid for 2015, but the UCI has not yet decided its 2015 World Cup schedule.
For American riders, Windham is the only chance to race a World Cup in their own country
"Racing on home soil for a World Cup means a lot to me because usually we have to travel so far for all the other rounds," said downhill racer Jill Kintner. "It is nice to be in a familiar place with extremely patriotic fans, a welcoming town, and a unique track. We have met a lot of nice local people who love that the best riders in the world come to their mountain, so I am excited to do my best for a podium for them."
This year's cross country and downhill courses are similar to previous years, but they have undergone some tweaking as they are constantly improved.
The 5.1km cross country course features 197m in elevation gain and loss. Course designer Mike Henry noted a few changes like a new bridge in the Frog Bog area, a new Whirlwind section with jumps, berms and a rock garden; and a revamped mini wall section which includes a new bridge.
"The course is fantastic. Really - great job to the designers," said US short track national champion Georgia Gould (Luna). "No matter what the conditions are - muddy, slimy - it works. It doesn't turn into a 5km run. There is a bit of everything - technical areas, roots, rocks, faster sections, singletrack and passing areas - Windham totally mixes it up."
The 1.8km downhill drops 394m and begins with a new start house backed up in the woods. The infamous 40-foot Road Gap jump is still part of the course, but there is a new approach to the Big D rock drop, a new Graveyard section and a revamped Pete's Plunge. Three large jumps will finish off the course, one big, one bigger and one the biggest.
"It will be really awesome to be racing in a World Cup event so close to home," said downhiller Neko Mulally. "I grew up in Pennsylvania, so I'm probably one of the top athletes who will be closest to home. Whenever you go to a World Cup, the local riders have an advantage because of the familiarity. Hopefully, this give us an edge. I haven't done great at Windham the last few times but I'm looking forward to a good result this year."
Check out this video of downhill coordinator Justin Brigandi on the 2014 downhill course.
Fun for everyone
There is racing for both pro and amateur downhillers at Windham, or fans can just come out and watch.
"It's always so exciting to have such an influx of visitors from so many different countries (and even continents) and to get an opportunity to welcome them to our charming mountain top community," said Torgersen.
"The other part of World Cup week in Windham that we most look forward to is that there is something happening every minute - from the elite racing to the full amateur race schedule to all of the festival events including our downtown block party, a ride the plank challenge (over the snow-making pond at Windham Mountain), a DJ with a laser light show and fireworks and so much more. We have "Race the World" for cross country and downhill, pumptrack and kids race.
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