Sankt Wendel Course Preview
SANKT WENDEL, Germany (Jan. 28, 2011) – I just returned from the venue where I had to the awards rehearsal. This is my third world championships as an announcer and I’m getting it down. I have two sound guys, Roland and Jean Rene, who are French. Between my French, Spanish and English, we’re going to get along just fine.
I also walked the entire course. I try to do this before every race I announce.
This course may be perhaps the best “racers” course I’ve ever seen. The holeshot will not be as important as most ‘cross race as there are several places where a strong rider can advance and make up for a mistake or two. There are three power sections, grinding uphill grades on relatively smooth surfaces, where there will be a selection. There are a few technical sections, but given the weather conditions those should have a nominal impact on the race. There are several crowd-pleasing, white knuckle drop-offs all of which dump riders into sweeping turns.
In talking to Meredith Miller, who should excel on this course, the tire pressure will be kept low – we’re talking 23 psi – to keep her gripped to the course on those downhill turns. Also with us was Danny Summerhill, who planned to ride the course with a pair of Typhoons. There is a lot of talk of file treads as the course drained from super sloppy on Thursday to considerably drier and faster today. And forecasts call for sunshine.
Although frightening to watch, these drop-offs should be handled without incident for most of the fields. But the juniors, who go first, will have the course with its frozen ruts causing the most problem. Expect some blood on the first two laps of their race.
This course was designed for a January race and an expectation of racing on snow. But that is not the case, so we’ll get a high-speed, tactical race that could go down to a sprint on the running track.
Katie Compton will be great on this course. She could win with two mechanicals and a crash, given her form. But Hanka Kupfernagel will be on her best form racing in front of her German crowds.
The juniors are a bit of a lottery. But I’ll study results all night to get some handicapping done. Likewise the U23s have some parity, but we could see a great ride by Danny Summerhill on this course.
In the elite men? This course will favor the strongest team and that will be the Belgians. Will they show the respect to Sven Nys and ride in support? Clearly the strongest pair have been Kevin Pauwels and Niels Albert. I like Pauwels on this course. Zdenek Stybar with his injured knee will have to ride smart to win here, but he could do so. Remember he won a U23 title on this course.
The Dutch will not have Lars Boom. The Americans do not have Ryan Trebon on the start list.
Thanks for reading. Gotta fly.
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