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MTB mudbath in store
- Updated: April 15, 2011
Course designers Nigel Hicks and Nick Floris had to scramble to repair the UCI MTB World Cup downhill course in time for this weekend’s national championships following a devastating hailstorm, but the critically acclaimed track is ready for the two weeks of racing.
The hail that hammered Town Hill on Wednesday night left 32 trees fallen across the track, and converted the 420-metre long track into a mudbath.
“There was hail lying 10cm thick a day after the storm,” said Hicks. “It took a full day with a chainsaw to get rid of the trees that had been felled by the storm, so that riders could get time to practice on the course.”
With regular rain forecast for the next few days Hicks predicts that the nationals will be a damp affair, and the unique slippery mud that is formed by the clay-based soil at the Cascades layout, would provide a tough test for the riders, which will include several big name internationals eager to test the course under race conditions before the World Cup next weekend.
“There is a mud puddle of note near the top of the course near the big rock, which is at least 20 cm deep,” said Hicks. “When it has just rained it can be like an ice-rink on the hill. The guy who wins is often the guy who stays on his bike.”
Hicks is excited about the changes to the course that hosted the successful 2009 UCI MTB World Cup, which include extending its total length by 200m to create easier access to the start for the riders teams and support crews.
“The course has a bit of everything,” said Hicks. “It is technical and tough on the first half, the third quarter is physical and the final quarter has great moto elements. It will be a good test of stamina and skill.”
Hicks has singled out the spectator-friendly Money Maker drop as the key section for the elite riders with aspirations of making it onto the podium.
“It is what its name implies,” said Hicks. “It is an 18 metre step-down jump — that means the riders are a storey high at the top of the jump. There is an option of taking the chicken run around the drop but that is slower. This is where the big guns will play their strategic cards.”
Hicks confirmed that the designers had made a number of changes to the course, including a number of new rock gardens and two new rhythm sections to break up the 45-second pedal into three sections. “From there on in you just hang on for dear life,” he said.
He alluded to a key development during the 2009 event where Australian Sam Hill outpaced world number one Gee Atherton, simply because he was able to put together a run that mastered the technical and physical demands.
“This course is not as technical as some of the other World Cup courses you get, but it is going to reward the rider who can put together the moto, endurance and technical elements.”