PRO XCT/US CUP #1 PHOTO GALLERY
The second national cross-country race of the season kicks off this weekend in Fontana, California.
With the full contingent of men racing two weeks ago not far away in Bonelli Park, the Fontana Pro XCT/US CUP race should see a more robust field of women. Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) dusted the competition finishing more than two minutes ahead of Lea Davison (Specialized Factory Racing).
Set to race this weekend, however, are Canadian veterans Catharine Pendrel, Gould’s teammate, and overall winner of the XC for the 2010 World Cup. Marie Helene Premont (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), the 2004 Athens Olympic silver medalist, is also expected to throw down.
On the men’s side the most notable news at Bonelli Jeremiah Bishop’s return to form in cross-country racing. Bishop had a two-year absence from XC events as he focused racing endurance and stage race events.
At Bonelli, Bishop took a gutsy win on a last lap charge in Saturday’s cross-country races, and then the former U.S. short-track national champion let it be known he means business in 2011 by taking Sunday’s short-track race over Specialized’s Max Plaxton.
The quiet story of the weekend was Raphael Gagne out of Quebec. The Maxxis-Rocky Mountain rider had a break-out ride with a top-five on the weekend and the young Canadian looks to back up his performance or even better it coming into this weekend’s race.
The Fontana pro cross-country course won’t see any major changes for 2011. Racers will be faced with one of the longest, steepest climbs on the circuit, known to insiders as “National Hill.” where legends like Tinker Juarez, Johnny T and others suffered the 30-percent pitches.
Recent rains have left the soil super tacky, so the dust in year’s past won’t be a factor.
“With the weather forecast calling for a slight chance of rain during the week, the course is going to be unreal,” said Ty Kady, US Cup vice president. “The deposed granite just soaks up the water so well out here in Fontana that I think we will see some really fast racing this weekend.”
The loop is expected to be 4.2 miles with over 700 feet of climbing per lap. A mixture of fire road, twisty single track, the rock “elevator” drop and a paved climb will make this course very tactical as seen in years past. Riders can sit on, draft and use team tactics more than was seen at the Bonelli Course just two weeks ago.
Super D and STXC
The US Cup Triple Crown All Mountain Pro Series will also offer additional racing for pros who race more than just XC on Saturday. Late Saturday afternoon pro’s will race the Super D, and then return Sunday for Short Track race.
The rider with the best two scores on the weekend will win additional prize money, on top of Saturday’s Pro XCT event, which is an UCI C1 XCO race. In the Triple Crown format, a rider can drop his or her highest score from either the Super D or short-track event to combine with their cross country result. Together the two lowest total scores win on the weekend.
“We have a set payout based on rider turnout for the Triple Crown overall,” Kady said. “For example, Tier 1 payout puts another $400 in the Triple Crown winners pocket and pays ten deep. We then are offering an additional $2,500 to the male and female series winner which finishes June 4 and 5 at Santa Ynez, for a total of $10,000 to the top three series riders”