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Pro, Amateur Courses Set for Sun Valley XC Nats

The 2010 USA Cycling mountain bike nationals were held at Sol Vista in Colorado. Photo by Brad Kaminski

The last time Sun Valley, Idaho hosted the mountain bike national championships it was 1988, when John Tomac was ruling the dirt and establishing the sport in the broader cycling world.

Come July 14-17, cross-country nationals return to Sun Valley featuring two distinct courses for amateurs and elites.

Cross-Country (XCO-Amateur)

Beginning at the base of Bald Mountain in Sun Valley, riders will begin through the twisty, technical river bottom before ascending along the Big Wood River and then begin climbing the flanks of “Baldy,” the ski area hosting this year’s event.

Once a grueling singletrack climb has been assailed, riders will point it downhill and descend down a service road into the flowy River Run Trail, which never really allows for rest, but rewarding the smooth and efficient. Then riders head back into the lower circuit finishing up their lap. The nearly 8-kilometer course incorporates all elements of classic mountain biking: rugged singletrack climbs, technical rock sections, high-speed service roads, and rewarding descents. Racers will finish on the River Run base area’s front lawn.

USA Cycling’s Cross-Country Olympic (XCO) (Pro)

Course designers took out every page of the UCI rulebook and capitalized on its nuances, designing a diverse and challenging course representative of the local riding. It’s fast. It’s technical. It’s grueling. And it flows. A classic service road climb interrupted by technical features dumps riders off at the lower River Run Trail. Here a fast, flowing descent forces riders to conserve energy but still maintain momentum. This 6km circuit serves up a classic national championship experience rewarding the strong, the smooth and the technically savvy.

After being hosted by Sol Vista Resort in Colorado for several years, USA Cycling’s XC nats will run July 14-17 at first-time venue Bald Mountain, which is operated by Sun Valley Resort. Along with racers gunning for Stars-and-Stripes jerseys in XC, Super D and short-track, the Sun Valley Chamber and Visitors Bureau is hosting the Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival presented by Scott Sports.

Meanwhile, 2011 is the first year that the cross-country and gravity mountain bike nationals will be split. The USA Cycling Gravity Mountain Bike National Championships is set for Sept. 24-25 on North Carolina’s Beech Mountain.

For course maps and a detailed schedule of events go to www.ridesunvalley.com.

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