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Preview: UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Snowshoe, West Virginia

World Cup downhill and XC mountain bike racing comes to the USA, September 15-19.

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The UCI mountain bike World Cup series is sending off the 2021 season in the USA.

This week, the downhill and cross-country mountain bike circuits will descend on the Snowshoe ski resort in the hills of West Virginia for the final World Cup of 2021, and the only test on U.S. soil. The venue debuted in September of 2019 — that year, then-world champ Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and fellow Red Bull rider Lars Forster won the elite XCO events. Jenny Rissveds and Nino Schurter took the short track.

The Snowshoe World Cup wraps up an eventful season of World Cup mountain bike racing. From Frenchwoman Loana Lecomte’s phenomenal sweep of four XCO races, to Evie Richards becoming the first British MTB world champion, to Nino Schurter’s ninth set of rainbow stripes and the debut of the short track world championships, 2021 served up more than enough excitement to make up for 2020’s dearth of racing.

Riders from North America will be stoked to line up in West Virginia, where their friends and families can cheer for them in person after a nearly two-year hiatus. Five women will be representing Team USA in Snowshoe — Kate Courtney, Hannah Finchamp, Haley Batten, Kelsey Urban, and Lea Davison. On the men’s side, Christopher Blevins has just returned from the Tour of Britain to debut his rainbow stripes at the short track race.

According to Team USA’s Lea Davison, Snowshoe’s XCO track rides like a mashup of some of the other World Cup venues’ best features.

“There are some techy sections, and it’s a nice mix of challenging climbing on fire roads and woods sections,” she said. “I would say Val di Sole is one of the steepest tracks, and Lenzerheide is relentlessly natural tech with roots, woods, and line choices. Snowshoe falls somewhere between those two on the spectrum of tracks. Not as relentlessly techy and not as steep but a great mixture of the two elements.”

Blevins, who raced at Snowshoe as a U23 rider in 2019, hinted at the type of racing that might go down on Sunday.

“Lots of roots out there,” Blevins said. “If it’s anything like 2019, it was a very tactical race. The closest World Cup to a road race, which is kinda good for me right now. It was a big group of maybe 10 ’til the last lap.”

Viewers in North America can rejoice that they won’t have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to catch the live racing. From Wednesday through Sunday, all of the Snowshoe events will be streamed live on RedBull TV.

UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe schedule (all times listed in Eastern Daylight Time)

September 15: Women’s downhill (DH) race 1, 8:30 a.m.; Men’s DH race 1, 9:45 a.m.

September 17: Women’s and men’s short track (XCC) final, 1:20 p.m.

September 18: Women’s DH final, 8:30 a.m.; Men’s DH final, 9:45 a.m.

September 19: Women’s XCO final, 8:00 a.m.; Men’s XCO final, 10:30 a.m.