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It's been five months since World Cup racing began. Now the world's best mountain bikers will wrap up the season in North America, racing first in Windham, New York this weekend, followed by the World Championships next weekend at Mont Saint Anne.
A profile of Windham XC course.
World Cup racers compete Saturday on the 5.2 kilometer course in Windham, which features the "Alpe d'Huez" climb, a downhill chute and a number of tunnels and bridges, including the Troll Bridge, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge and the 108 foot long "108" bridge.
By winning three of the five races so far this season,Australia'sJared Graves has locked down the title with an unbeatable 135 point lead over Slavik Tomas (Czech Republic).
With her World Cup title close, Jonnier will be looking ahead to the World Championships, where she will likely have to fend off tough competition from second ranked Emmeline Ragot (France), who has beat her in the past two World Cup races by a significant margin. France's Floriane Pugin, trails by 85 points.
lead; in a field of 30 riders scheduled to start, Jonnier needs just a 16th place finish to guarantee the title.
France's Sabrina Jonnier, who finished in first or second in every World Cup race this season, has held the women's lead since the second World Cup race in the season. Except for injury, Jonnier Nike Roshe Run New Black/White Speckled
Willow Koerber leading a group at Val di Sole. Photo credit: Ryan Schmitz
Hosts World Cup Finals
Cameron Cole, who started off the season in third and now is in seventh, recently said he will not race at the World Cup and the World Championships because of a broken wrist.
steep DH course promises fast action in Windham.
So long as Schurter and Absalon finish in seventh place or better, each is guaranteed first or second place. Third ranked Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic) trails by 120 points, followed by fourth ranked Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos. American racers to watch include Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan Kobelski and Adam Craig.
Besides the World Cup action, Windham Mountain will also feature a big wheel race Thursday, a block party Friday, two "citizens" races in downhill and cross country for pro and Cat 1 3 riders over the weekend and a free concert on Saturday.
Swiss rider Nino Schurter, with two World Cup wins so far this season, has a 26 point lead over France's Julien Absalon. The 50 point difference between winning first and second place is enough to tip the race to Absalon.
Race organizers said mountain bike course designer Phil Saxena oversaw construction of the four cross course, which features 25 jumps, the largest of which is 45 to 50 feet long.
If Pendrel is able to get second or better, she'll guarantee taking home the rainbow jersey. The women's field is filled with other talented riders, including fourth ranked Irinia Kalentieva (Russia) and fifth ranked Georgia Gould. American women compete in the cross country race include Mary McConneloug, Heather Irmiger, Katie Compton and Pua Sawicki.
Sabrina Jonnier races at Leogang, Austria, at DH 3. Photo credit: UCI/Gary Perkin
Great Britain's Gee Atherton leads the men's downhill, but with South Africa's Greg Minnaar only seven points behind, the title could either way. The two downhill stars have dominated the series this year, alternately taking first place in every World Cup race this season except for in Val di Sole, where sixth ranked Brit Marc Beaumont scored Roshe Nike Women Red a downhill win.
Second ranked Eva Lechner (Italy) has about the same shot at the title as Koerber, as she is 54 points behind.
The United States' best hope for a World Cup title will be at the women's cross country race, where third ranked Willow Koerber trails Catherine Pendrel (Canada) by just 59 points. Koerber started off the season strong, taking the lead two races into the season at Houffalize. Two stumbles this season in Offenburg and Val di Sole where she finished 13th and 10th have knocked her down to third overall, but the home crowd and lighter travel fatigue are sure to help as Koerber heads into the finals.
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No matter what happens in the finals on Sunday, with more than 300 points between them and the next rider, both are guaranteed at least a second place finish. The next spot on the podium seems likely to go to third ranked Samuel Blenkinshop (New Zealand), but it's still possible for fourth ranked American Aaron Gwin to overtake him.
Organizers says the downhill course will be fast and steep with a blend of rocks, roots and occasional dirt. Features include the Big Booter, the Bowling Alley and the recently added Wall Street Road Gap.
Graves' strong record puts him in a likely position to win the World Championships, but Tomas and third ranked Joost Wichman, who trails in the World Cup by 125 points, have both challenged Graves in 4X events throughout the season.
Women's 4X leader Anneke Beerten, who in recent races has raised her game far above the rest of the women's field, will look to take her World Cup successes into the World Championships. Austria's Anita Molcik has struggled to keep up with Beerten's technical skills on 4X courses, but her speed also gives her a good shot at Mont Saint Anne.
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