Saturday, May 23, 2009

World Cup racing returns to Spain

Madrid is the final cross country of the UCI World Cup spring campaign and the last chance for riders to shine at this highest level of competition for two months, so the competition will be intense on Sunday.

As one of the more unique World Cups on the circuit, Madrid offers the highest level of competition in the center of a major capital city. Held in the 1,800-hectacre Casa de Campo park, the event brings out tens of thousands of spectators, who can easily access the site by subway right next to the course.

The seven-kilometre course does not feature the long climbs of some of the more mountainous venues, but is by no means easy. Multiple short, sharp climbs and fast, hardpacked straightaways mean that there is nowhere to rest on this circuit. Add in the usual blazing sun, high temperatures and dust, and this becomes a race of attrition.

However, this year may see the first ever wet World Cup in Madrid. Rain moved in Friday evening, and continues to fall sporadically through training on Saturday, with temperatures falling over ten degrees (Celsius). While the hardpacked dirt is not likely to turn into mud bogs, it is making some downhill sections slick, and the formerly fast singletrack surprisingly slow.

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