The final showdown: Red Bull TV wraps up the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season in Val di Sole
16 races across eight countries are now behind us. Red Bull TV has trotted the globe capturing the sweat and tears (of joy), thrilling action and dramatic moments. Now the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano will come to an end in Val di Sole (ITA) on 22 and 23 August 2015. (Almost) nothing has been decided yet – it is tit-for- tat and wheel-to-wheel for the last time.
Within the DHI Men's Elite, Aaron Gwin might want to try and keep his bike in one piece for this race in order to fend off his rivals. His closest competitor, Greg Minnaar could be fast enough to put a spoke in his plans in the final seconds. But the first World Cup overall title is still within reach for youngster Loic Bruni. After his injury, Steve Smith has not had the comeback he was probably hoping for but a chance for a top 20 finish is still not he cards. Despite this, the downhill maestro will certainly keep firing until he crosses the line – so be prepared for a hot run from the Canadian ripper.
Amongst the XCO Women Elite the defending champion Jolanda Neff also stands a good chance of claiming the crown. However, the Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle is close on Jolanda's tail and never misses an opportunity to attack. The Canadian Catharine Pendrel is well behind Gunn-Rita, sitting comfortably in third. But what can she conger up for her last race in Val di Sole? Fellow maple leaf rider, Emily Batty has had a great season. A good result in the season finale could see her overtake Lea Davison in the standings and finish in 4th place overall.
What do you expect for Val di Sole?
Catharine: Val di Sole has been a good race for me in the past. I will ride for a podium performance but hope to earn a win.
Emily: I've had some really good success at Val di Sole so anything less than a podium would be a disappointment. However, I've been training quite hard for Worlds and I'll likely be a bit tired for the final round in Italy.
How do you prepare yourself for this track?
Catharine: The challenges of Val di Sole are the numerous steep climbs and managing the heat. Repeated short (2- 3min) intense intervals are good prep for this course. The descents are quite short and are all about carrying good speed into them and staying smooth.
Emily: I'm going to give it my best like every world cup I do. My preparation should be good as I've came to Europe early, got on the correct time zone, settled in for some hard training and a good routine.
What do you think about your season?
Catharine: My season has been solid, very consistent but no spectacular wins yet ;-) on the World Cup. I feel good and like this, a great ride can still happen this year.
Emily: It's been pretty good overall. I'd say there is always room for improvement and especially at Czech, that race really set me back in the standings and I always like to start the series with a stronger result. I've been really consistent, haven't made many mistakes and I've done a good job at maintaining if not improving my level of fitness as the season has moved forwards.
Top 5 tips from Catharine Pendrel: "How to make it on the podium."
1. Enter each race prepared to give your best. Have a race plan and stick to it.
2. Race to win, not to get a good result.
3. Focus ahead; that's where you want to go.
4. Focus on fundamentals (cadence, power delivery, smooth riding, looking through corners). 5. Look forward to racing!