It wasn’t necessarily an easy road for the Olympic XCO venue. Organizers first set eyes on Weald Country Park, Essex. But after a visit to the sight, UCI gave a bi "no no", as the course was considered too easy.
A lot of debate followed, but Essex was still determined to get the gig. And they did. Situated by the Thames Estuary, UCI found exactly what they were looking for in Hadleigh Farm, a 550 acre property owned by the The Salvation Army.
It’s accessible, spectator friendly and suitable for tv coverage .There’s no risk of riders disappearing amongst the bushes, leaving you with 10 minutes of tree footage and commentators’ ramblings. All the conditions are there to have a hell of a show and draw more people into the sport.
Now let’s look at the track.
As you can see, the track was built on the "back" of a hill. The riders will be going in a anticlockwise direction. Down, up, down and then up again for the finish. The numbers? For each lap there’s 4,8 kilometers, 172 m of climbing and an estimated time of 13 minutes to be ridden. Multiply this for seven and you get the whole picture.
If you’re still not satisfied, here’s a video. You will notice that one of the hallmarks of the track are the so called "rock-gardens". They are nothing more than a bunch of rocks artificially placed along the way, providing a launch-pad for the technically gifted to make their move. They have been growing in popularity at the World Cups and World Championships. Other than those, the terrain doesn’t offer much in the way of difficulty.
So when you compare all the data with a standard World Cup race you come to three conclusions on the course: 1) it’s flat; 2) It’s fast; 3) It’s not (that) technical.
Now I’m not saying it’s not going to be a show. These riders don’t have to worry about a fellow fat sprinter or a climber that can’t descent. It’s chaos on the track and they know the only plan to get the elusive medal is one of "ATTACK".
Just be advised. If you don’t like it…give XCO another shot. If you love it..fantastic! The rest of the season is 10x the awesomeness and you're still in time to get the World Championships.
1) For the women race there will be 30 riders. For the men 50. It’s a bunch start and the riders are assigned their place as per their ranking. So line 1 has 1-8th rider, line 2 has 9-16 th and so on.
2) Feed/Technical zone is THE place to solve a puncture, a broken chain or other mechanical. If a rider has a mechanical 2 metres after passing the technical zone, he has to ride the full lap until going through tech again. (Yes it has happened before!). This means the race can change at any time. Raise arms only after crossing the finish line!
3)t is common practice for the XCO course to offer alternate lines. This are…um..an alternative to a section which is either too technical or likely to deteriorate as the race evolves. In the first case scenario, the alternate line is usually easier, but also longer. So you'll probably see riders going separate ways for a bit and it's completely normal!
4) hope to get another preview. This time with the contenders and other thoughts on the race. For now. I hope you enjoy.