Mountain Bike World Cup Cross-country kicks off at Houffalize

A record field of more than 400 competitors will line up at the start of the first leg of the 2008 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Olympic Cross Country competition this weekend.

Some 273 men and 130 women are expected on the start line in Houffalize, Belgium, on Sunday April 20. This represents a World Cup record both in numbers and in quality: the 60 top men and the 40 top women from last season (according to the 2007 World Cup classification) are registered to race. Absalon, Hermida, Sauser, Kalentieva, Prémont, Spitz, all the big names will be present.

The high quality turn-out is the result of an exceptional year, with Beijing and its Olympic Games providing the focal point. While some athletes are assured of their ticket to China, others have yet to qualify. The competition will therefore be fierce.

While the quality and quantity of the field is assured, the weather is the unknown factor. Rain and cold is predicted by the specialists, while the more pessimist are talking about snow.

However, bad weather could not dampen the enthusiasm that reigns in Houffalize in the run-up to the competition. While the more impatient competitors whet their appetites on the slopes of Arsenal or Ol Fosse d’Outh, others soak up the atmosphere in the village which is filling up each day with journalist, mechanics, spectators and competitors.

And for those who cannot be at Houffalize: turn on your computers and connect to sur www.universalbikeracing.com or www.massive-mag.tv from 10h30.

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