The early season Spanish cross country race in Banyoles, just outside Girona in north west Spain, is an innocuous enough event, but due to its position early in the season, it attracts more than its fair share of top competitors and new riders and bikes. Add in the C1 category, meaning lots of UCI points (100 points for an Elite win) in an Olympic selection year and it wasn’t surprising to see most of the global top ten turn up for the race, along with a host of up and comers (including the whole Team GB development squad…)
//Spoiler alert – contains Short Track Race results spoilers…//
Hiding in plain sight – in the top five of the Women’s short track event was a ‘secrecy wrapped’ new bike from Specialized, with its suspension gubbins hidden from view by a neoprene sheath.
With our X-Ray vision, we’re guessing that there’s some kind of in-line rear shock, perhaps half-buried underneath and/or inside the top tube – which would make it similar to the Trek Supercaliber – but patents and all that will ensure that it’s going to be a little different under that cloak.
And while we’re doing our super-zooming… What’s that rear mech? It would appear to be a new SRAM mech (given the rest of the team’s sponsorship) that direct mounts to the dropout somehow. And given that SRAM has been generous in getting the bike company world to adopt the Universal Derailleur Hanger ‘standard’ it’s fair to say that it is somehow involved. A direct to UDH mount would give both a stiff rear mech and a further devotion to the SRAM ecosystem, forcing any brand that wanted to run the mech, to also embrace the UDH.
The new bike was certainly at the pointy end of the Short Track race, with Batten finishing fifth, a mere three seconds down on winner Loana Lecomte from Canyon. The race also featured a welcome sight of Brits Isla Short and Annie Last, with Last wearing the National Champion’s stripes after her relatively recent return to form.
The men’s short track was mostly a battle between German champion, Luca Schwarzbauer and Henri Avancini, now fronting his own Caloi Henrique Avancini Racing cross country team, having left Cannondale last year. (Luca won by 0.02secs in a three way sprint with Avancini and Cannondale’s Alan Hatherley…)
Also riding for Cannondale, was Brit, Charlie Aldridge, who managed a creditable fifth in the short track.
And with the mystery surrounding just who is going to be replacing the iconic Rob Warner in the commentary booth, now that Warner Bros/Discovery have bought the rights to broadcast UCI mountain biking up to the end of the decade, we have a few hunches that might pan out. Here’s a pic from the start of the men’s race of Ric Mclaughlin and Cedric Gracia – both had radio microphones with them, but weren’t part of the (trilingual!) live commentary at the event as far as I could tell. Ric has worked with Rob Warner at Red Bull and Cedric, well, is Cedric. Could this be our new commentary team? They’re here talking to Simon Burney, previously the UCI technical delegate, but now Head of Sport at the new ESO organisation. (Mind you, also at the race was Bart Brentjens, who often joined Warner in the commentary booth for cross country races. Hopefully we’ll find out soon.)
And finally, at the end of this little jaunt down to see some early season XC racing, a reminder to always cheer the back markers. They’re going as fast as they can, and trying as hard at the leaders are, so a little encouragement goes a long way
So, theories on the new Specialized XC bike? Have all the good ideas already been done? Or is there room for short travel innovation? Comment in the comments!
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