After the top American racers assembled in Mammoth, California for the US National Mountain Bike Championships a couple weeks ago, racing now lands on the east coast for the Boston Rebellion in Walpole, Massachusetts. The final race of the US Cup series, the UCI HC will draw a large international field one week ahead of the Mont Sainte-Anne World Cup next weekend.
Stephen Ettinger, who currently sits third on the US Cup standings, will be the only attendee from the top five. For Ettinger, merely finishing the race should see him move to the top of the leader board.
“This is the last Ridebiker event and the last US Cup of the season,” says Ettinger. “Raph [Gagne] and Howie [Grotts] won’t be here. It’s pretty tight at the top – the top three are only separated by eight points. I have to make it to the finish line inside the top 15 and should be good to go for the overall win.”
With big points on the line and trying to shake off jet lag before the Canadian world cup, several heavy hitters from Europe will toe the line in Walpole. The Focus XC Team has brought four of its riders – Swiss racer, Florian Vogel, currently ranked eighth in the world, Marcel Guerini, third at the 2016 U23 World Championships, Martin Gujan and Markus Schulte-Lunzum.
“It will be awesome to have a handful of Europeans here,” says Ettinger. “It could be pretty fast at the sharp end. Because it’s a course where there’s not a lot of passing, it could be a pretty big group winding through the forest all day.”
Racing through Adams Farm, the track is a mix double-track, fire roads and twisty single-track through the dense forest. It won’t be the most challenging race due to technicality, but it will be a test of speed.
“There’s not much climbing at all,” Ettinger says. “There are a couple short 20 meter punches, otherwise it’s really flat with a lot of cornering. The questions will be ‘how fast can you go’, ‘how much do you trust your tires’.
“It will come down to who is that much better than everyone else on the medium speed corners,” says Ettinger. “One meter turns into two meters turns into five meters. Small gaps open up. Someone will apply the pressure in some of the twisty stuff and that’s what decides it. If you get stuck behind the wrong wheel, it makes it tough.”
After the cross country race on Saturday, Ettinger and the rest of the field will line up for short track on Sunday. All around it should be a good, fun atmosphere of racing for Ettinger and the rest of the Ridebiker Alliance crew.
“I hope to get a win in the short track,” says Ettinger. “This will be the last weekend we will all be together before everyone heads separate directions for the fall. It will be a fun, light weekend, and we’ll all try to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Pro men's racing begins at 1pm EST on Saturday and 12:45pm EST on Sunday.