Cross country bikers are headed to a winter wonderland this weekend. The Val di Sole World Cup stadium was once again covered in a thick layer of snow. This is not only a challenge for the course creators (see video below), but also for the riders themselves. “But they don’t have to fear the rink,” comes a reassuring signal from Italy.
For those who still have doubts: Yes, we will have a snow cross in Val di Sole on Sunday.
Chris Mannerts, who is monitoring the construction of the course for organizer Flanders Classics, confirmed: “There was still some uncertainty when there was heavy rain last Friday and the snow suddenly disappeared, but on Saturday we got a big pack. Snow – again with the help of the weather gods.”
According to weather forecasts, this layer, which is “about twenty centimeters” thick, will remain pleasant until Sunday.
“The weather stays consistent here,” Mannaerts explains. “There won’t be much snow anymore, but the snow that has fallen will definitely not melt anymore. It seems we picked the perfect week.”
Aesthetically, the white cross will look beautiful on screen again, but the snowy carpet will also have its sporting consequences. “But riders don’t have to be afraid of the rink, they can usually find good snow.”
Of course, snowfall also brings challenges for the course builders themselves.
Just ask official Chris Mannerts, who wanted to talk to us quickly yesterday “before he has to make a straight line with the finish truck.”
Building a cross trail isn’t a one-week job anyway, but building a cross trail covered in a thick layer of snow requires a little more flexibility.
“We map out a plan in advance for each cross. Usually the route stays 100% the same when we actually start building, but with the snow cross, we always have to improvise a little more.”
If we encounter a patch of ice, we try to change course.
In this way, the passenger safety aspect is also taken into account.
“If we encounter a patch of ice on the original path, we try to redirect the path so that we do not take any risks. Falling on ice is always harder than falling on mud.”
Driving experience in the snow.
Last year, Van Empel and Iserbyt, among others, were involved in a severe accident. Although that seems inevitable with the Cross, the organization made an additional change this year.
Iserbyt then crashed while descending the big climb, but that was removed from the route layout that year.
“For many reasons, but also for safety,” Mannaerts says. “We’re replacing climbs with more short climbs and turns, in order to reduce pure speed. And to make cross-country more technically interesting.”
What will remain are the artificial snow hills in the course. The organization has already requested help from snow specialists from the nearest ski area.
“They make these obstacles possible thanks to snow cannons, artificial snow and, above all, their expertise. If we did it ourselves, things wouldn’t go so well, I’m afraid,” Mannerts – who went to the final truck – concluded with a wink.
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