Following the shutdown of US airspace after the terrorist bombings a number of competitors may not make it to the World Championships in Vail, Colorado, among them World XC Champ, Miguel Martinez.
The Frenchman has been training at altitude in Italy and was planning to fly to Denver a couple of days before Sunday’s final. Also experiencing trouble, say the organisers, are American dual duo Mike King and Brian Lopes. UCI president Hein Verbruggen has also been unable to attend.
Also missing the Champs, although for health reasons, is last years Womens’ Champ Margita Fullana. Organisers are bracing themselves for a reduced fields but won’t know the full extent of the depletion until later today.
The Championships is going ahead with a full programme despite the effects of the terrorist attacks although the new team cross country relay was postponed from yesterday (Wednesday).
The British XC and DH teams are already in Vail. Chris Furber of the BCF sends this report: "Today (Weds) the UCI decided that all the activities should go ahead though with a few changes to the schedule. Today practice started at 9.00 am for all riders, with Elite only practise from 1 till 3. All the British riders were up on the course early and seemed to be enjoying the track. The tough, technical course was always going to be hard on the bikes and sure enough it wasn't long before Paul and Glenn were fixing snapped crowns, broken mechs and fading brakes.
“So how did the riders do? Helen Gaskell coped very well with the course considering her big crash here last year and looks good for a medal in the junior women. For the Junior Men the fortunes were mixed. Jon Brain and Chris Marshall suffered mechanical and physical breakdowns following a series of hard falls, Jon Brain hit the same tree twice in a row and Chris Marshall snapped a bottom bracket in the tough rock drop section that most of the riders were struggling with. Both Gee Atherton and Marc Beaumont looked very good and had positive outcomes. My moment of the day was watching Gee follow World Cup winner Greg Minnar through possibly the toughest section of the course and looking the faster and smoother of the two.
“Steve Peat and Will Longden seemed to be enjoying the course but Rob Warner was suffering with a stiff back and Crawford's sore ankle was causing him problems. Both Tracey and Fionn had good runs all day. Fionn did have a big off whilst trying to become the first women ever to jump the rock drop section but a check up at the hospital confirmed no serious damage. Stack of the day went to Helen Mortimer who got front-end heavy on a road crossing before cartwheeling down the course at speed, leaving her unconscious and en route to Hospital. Scans and X-rays confirmed Helen was good enough to return to the hotel but whether she can race or not is a matter to discuss in the morning.
“Tonight we went to the opening ceremony and met up with the XC squad. The proceedings were understandably downbeat and consisted of a couple of speeches before the procession of flags. Not much cause to celebrate out here in America. Tomorrow (Thursday) there are the DH seeding runs which should give us a good idea of who is going well".