It’s all set to go off in Portugal as the UCI MTB World Cup downhill gets a new venue. Here’s the essential guide to Lousã and what to expect from the racing. The UCI like to spring a surprise or two every year in terms of locations they choose for the World Cup and October 29 this year sees a new location and circuit for the elite riders to get to grips with – Lousã in Portugal.
Where are we?
Well, Lousã is located in central Portugal and is approximately 27km away from one of Portugal’s main cities, Coimbra. The downhill course and Lousã’s network of mountain bike trails sit within the Serra da Lousã mountain range. The town of Lousã is itself very small, but there are quite a number of schist villages (named after the stone used in the construction of the houses there) that exist on the slopes of the Serra da Lousã.The main attraction for visitors, apart from hiking and mountain biking, is the Castelo da Lousã castle, which dates from the 11th Century.The Serra da Lousã is home to Louzan Park, a mountain bike trail centre that is the meeting point from where to explore up to 25 all-mountain trails including three high-difficulty downhill tracks.
What’s the track like?
The World Cup track is fast but has super technical sections on it. The top section of the course is flowy, but then that gives away to tight turns and roots as the track goes into denser forest areas. Riders will have to judge their speed going into parts of the course.
Will the Lousã track be a surprise to the DH elite?
Well that’s an interesting question. It ‘ll be definitely virgin racing territory for some like Aaron Gwin and fellow riders who aren’t based in Europe. During the off-season it’s a popular place for the pros to ride to either get in some testing or a place to escape bleaker weather at home.Suspension firm Fox use Lousã regularly as a testing location for their products and some downhill teams follow them down. Portugal national races have been regularly held in Lousã, while the 2018 European Mountain Bike Downhill Championships were also held there. The World Cup track will be more or less the same as used in those events.
Who to watch in Portugal
As mentioned, the course will be new to many of the downhill racers, but at this level the pros easily learn and adapt. That said, you’d be hard pressed not to back people who’ve raced against the clock here before.The French have dominated the Portugal Cup races held in Lousã. Myriam Nicole has won the women’s race there the last three times it has been run. For the men, Amaury Pierron won in Lousã in 2018 and 2019. Commencal team-mate Remi Thirion took the crown in 2017. Pierron does look like he has the measure of Lousã, but a potential challenger could be Danny Hart who has also raced Portugal Cup there and ridden at the location off-season.
At the European Mountain Bike Downhill Championship held two years ago in April 2018, the men’s race was won by local Portuguese favourite Francisco Pardal. Pardal understandably races in Lousa regularly, but his career results doesn’t suggest he’ll have the pace to worry the very best.Monika Hrastnik took the women’s crown at those championships. Veronika Widmann and Camille Balanche also raced the Euros, and given their improvement as racers in 2019, they could be a challenger to overwhelming favourite Nicole.
|Portugal Cup||2019||Amaury Pierron||Myriam Nicole|
|European Championships||2018||Francisco Pardal||Monika Hrastnik|
|Portugal Cup||2018||Amaury Pierron||Myriam Nicole|
|Portugal Cup||2017||Rémi Thirion||Myriam Nicole|
Where and when to watch on Red Bull TV
You can watch all the downhill action from the Lousã leg of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill World Cup on Red Bull TV
first published www.redbull.com