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28th Olympic Games - JO

Athens, Greece, August 14-28, 2004

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Canadian women fired up for MTB

Canada's women's team (Alison Sydor, Marie-Helene Premont, Kiara Bisaro) is one of the favourites to put at least one rider on the podium in the women's MTB race tomorrow. They took a few minutes to speak with our correspondent Rob Jones on the eve of their race.

Alison Sydor

Cyclingnews: Could you talk about the course, who it favours, what type of rider should do well?

Alison Sydor: I came here in May and rode the test event, and it has loosened up considerably since then. It is a lot more tricky and technical, with sandy, loose ground. But, we expected that this would occur, so it isn't a big surprise.

On Monday we were able to ride most of it (the organizers were still fixing the burned section), and the one change that the fire made was to take away a road section at the top and cut a new technical section, which is a net advantage for us. The other part that was affected by the fire is the forest cover, but not the trail. So, as far as affecting the course, our preparation, there has been no effect.

CN: Who is the course going to favour?

AS: It's the same as always; it's not about the course, it is who is best prepared, best on the day. It is not like Canadian riding, but technical is still technical, so that favours us. This is the most competitive field ever at the Olympics, I think (Sydor has competed in both previous mountain bike events at the Olympics). It is pretty demanding climbing, lots of accelerations. All things combined make it hard - it is hard not to crash, to deal with the heat, it is wearing on you.

CN: Hardtail or soft?

AS: Hardtail

Kiara Bisaro

CN: This is your first Olympics, are you feeling pressure?

KB: I'm getting more nervous as we get closer, but it is a positive nervous; I'm trying to take it and channel it for the race. But, once I start racing I won't be so nervous.

CN: How has it been with a veteran of Olympics like Alison?

KB: I'm so grateful, she's taught me so much. We became friends in the last year. Having a top rider like Alison in Canada has improved the sport immensely, and brings so many people in. We all look up to her.

CN: How about the course for you, it is not like what you train on.

KB: I come from Vancouver Island - it is wet, rooty, not at all like this! But I'm having fun on it. The toughest are the climbs, they are gradual, steady, with nowhere to rest. I don't think it will be won or lost in any particular spot; it is an unpredictable course. There are lots of corners, lots of ruts, braking bumps. For me, the heat hasn't been too bad, I haven't noticed it as a huge factor.

CN: What about Lori-Ann's gold medal?

KB: That was so inspiring. I touched a gold medal!

CN: Hardtail or soft?

KB: Hardtail

Marie-Helene Premont

CN: You moved to Rocky Mountain-Business Objects part way through the season, has it been a good move?

MHP: The move to Rocky is a good move. There is better race support and experience for me.

CN: Have you done anything different this year to prepare for the Games?

MHP: In training I didn't do anything different, I stayed with the program that works for me over the past few years. I think we (Team Canada) could do well here.

CN: How about for you, what do you think of this course for you?

MHP: I'm a consistent rider, so i hope it will be a good race for me. I like climbing as well, so it is good for me here. The loose gravel is the hardest to deal with; we are always on the edge, so we can crash more easily. I just hope at the end of the race that I did the best I can, and gave 100 percent.

CN: Who do you think the course suits?

MHP: The Euros will like this course - no roots, rocks, mud. The part that they added is better for us. Every girl here is well prepared, with good rest and training.

CN: Hardtail or soft?

MHP: Hardtail. There is lots of climbing, it is lighter, with new lighter Marzocchi fork.

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