The final instalment of ‘Courses of the 2018 World Cup’ takes us to Switzerland for the biggest race of the season, the World Championships. Based out of Lenzerheide, the World Champs for 2018 was the most viewed World Champs of the previous years with a cumulative audience of 46 million viewers!
Lenzerheide is nestled in the mountains on the shores of a small lake and is a great place in the world to explore away from racing. The race course is just up from the town and might be one of the most deceptively easy looking tracks on the circuit. There is very little elevation change save for the asphalt climb near the start of the course. While it might look easy and not have much climbing, it is probably one of the hardest courses to race.
The course is at medium altitude at 1400-1500m which, while not having a massive effect compared to Andorra for example, does still put a sting into the chest when you’re sprinting in a World Champs race! Compounding this is the lack of recovery, which is one of the biggest tests of the Lenzerheide course. Only having one climb means the Lenzerheide course only has one real descent, which lasts a measly 30 seconds at the most. For around a 12-minute lap, 30 seconds goes by pretty quick.
With the climb and ‘descent’ out of the way it’s onto the forest trails of Lenzerheide. Or more precisely, roots of Lenzerheide. As most of the forest sections are covered in roots save for the ‘better watch out for cows’ section through the grass. That section of very short climbs and descents has a lot of flow in the dry and is great to ride with two decent drops adding some spice.
Right after though is the first root filled section. In the dry it’s tough but manageable; in the wet it’s a nightmare with some small climbs and descents all on roots. Trying to piece together this section to link one set of roots to the other in the right combination is very tricky and a great test. Combination is an important word as most of the course is taped wide to enable multiple line choices, which is something I really like.
The next section is out in the open but still full of roots and now rocks are added into the mix! This also features the Mercedes-Benz Rock, which is a very tricky rock roller to do in the wet as the entry is covered in roots and the rock has zero grip when wet, so pinpoint accuracy is needed. Accuracy that’s needed seven times in a row while getting beat up by the terrain and competition!
Getting beat up by the terrain is the hardest part of Lenzerheide as every section is rough with roots, rocks or generally hard riding. There is very little time to coast and catch a breath. This makes pacing important as the altitude and the physicality of the track means if you go too far into the red you can’t simply coast a section to recover. Not that that’s ever really a possibility in a World Cup! The roughness also makes set-up very important as you need a very balanced tyre pressure and suspension feel to keep glued to the ground when you need to pedal over the roots and rocks.
This Lenzerheide course is one of the best to show the difference between road and mountain biking. Simply being able to pedal a bike is not enough as you need to be able to handle the intense vibrations of the terrain while staying smooth on the technical sections. Another true mountain biking test! I hope this series has given you a little insight into the World Cup courses of 2018 and what makes a great course to race on. Looking back, the variety of the courses was great to see, as was the test they all posed that allowed mountain bikers to excel. I would pick Nove Mesto as my favourite, even though I crashed on the start straight, again … #worldcupracing with La Bresse a close second. Both great natural courses with good variation and technical sections.
If you missed the first few parts of the series take a look back below!
Bike – Norco Revolver FS 2 Custom
Suspension – Fox
Gearing – Shimano 11-46/36t
Components – Shimano/Pro/Mt Zoom
Wheels – Stans Podium SRD
Tyres – Maxxis Ikon 2.0
Power meter – Stages + Stages Dash computer
Made shiny by Krush