Australian Mountain Bike - - Between The Tape -

When we walked the Smith­field XCO course in 2013, we were stunned at the size of the drops, gaps and rock gar­dens that were be­ing built into the course, and we won­dered what was hap­pen­ing to XCO. Glen Ja­cobs from World Trail, who de­signed and built the trails, was adamant that he wanted to see rid­ers run­ning full­sus­pen­sion bikes all the time, and drop­per posts. And while Cairns was, and still is, the most com­mit­ting and tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing course on the World Cup cir­cuit, other cour­ses are get­ting harder, with more built fea­tures and de­mand­ing lines. It’s great on tele­vi­sion, but is it time the equip­ment rac­ers use catches up? We counted eight rid­ers in the top 10 seeded U23 women us­ing drop­per posts, and Jolanda Neff won her ti­tle with a drop­per post on her Kross hard­tail. Pauline Fer­rand Prevot had one on her Canyon too. But what of pro­tec­tion? World Cup win­ner Yana Be­lam­oina crashed heav­ily in prac­tice, as did Emily Batty. They both re­port­edly had con­cus­sions, so should XC hel­mets be changed? And should the UCI pre­vent rac­ers start­ing if they’ve had a head in­jury in prac­tice? This is a nor­mal pro­ce­dure in many other sports – so while the pro­gres­sion of the sport is great to see, maybe equip­ment and safety mea­sures need to catch up as well.

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