Palmer at home in Squaw Valley World Cup
If they competed with boards under their feet instead of pedals, there is no doubt that Shaun Palmer would win.
However, Palmer doesn’t always win in downhill mountain biking and before June 26, the 30-year resident of Lake Tahoe’s West Shore hadn’t won a single World Cup downhill. But his narrow win over World Cup leader Steve Peat of Great Britain at Big Bear Lake make him one of the favorites as he prepares to race in front of friends and family in the Diesel/UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill on Sunday at Squaw Valley.
“I’m just happy to have my first World Cup win. I’ve had some pressure in the past, plus I wasn’t always mentally in it, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with this win,” said Palmer, who grew up in South Lake Tahoe.
The colorful Mountain Dew/Specialized Bikes rider unveiled a new sparkling gold suit and crown made by his mother, Jana, on the podium afterward.
Palmer’s chief competition during Sunday’s downhill, which begins with a semifinal round at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, will be his friend, Peat, who hasn’t finished worse than third this season; and nemesis Nicolas Vouillox of France, who is coming off an uncharacteristic fall and sixth-place finish at Big Bear Lake.
“He’s coming off a big, big win, his confidence level is high and he’s at home. I would say a definite podium, whether that’s one, two or three we’ll wait and see,” said Dave Clock of Clock’s Cyclery in South Lake Tahoe who is performing the wrenching on Palmer’s bikes for this race. “He’s putting off a couple of things so he can focus on racing the last couple of weeks.”
It’s uncertain if Palmer will race in Saturday’s single-elimination dual after missing the dual event at Big Bear Lake.
Just as intriguing is the women’s competition, which features the ongoing rivalry between Foes/Azonic rider Missy Giove of Durango, Colo., and France’s Anne-Caroline Chausson, who is sponsored by Giove’s former team Volvo-Cannondale.
“My bike is working really good and my support is unprecedented. I’m just really happy,” said Giove, who picked up her first win of the season June 26 at Big Bear Lake.
Still, Giove trails the French racer by 225 points in the overall standings coming into Squaw Valley.
The finals are scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Sunday, with an awards ceremony to follow at 4:15 p.m.
The action-packed weekend includes downhill training for pros from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dual course training from 5-6 p.m. Friday; semi-pro and expert downhill racing from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Friday; dual qualifying at 2 p.m. Saturday; World Cup dual finals at 4:15 p.m. Saturday; beginning knobular cross country race at 9 a.m. Saturday; sport and beginner downhill racing at 10 a.m. Saturday; sport knobular cross country race at 1 p.m. Saturday; pro and expert knobular cross country race at 5:30 p.m. Saturday; and downhill training from 7:30-9 a.m. Sunday, which precedes the 9:30-noon semifinals and 1-4 p.m. finals.
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