The Fayetteville event marked the second round of the U.S. Cup following the opening events in Southern California earlier this month. With three races over four days, there were plenty of UCI points up for grabs. Woods and other top North American XC racers were intently focused on the opportunity to gain valuable points, which help determine starting positions at the upcoming World Cup races.
Woods, the current U23 men’s national champion in Canada, was at the front of the action all week on his Anthem Advanced Pro 29 race bike. He kicked things off with a strong third-place finish in the C1 ranked Olympic cross-country (XCO) race on Wednesday. Two days later, Woods finished second in the short-track. And in Saturday’s main event, the highest ranked UCI HC race, he again finished second, just behind 2021 world champion Christopher Blevins.
“It feels great to wrap up an amazing racing campaign here in the U.S.,” Woods said. “Coming into this block, I wasn’t sure how my early season fitness would stack up against the other riders, so I came with a fighting attitude. Embrace the pain and hold wheels at all costs. With three races in just four days this week, it gave myself and my mechanic Kevin Smith a great opportunity to experiment with bike setup in a racing environment before we head into the World Cup season next month.”
Tire choice was key for the rough and rocky tracks in Fayetteville, and Carter made a few changes throughout the week.
“After racing the XCO course in the UCI C1 event on Wednesday, I opted for thicker 120tpi casing Maxxis Aspen 2.4 tires for Saturday’s HC race to reduce the risk of puncturing on the super-fast and bumpy downhills,” said Carter, who wore his Rev Pro helmet and Charge Pro shoes. “Kevin also bumped my Fox 34 Step-Cast fork travel up from 110mm to 120mm to give my Anthem Advanced Pro 29 some extra stability.”
In the end, the fitness proved strong, and the gear choices were right on point. Now Woods looks ahead to the big international races with momentum on his side.
“After podiums at both U.S. Cup weeks in California and Arkansas, I’m leaving the U.S. excited and confident not only with where my fitness is at, but with my new equipment feeling dialed. I’ll return home to Quebec for a little bit of rest before flying to Brazil for Pan Am Championships with the Canadian federation, and then onward to Nove Mesto for World Cup racing with the team.”
In other XC action over the weekend, Jens Schuermans won the La Redoute MTB Marathon in Belgium. The current Belgian XCO champion piloted his Anthem Advanced Pro 29 to victory in the 70.5km race in the hilly Wallonia region of Belgium.