Saturday, April 25, 2009

Race#1---Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Tracy Moseley (Great Britain/Trek Bikes) stuck to her winning ways from the previous week by pedaling her Session 88 to well deserved victory in South Africa. She did not have much competition, due to Rachel Atherton being out with an injury, and Sabrina Jonnier riding tentatively after a training ride crash.

The Men's raced panned out as expected, with the usual suspects rounding out the top 5. The big surprise, however, was Mick Hannah (Australia/Mongoose-GT Bikes) qualifying first and backing it up with solid 2nd place finish in the finals. The flat, pedal focused course suited his strengths and he showed his peers that he deserves to be back after a year hiatus. Greg Minnaar (South Africa/Santa Cruz Bikes) surprised nobody by winning easily on his home turf. He stepped up under the pressure and delivered the victory to adoring fans from his nearby hometown.

Sam Hill (Australia/Specialized-Monster) had a surprisingly good run despite all the pedaling required, and the low expectations for his performance. He looks a lot skinnier than usual, which may be due to some new training program put together by his new sponsor. Either that or he working on his fitness in advance of the upcoming, pedal focused Worlds in his home country.

The disappointment of the day had to go to Chris Kovarik (Australia/Intense-Chain Reaction) who qualified third, after winning on the same course the week before, then crashing in the finals in a rocky section near the top of the course. I am pulling for Chris to get it back together as he always been one of my favorite riders after watching his 2nd place ride at the Squaw Valley, CA World Cup in the summer of 1999 (1st went to Nico V. of France).

Other surprisingly slow results went to Sam Blenkinsop (NZ/Yeti Fox Racing) 28th, and the entire MS Evil Racing Team (Steve Smith 20th, Filip Polc 37th, and Matti Lehikoinen 81st). Maybe they spent too much time in the team trailer the night before?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Season Begins

Elite DH racers are gathered in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa for the upcoming UCI World Cup race on Easter weekend. Several of the racers just participated in a national race held at the same venue as a warm up for big day. Chris Kovarik (Intense Cycles) won the men's race, while Tracy Moseley (Trek) won the women's race. Andrew Neethling (Trek) came in 2nd, riding the same Session 88 bike as Tracy, and sporting a Leatt neck brace. It will be interesting to see how many riders start riding with them as they gain more acceptance.