Sunday, June 28, 2009
Unfortunately I slept through this one, and only got to see the men's and women's podium presentation. There was no surprises with the ladies (all French and one Japanese rider), but when the men walked out, there was a huge surprise with the French rider Fabian Barel. After hurting his knee during the first race in South Africa, he decided to strengthen the knee (as opposed to surgery) in preparation for the second half of the season. That decision turned out to be a good one, as he came back fresh and managed to squeek out a close victory over Sam Hill (< 1 second). Sam was gracious on the podium and was the only rider to take off his hat during the French national anthem.
The MS Evil Team rode strongly with a 7th place (Steve Smith), 8th place (Matti Lehikoinen), and 22nd place (Filip Polc). They really shine on the rough courses like Maribor and Ft William. It will be a long break until the next race in Canada, so hopefully the riders are resting up with the last few races of the summer.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Riders were blessed with clear, warm conditions thanks climate change. Normally this course is soaking wet, wicked cold, and hella slippery. I managed to get up and watch the last 40 riders live on Freecaster, and despite some awkward (but funny) interactions between Rob Warner and the Dutch 4x star Anika Beerten, the live telecast was a little dull. It will be tough to beat the top-to-bottom coverage from the 2nd race in La Bresse for excitement and race coverage.
Mick Hannah (Australia, GT-Mongoose) bikes showed that he is the real deal, and continued his consistent top-5 placing in the rankings. The MS-Evil team did really well, with Steve Smith holding the hot seat briefly, and ending the day in the top 1o for the race and top 10 of the UCI world cup rankings. Sam Hill (Australia, Specialized) had the most impressive jersey, and just barely lost due to the incredible pedalling effort put out by the winner, Greg Minnar (South Africa, Santa Cruz Bikes). Top Americans were Aaron Gwin (Yeti) and Duncan Riffle (Duncan Riffle Racing).