You can’t always believe what you read on the Internet. In the lead-up to the race this weekend in Lošinj, Croatia there was rampant speculation from all kinds of commentators on the track being too short, too flat, too rocky, too different. With a high speed top section followed by an intensely rocky and technical section where even the slightest error costs too much speed to be able to make back again, followed by an urban finish, this was definitely something different. Many riders caught out by the track, which turned out to have some intensely close racing owing to the track’s length and also its technicality.
Amongst the Aussie Men, Dean Lucas started off with the best time in Timed Training, coming 4th behind a rejuvenated Brook Macdonald in 1st and Sam Blenkinsop in 2nd. The track seemed to suit the Aussies and NZ, short, technical and requiring plenty of power, just like a lot of our tracks back home. Troy Brosnan took 7th in timed training, Jack Moir, 8th, also looking in with a chance with Connor Fearon in 13th.
There were some high-profile crashes in the leadup to Finals – Loic Bruni the reigining World Champ, coming unstuck in a corner near the top of the course, dislocating his elbow ruling him out before timed training. Mick Hannah crashing and injuring a finger, ruling him out also.
Kye A’Hern, racing in his first world cup after his signing to Canyon Factory Racing, put down great times in training, qualification and racing, finishing up with a 3rd place result in Junior Men. A great start to the season for the Queanbeyan pinner!
The Elite Female category was hotly contested, due to UCI rule changes there were a smaller number of qualification spots. Rachel Atherton was back, seemingly over her injury issues of 2017, but the time away in 2017 has allowed Myriam Nicole to dominate along with the extra opportunity given to Tahnee Seagrave, Tracey Hannah and the other women. Cecile Ravanel, EWS champ, was racing in her 2nd World Cup race, the rocky technical track would probably seem right at home for an EWS racer.
Unfortunately for Australia’s Tracey Hannah, she slid out in a right-hand corner around half-way down the course, pushing her back to 14th place.
Elite Women’s results:
5. Cecile Ravanel 2:48.416
4. Marine Cabirou 2:44.484
3. Tahnee Seagrave 2:45.935
2. Rachel Atherton 2:44.265
1. Myriam Nicole 2:40.706
With a track such as this, amongst practice and timed training it was clear that times would be very close indeed, with fractions of seconds separating the riders. But Brook Macdonald put seconds into the field in his qualification and timed training runs and would be the one to beat in finals. Owing to rule changes at the UCI, Brook would not come down the hill last though, those honours given to Aaron Gwin.
As racing rolled on, the famous rocks were getting dustier and slippery with rubber from competitor’s tyres, making things dicey in some parts especially some of the corners in the upper sections and the Pinball section, a long rock-lined alley rock garden section.
5. Dakotah Norton 2:21.821
4. Sam Blenkinsop 2:21.107
3. Dean Lucas 2:20.328
2. Luca Shaw 2:19.991
1. Aaron Gwin 2:19.193
Next up on the circuit is Fort William at the start of June!
Full results here:
Replay the action on Redbull TV:
Photos: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull & Yasmeen Green