After a deluge of rain washed out the end of practice on Thursday riders knew they were going to be in for a wild ride when the track opened for practice for this, the second day. Most awoke hoping to see sunshine, but much to their disappointment the top of the mountain was again shrouded in cloud cover and a steady light rain began to fall as the junior riders took to the track at 8:00 AM. By 9:00 AM that steady light rain had changed to a steady heavy rain, and once again a river began to run down the length of the track... Just in time for the first official timed runs of the week.
The schedule at World Champs is a bit of an odd one with no seeding runs for elites, and their final running order predetermined by their overall UCI ranking (not to be confused with World Cup standing). Juniors, on the other hand, do get a seeding run to determine their final running order, and that run was made this morning before elite practice. To say they came down in the worst conditions we have seen yet would be an understatement. With standing water in every turn, slick mud making up the primary riding surface, fog in the woods, and on and off light to heavy rain, the struggle was very, very real.
When all was said and done it was Marine Cabirou and Laurie Greenland taking top honors by big margins in the women's and men's categories respectively.
Once the junior seeding closed we would see separate practice sessions for the women and then the men for the remainder of the afternoon. While the ladies started out with rain and fog, the weather would finally begin to let up for the first time, allowing the track to drain a bit which helped with rider visibility but began to make the mud sticky and extra slick in the open bits. By the time the men took to the track we were even graced with some sunshine. While all the media and course marshals loved the sun, many of the riders would have preferred the rain to continue. Reason being that once a track gets this wet and saturated the transition stage back to dry takes an extremely long time, and during that time the mud goes from quick shedding to thick heavy and extremely difficult to ride. The rocks are no longer washed clean from the rain and slick mud begins to cling to everything. Add the ever changing weather to the steep and gnarly nature of the Andorra track and what you get is one of the most exciting World Championship races we've had in some time. Whoever comes out of top on Sunday will indeed have earned the right to call themselves the best in the world.
About the PhotographersMatthew Delorme • Age: 40 • Years Shooting: 8 Matthew DeLorme is just one of Pinkbike’s motley crew of World Cup Photographers. He currently lives out of a Ogio bag, and calls the road his home. Delorme works for Trek Bicycle, covering their MTB racing programs. He can usually be found laying in the dirt trackside, cracking jokes and saying things that make little to no sense. He enjoys capturing accessory moments and the journey every bit as much as catching the action shot.
Dave Trumpore • Age: 35 • Years Shooting: 4 Dave spent the bulk of the past 17 years racing professionally before realizing that despite qualifying for the random World Cup final here and there, the next generation was just way too fast and way more talented. Upon hanging up his racing boots in 2010, it would be a few years until Dave picked up a camera and started shooting the odd race here and there as a way to stay in touch with all the friends he had made over the years, and the rest as they say is history. In just a few years time his photos have graced the pages of just about every MTB magazine and major media outlet, while his commercial client list includes a who's who of the cycling industry, and he is lucky enough to shoot regularly with some of the best riders on the planet. Currently at Pinkbike, Dave shoots the Downhill WC and the Enduro World Series as well as contributing to the occasional editorial story. Nathan Hughes • Age: 28 • Years Shooting: 2 Nathan Hughes was snared as mainstay Pinbike media crew for the 2013 World Cup season and has been trapped behind the lens and the keyboard ever since. In between the biggest bike events of the year Nathan can be found on client shoots, making far-off travel stories and trying to catch a moment to spin the pedals himself. A great appreciation of the wilderness, the fear of a normal life and the quest for the perfect picture will have him hooked and looking to raise the bar for years to come.