Welcome to the all you can eat buffet of ruts and cuts that is Lousa. We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about the track conditions worsening and, to be frank, we've had the best case scenario given its natural characteristics. Round 3 of the short season was as exciting as it gets with fair weather conditions. The morning fog and humidity has consistently kept the ground greasy well into the afternoon hours. Both junior categories raced into the clouds while the Elites, even with what seemed like an endless sunset, had to navigate an unusual mix of dusty and slippery corners. Knowing when to push was the key to a good result. Oh, and maybe having some level of fitness for the gruelling pedal connecting the lower woods to the motorway jumps, too.
Waking up tomorrow and heading into the fourth and final round, the tables have turned on their heads. The junior categories are won and lost by whoever makes the least amount of mistakes, while the elites are racing at the absolute limit of what’s currently possible on a bike. Myriam Nicole has made a statement of power since setting foot in Portugal, snatching the first win for Commencal Muc-Off. She is the one to beat, hands down. It’s not so cut and dry with the men, however. While many were astonished to see the G.O.A.T. claim his unparalleled 22nd career victory, the win seemed to be a weight lifted off his shoulders. Still, Sunday is anyone's race. We’re seeing the usual suspects fall further back while names like Reveli, Williamson, and Edmondson, to name a few, are etching their names closer to the top spots. The weather is supposed to stay fair throughout the remainder of the race weekend so expect much the same recipe come Sunday.