For the second time this year I've joined Francisco Pardal's World Cup strike for two long and exciting weeks in the Alps. This article will briefly report some of the World Cup emotions from the Val di Sole and Lenzerheide races. Riding for BlackJack Factory Racing, Pardal is on a mission this year and so far, his performance has been consistent.
These two rounds always have been delivered good feelings to riders - Val di Sole because it's the most challenging track on the circuit and Lenzerheide because of it's bikepark characteristics presents us a tight race on a crucial moment of the championship.
Do not miss this and see how Francisco Pardal has handled it.
Quick sights from Passo Tonale and Ponte di Lengo just before arriving at the final destination - Val di Sole.
Since I'm on a privateer side of the photographers, I travel by public transportation, so it's always a mission to reach the final destination. This time, it "only" took two days to travel from Portugal to the Italian Alps - one flight, two missed buses, three other buses, one night in Passo di Lengo, one gondola and a few extra miles by foot.
Besides being the roughest track on the circuit, the region and the views from the top are quite nice.
This year, the forecast predicted mixed feelings of hot and dry weather with a few heavy spots of rain here and there. It's difficult to imagine how hard this track is to ride and how degraded was getting over the days, especially when suddenly the thunderstorm followed by heavy rain dropped on the qualifying. It was a nightmare for ones and freaking show for others.
With the rain in the forecast and the track changing every run there was a need to take the most solid lines. Francisco Pardal was super consistent and cautious during the practice sessions, choosing and testing the lines very methodically.
A little blessed by the rain, Francisco Pardal put together two solid runs and took an 8th place on Qualifying and finished in 50th on Finals day.
Home of last year's Mountain Bike World Championships, Lenzerheide is known for its bikepark characteristics mixed with a few technical rooty sections. There were two main changes on the course: first, the famous rock garden was replaced by a more soft grass section; second, in the woods, was created a super steep and sketchy section - I have to say that it was a show to watch.
The rain was part of the menu during the track walk but other than that, the weather played very ok and with the rain from the day before, the grip was sharp during Practice and Qualifying.
Francisco Pardal that took here his best result in World Champs - a 24th place - was familiar with this track and could potentially deliver an effective performance.
Besides another solid campaign, Pardal wasn't on last year's pace and qualified by a nail in 60th place and took the 51st place in the Finals day.
It's time to fly back home, settle everything up and prepare ourselves for the World Champs that will take place in a few days.
Words and Photography: João Fânzeres
, MISSION adventure collective
Special thanks to: Francisco Pardal | BlackJack Factory Racing