After a much needed month away from World Cup competition for many racers, the traveling circus is back together once again in Lenzerheide. After weeks of rain in the Alps through most of June it was refreshing to arrive in Switzerland under sunny skies and mild temperatures. After a quick thunderstorm passed through Tuesday night, the forecast for the duration looks just perfect. As for the track, not much has changed from last year other than a few bermed turns right out of the gate and a wooden boardwalk in place of the massive off camber that previously led down to the rock garden. A few clever taping jobs now open some corners up extra wide, and close down others, and that is really all that is different on the surface of things. The biggest change, however, might just be the condition of the dirt that riders will be hammering on all weekend. This year ample rain has packed everything down firm and there seems to be a hardpacked and grippy line down the whole track. It might be a bit one line in spots but perhaps some sneaky inside lines will develop once riders brush the loose rocks off. This is a far cry from the blown out, loose and sketchy conditions racers faced last year so we expect to see times extra tight times this weekend as there really isn't any major challenge that is going to set people apart. In a word the track here is rather basic, but often times that makes for excellent racing and very high speeds, so we'll just have to wait and see how things progress. And who knows, if the sun stays out and the dust starts flying it might just get crazy once again.
No such thing as bad view here in Graubuenden.
How very Alpine...
Tahnee Seagrave's mechanic, Matt, putting the finishing touches to her Transition racing sled.
Token cow and snow-capped peaks Switzerland shot.
Welcome to Lenzerheide, where things go downhill fast.
No bikes allowed... Not today anyway.
The new start comes in at an angle and leaps over a berm into the bike park track for a series of berms instead of the old mix of off camber rocks and grass.
Tahnee Seagrave about to "drop in".
All hail the beautiful mountain scenery of Switzerland.
Tahnee Seagrave and her posse examine the brutal top rock garden, which remains much the same as last year, if not a little more savage and eroded.
Finn Iles surveys the zig-zagging upper berms.
Gone is the off-camber rocks and open piste. In its place are smooth berms. Bike park for days.
Another World Cup track falls prey to Bikeparkification. Things are looking rather smooth compared to last year.
With a backdrop like this it would be nice if the track looked equally rugged.
The bridge jump that offers the best chance of a tasty whip.
Two thirds of Atherton racing and a Matt Delorme cross the upper table-top bridge huck.
A couple of dense root nests spice up the hardpack in a few places, but it would have been nice to see a couple more and maybe some loam...
Loic is here in Lenzerheide walking the track and supporting his teammates. He is nearly healed and will back on it come MSA.
Get your huck to flat on.
Last minute weed whacking. Not sure why this area needs it, but what the hell.
Hopefully the weed whacking guys make it to this portion of the track. There is a gnarly big stump hiding in the tall grass just to the left.
Rachel leaps off of Troy's trunk (Brosnan's majestic stump huck from last season). This year it looks easier to ride and might see a lot more action.
The only sign of the super heavy rain from yesterday remains in the middle woods, but chances are it will be all clear by the morning.
Gwin and Alonso wade through the long grass before the maintenance crew finishes the tidy-up.
The last big sender of the course below the flowers.
You can't beat Lenzer lake life on a hot summer's day.
The huge step down of last season's track has been scaled back slightly to make it safer.
Last year's Lenzer champ walking the final bridge jump into the finish area.
Gee Atherton getting the set-up right with mechanic Polish Pete.
Gwin's new orange Forties await the gold service alongside those of MacDonald, Dale and Bryceland.
The man, the myth, the legend supervising his bike build.
Freshly shaped berms await riders right out of the gate.
Some ultra-wide taping should help to mix things up in the top turns, but it's hard to imagine the inside lines going to plan without some ruts.
Under the bridge and into the same miniature rock garden jump from last time round.
Markus Pekoll chillaxes on the top of the woodwork of Peaty's plank.
Danny Hart peers off the edge of the plunge, guaranteed to see some gnarly dismounts over the weekend.
The whale-tail step-down and some much appreciated blue skies overhead.
Manon Carpenter scopes out the newly shaped finish step-down.
Dean Lucas had the run of his life to hit the podium here last time around. Still recovering from his severe heel fracture he will race, albeit tentatively.
Gee and Taylor look at line choices in the rock garden.
Rachel switched things up and jumped behind the lens on track walk today.
If anything this track will be quick. Motorway quick.
Where there was loam last year, there is a lovely bed of roots.
This is a nice little tire shredder right in the line. It appears to be part of an old snowboard.
The big ol' triple.
Rachel cleans of some dirt off what will be a slick high-speed ramp. That catch net will have it's hands full on first runs tomorrow.
This high line will be crucial in order to make the ninety degree left-hander that follows with any speed.
Back flips and tail whips?
High-power drills and flip-flops... what could go wrong. Mark Wallace in it for the thrill.
Devinci mechanic Nigel with Mark Wallace's old ride - he will be an all-black steed this week.
Ben Reid playing housewife at the Dirt Propain pit.
Evan Warner putting fresh decals on Troy's fork.
It's a busy day at SRAM. Troy Brosnan's suspension is in for a service.
Ben Arnott going over the finer details on Angel Suarez's bike.
Reg goes over Slugger's bike with a fine tooth comb.
All this will be a bike in no time.
When there are this many milk jugs and cow bells about you can only be in Switzerland.
One thing Lenzerheide surely isn't lacking in is views.