The Lenzerheide World Cup was a rider favourite last year, but a lot of people were hoping the organisers were going to make the track a bit more technical by using more of the trees and less of the bike park style berms under the gondola. The weather forecast was awesome for the week and the lads were feeling good so everyone was excited. Thing became even more elevated when we realised Will had just made the group A cut and was going to be in the same practice as Jack and George so the lads could ride together - a great start to the weekend!
Photo: Luisa Freudenberg
The track hadn’t been changed except for the start, where three more berms had been added in to replace the original off-camber start. Everything else was the same, which the lads had mixed feelings about. On the plus side, it meant they could get straight back into things and pick up the speed quickly without having to learn new lines. However the track was still missing the added technical elements that using more of the woods would bring, so times were going to be very tight come racing. Here is the team track walk video filmed by Film Smith Media:
Will was really excited for the weekend knowing that he would now be in the same practice session as the lads so he could really work on getting his speed up ready for qualifying. His intent was evident from the start of the practice session. He glued himself to the back of Jack and George for the first few runs and by his 4th run, Jack got go pro footage of Will following George, showing that Jack wasn’t able to close the gap on them. He was carrying really good speed and feeling confident. Here’s a banger of his first day of practice by TJ of Film Smith Media:
On qualifying day morning Will struggled to relax and feel comfortable on the track like he had the day before. The stress of qualifying does build up on him, and he has to battle all day to try and stay relaxed and just focus on riding how he’s practiced. The lads reminded him how well he’d been riding the day before and to focus on that and keep pushing as hard as he could during practice to build more speed. By the end of practice, he was feeling pretty good and ready to give it his best shot.
We all waited nervously at the bottom for Will’s qualifying run. Jack thought Will had the speed on the track to make the top 80 and finals after watching him in practice but was worried he’d work himself up and not ride how he was capable of. The rider in front of Will had a much slower run, so he made up a good 15 seconds on him when he and his Nicolai blasted into view! Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and he qualified 2.8 seconds off the top 80 so would miss out on racing finals. He said he’d ridden well and stayed as relaxed as possible, but just made too many mistakes on his way down which cost him a place in finals. Everyone was gutted. Will is gaining great experience at the highest level and soon he will start to feel more comfortable under the pressure and start putting down the runs he’s capable of!
George started the first practice session strong on Thursday morning and was carrying good speed. He then went off the boil half way through the day and struggled to feel fast and gain any extra speed. He wasn’t happy which isn’t like George. He did two timed practice runs at the end of the day and on the second run he improved by 3 seconds to do a 3.21 so was happier at the end of the day and his confidence lifted.
On qualifying day George was feeling good in the morning and put some solid runs down. He’s always super smooth and usually lifts his game for his timed runs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his afternoon, and in his qualifying run he actually went a second slower than his timed practice run the day before and did a 3.22. As we watched the qualifying session, it became more and more nerve racking! George moved closer and closer to 80th position as more and more riders came down. By the time there were 20 riders left on the hill he was sat in 77th position and it was looking like he was going to get pushed out. Thankfully his time held on and he qualified in 80th place and would be racing! Here is another edit by Film Smith Media, this time of George’s first two days:
George wasn’t happy and really wanted to raise his game in finals and get a top 40 result in his race run! He used Jack in the morning practice session to try and get an idea of where he could pick up some time. He also swapped his Schwalbe Magic Mary dry tyres out for the Schwalbe Dirty Dans that he'd cut down. Jack had been using these all weekend as they hook up really well in the dusty conditions. He was ready to go come racing and hoping to get that top 40 result!
He had a smooth run and went 4 seconds faster to do a 3.18 which he was much happier with. Unfortunately, racing was so close and everyone was pushing so hard he finished 56th so missed out on the top 40 he was after. However he has maintained a really good overall position in 51st with two rounds left, so we’re hoping he can have a really strong finish to the season. Well done George!
Jack started his weekend how he’d finished at the BDS at Moelfre two weeks before. He was very aggressive in practice from the outset and searched for more and more speed as the first day went on. The team was lucky enough to have Ben Harrison, ex-Trek World Racing mechanic, and owner of Mango Bikes, with them on the wrenches for the weekend. Jack and Ben are long time friends and it was great for Jack to have him in his corner. As the day went on they worked on getting Jack’s Nicolai Geometron DH setup perfectly for the conditions and track. His Mojo supplied and tuned Fox suspension was adjusted for the fast loose conditions and the guys decided to go for the Schwalbe Dirty Dan cut down to maximize grip. His Hope V4 Tech 3 brakes were made super sharp so he could brake as late as possible. Everything was considered and setup. At the end of the first Jack was feeling great, and was 17th in timed practice with a time of 3.17. He’d pushed hard but knew he had more to give for qualifying and was aiming to take a couple of seconds off that time. Here is a Film Smith Media banger of Jack’s first day on the hill:
Jack said qualifying day morning was a tough one. He damaged a rim on his first run smashing a rock pretty hard, so had to roll down half of the track with air only in his Procore tube and nothing in the actual tyre. The rim was salvageable and on his second run he felt great and said he was feeling ready to go up for qualifying. On his third run, he hit the rim again, this time destroying it and once again lost all the air out of his tyre because of the large ding. However because the Procore tube stayed up and he knew the rim wasn’t going to be used again, he was able to push on a bit and still get something out of the rest of the run. The Schwalbe Procore system really has been amazing for the guys this year we’ve been so impressed and would recommend it to anyone! It helps to protect rims, you can run lower pressure for more grip and in situations like this, you can still ride out as the tube acts like you have about 10 PSI in the tyre!
Jack had a really good qualifying run. He pushed hard as planned, and just picked a couple of spots to be careful where he thought there was a chance of crashing if he pushed too hard. He crossed the line with a 3.15 and went into 16th place. He was really pleased with that and also scored 9 points towards his overall. His plan was to walk the track that night to get his lines firmly imprinted in his mind, then smash out 3 more practice runs in the morning and try to lift the pace even more. He desperately wanted his first top 20 finals result!
Ben worked solidly all evening after qualifying so that Jack’s bike would be perfect for race day. What a dude! After 3 practice runs in the morning, Jack was feeling ready to step it up and chase the top 20 result! His top section felt great in his run and he was riding really aggressively! He had a career best at the top section and was 7th overall at the top split! The run was off to a great start. Unfortunately, he made two small errors in the next section and lost some time, and with the racing being so tight, it was time he couldn’t afford to lose... His bottom section was better and he crossed the line with a 3.13 over two seconds quicker than his qualifying result. He’d been aiming for a 3.12 and knew it was going to be very close as to whether or not he’d achieve his first top 20.
Finals played out and Danny Hart took his first world cup win with a 3.05 just over 7 seconds ahead of Jack. Big congrats to Danny! Jack finished in a joint career best 22nd place only 0.6 off a top 20 result he was after, the same position he finished last time Ben was his mechanic for the weekend! Overall he was very happy and really feels he knows how to make the leap into the top 20 moving forward! Roll on Mont Saint Anne!!
Photo: Film Smith Media
What a weekend for the team, and as ever a huge thank you to all of our amazing sponsors!! It wouldn’t be possible with you!
Nicolai, Mojo Suspension, ONeal, Schwalbe, Pacenti Cycle Design, Clif Bar, Hope Technology, MRP, Works Components, Dirt Factory, Stonewood Construction, East Coast Air Brush, DNA Sports Performance, Rock Guardz, Mango Bikes, Mark Davies, Adey Bennett