Timed training doesn't count. Except at World Champs, where actually it still doesn't, but it's all we get! No qualies, no points and not even a seeding to juggle the starting order... The TT on the penultimate day is the only show of cards we're allowed. So while nothing may have changed and riders inevitably gave differing amounts of effort of whatever reasons, there are still morsels of clue on offer as to who might be about to go the distance and stomp the golden run of their lives.
After an early morning training that began before the sun even breached the mountains, riders took to one severely beaten up, gloopy track that was, perhaps counter-intuitively, in much worse shape than under the heavy downpours of yesterday. This afternoon Rachel Atherton hammered the women's field in this 'non-competition' by a shade off 20 entire seconds and Greg Minnaar, the repeat dark-horse winner that he is, set the fastest time of the day at 4:49, just 0.15 ahead of 'local boy', Thirion. With the course visibly drying before rider's eyes with every turn, we could be looking at a very different animal tomorrow, but of course one no less exciting. World Champs 2015 are here, they are now and set to be off the chain, in quite possibly more ways than one...
|I think it's been one of the funnest weeks of the year so far, mate... all good at the Santa Cruz pit! We did a few runs the first day, then it pissed down so we got drunk haha. Then yesterday we thought it's definitely gonna be wet so we'll have to practice it, so I practiced it just slipping and sliding around with a big smile on my face. It was definitely hard work though... the hardest thing was to stay relaxed, if you could then you'd ride really sweet. This morning; got involved...woke up saw some stars, thought I'd set my phone wrong cos it was pitch black and then did a steady practice and timed run. I don't know if you can read much into the times because everyone's doing all sorts of weird sh*t. I'm buzzing though, feeling dead confident and looking forward to tomorrow. I think the key for me is not to get caught up in it all and try to ride my own race. The length of it could be toughest part; your heart rate's already higher just because of the scenario and by the time it's done I'm sure I'll be hanging! I don't think my fitness is where it was quite last year, but as far as type of terrain goes it's is my kinda thing. If I can save energy at the top and be smooth, commit to my lines down the bottom then I think it could go pretty well, but of course we'll have to wait and see - Josh Bryceland - Santa Cruz Syndicate|
|It's been pretty wild from first practice day till now, the track's changed completely, it's just full of ruts and holes everywhere. I'm feeling it a lot more now, but I don't reckon I've really found my pace yet. Today I was sitting down pedalling the whole top section in the timed run and even waved at a couple of fans, but then got into gear after the bridge and around the big jumps to the bottom I was trying to go pretty fast. I just didn't want to blow my legs up before tomorrow as it's such a physical track. You come out the gate and throw down a 30 second sprint straight away, your lungs are gone, your legs are gone and then you've gotta work your way down the steepest, gnarliest track of the season. It's for sure going to be won down the bottom, but at the same time you can't be wasting any time at the top! I definitely want to get out there tomorrow and go after the gold and get the rainbows, but whatever happens, happens and I'll still come down with a smile on my face... It's only one run and it's gonna be a crazy one - Troy Brosnan - Specialized Racing DH|
|Second is definitely good after my injury to show I have the speed. I made a few mistakes, but on this track in these conditions what can you expect? It's tricky out there, the course is very physical and technical too, luckily today was getting better with some sun. Yesterday was fun, but the ruts everywhere made it very hard. Now I will go down the valley for some physio and massage and will relax. My ankle isn't really great, but with the tape it's okay. This year I'm stronger at the bike park sections than I was here last time around, I have my new bike and I've been training hard so I am pleased to improve my results year after year. We will see what happens tomorrow! - Remi Thirion - Commencal Riding Addiction|
|The track's a tough one at the best of times and conditions this week have been, well, pretty unpleasant. It's looking up now and speeding up a bit though! I had a bit of a nightmare in the TT... I had the bright idea to not do any practice runs this morning because it was so wet, so I set off in my timed session still half asleep and inevitably hit the floor on a stupid turn in the middle. First one of the day's always tough... came down 17th. It's been fun and wild in the wet, but a bit of lottery; tomorrow's gonna be a different game I think. I'm keen for the stripes. I want them. Once race day comes around there's no games to be played it's just a straight forward race, you've just got to crack on. You get the World Champs stripes for a year and it's awesome. All you can try to do is get them again for another, the same as everyone else - Gee Atherton - GT Factory Racing|
|The sun's out now and by the end of the practice the track was really coming along, drying up a ton so by tomorrow I think it's gonna be awesome. I left my practice a little later which was good because everyone was balled up in the queue at the bottom and I was still up on track. It was super gnarly for the TT and I knew it was gonna dry out so I wanted to cruise down and see what a full run felt like as I hadn't done one yet. That felt good, but I rammed my face into a tree trying to stay clipped in and commit to the turn; I got off-balance and it didn't work out! Other than that it was okay, my time was still up there with the crash so if everything goes well tomorrow I should be right in the mix especially with the conditions coming round to suit my style a little more. To win the series is kind of the main goal for me every year so to wrap that up was amazing and now this is really a fun, low pressure race for me to be honest... You either win it or it doesn't matter, next year's another one haha! - Aaron Gwin - Specialized Racing DH|
About the PhotographersNathan 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.
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.