It's race time! 242 days after Martin Maes crossed the line as victor in La Bresse, we're going to be back between the tapes. Maribor returns to the circuit for the first time in nine years for the first round.
We're on the same track again this year as then with a few minor changes and some off-season buffing put in. More than 300 racers have already rattled their way down in the iXS meaning it's well ridden in and ready for the weekend ahead. If you look at the headcam footage there's a lot of crafty lines that need to be taken on this track that's traditionally taped wide and open. It's riders with a high downhill IQ who will do well.
Although nine years encompasses a third of the history of World Cup downhill, there are a lot of racers still going fast who were here in 2010. So will one of the returning racers use their experience to take the win or will one of the young guns from 2018 continue to upset the old guard and take the top step? Let's get into some predictions:Men1st.
Gwin is impossible to bet against because he's got such a great record of first-round wins. He's got a massive point to prove with this new program as well with the very public break up with YT, we think he'll be riding with more motivation than ever before being the team owner.2nd.
Troy Brosnan is ready for a good result this weekend and can have a sniff for the win. Videos from Maribor looked like he was just cruising and yet he was still within striking distance of the winning time.3rd.
Dakotah Norton showed good form at Sea Otter. He's fit, he's lean and he backed it up with a solid result at the iXS Cup in Maribor. He also had terrific early season form last year in Croatia.Podium potential
Getting to the top is one thing but staying at the top is harder and we're wondering whether Amaury Pierron
will be able to come back with such dominance. Last year, he got to build that momentum under the radar but now everybody's expecting him to win. So, is the pressure going to get to him?Matt Walker
was faster than Danny at the first race of the year and it looks like he's coming into his own. He's matured physically as well and he looks like an elite male athlete now.Thomas Estaque
is one to watch. He did really well at Vallnord, especially through those bottom turns. Maribor isn't as steep but it has a lot of corners where fractions of a second can be lost or gained and his cornering is next level.
Southern hemisphere riders typically do well at the opening rounds of the World Cup, for example Dean Lucas
got third at the opening round last year. He had a concussion, he's now moved to Fox, he didn't have the best off-season results but people who winter in the warmer climates typically do well in the first two rounds.Women1st.
On the women's side of things, Rachel hasn't really shown her cards on the new bike yet. Gee and Mille Johnset's results from the weekend may hint that the bike isn't where it needs to be but but we still think Rachel has enough in the bag to take the win.2nd.
Tahnee could possibly beat Rachel but so far she hasn't shown the form to do it. We expect her to be closer than she was at the British National though after spending some time getting her set up dialled.3rd.
Despite some great off-season results, we think Tracey will come third.Podium potential
Monika Hrastnik will be in fourth, using her local knowledge and support from the home crowd to get her over the line. Fifth is likely to fall between Marine Cabirou and Emilie Siegenthaler.
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