To clarify, we're talking 'sick' as in 'rad', 'rad' as in 'phat'... but you knew that. Yes, the La Massana course may peak at just 1895m, but today no one was safe from the sickness in the mountains... Once early morning mists from overnight rain burned away, the Catalan sun brought things up to a boil and the riding got real hot, real quick. The push to get lines dialled and commitment levels up to race speed was on, but a greasy film of moisture made the roots and bedrock extra treacherous on a course where perfect brake control is paramount. Well, let's say even more 'paramount' than usual, evidenced by big names still getting separated from their bikes by the time qualies came around.
One fine day on the hill culminated with a very interesting qualifying session that saw Luca Shaw take the number one spot by 2.5 seconds in the elite men, making it a hat-trick of top qualies for 2018. Hart rode to 2nd, just 0.003 ahead of Greenland, with MacDonald and Val Di Sole's turn-up, Thomas Estaque, close behind. Did Pierron go easy? Did last year's champ, Brosnan? Just two of so many questions. Further questions remain also in the junior men's category, as Henry Kerr roared to surprise victory ahead of Thibaut Daprela and Kade Edwards, while usual suspect, Kye A'Hern, almost failed to qualify. The women's categories seem a little less mysterious perhaps, as Vali Holl took 23 seconds out of her peers and Rachel Atherton one of the biggest margins in elite women's qualifying - 12.7 seconds ahead of Tracey Hannah. Still, let's not go forgetting, the real race goes down tomorrow.