Track Walk: Welcome Back - Maribor World Cup DH 2019

Apr 25, 2019
by Dave Trumpore  





After a 9 year break, the World Cup has returned to Maribor, Slovenia to kick off the 2019 season. It's one of those venues that has always been a classic despite only appearing on the calendar sporadically over the years. Always a rider favorite from its debut in the late 1990's to its redesign and shorter length from 2007-2010, it is a track that has just about everything on it. High-speed corners, fresh dirt, rock gardens, steep roots, and of course, all at very high speeds with little to no need for pedaling. For many riders, it's a return to an old favorite, but for the current crop of young guns, it's their first time on a track they've only heard stories about.

Fresh for 2019 are a whole bunch of new(ish) sections in the lower woods, many of which are off camber and covered in loose dirt. What's underneath is yet to be discovered, but surely a fair number of roots will be making their way the surface through the weekend. And with the forecast calling for either a bit of rain or a lot of rain, you can be sure these fresh bits are going to be slippery. With many racers showing up a week early to train and race last weekend's IXS European Cup here, it's good to see the organizers kept some changes in their back pocket. The notorious rock garden has been rerouted to add a few turns and some bigger rocks to the mix. Anyone who thought they had all the lines dialed a week ago are going to have to start all over again in more than a few spots.

Outside the race tape, the first round is equally as exciting as it's the first time we see riders on fresh kit, with new teams, or with drastically different setups. Who is on a 29er, who is running both wheel sizes, and is anyone still keeping it with the old school 27.5 front and rear? What frame size will Aaron Gwin settle on? Can Rachel Atherton win on her signature frame? Who's fit and who still has work to do? These are the burning questions that will be answered over the next few days, so be sure to keep checking back here as the action unfolds.

The quaint banks of the Drava river which runs right through the heart of Maribor.
The quaint banks of the Drava river which runs right through the heart of Maribor.

Plenty of racers enjoyed a relaxed start to proceedings here having been in Maribor for the IXS last weekend.
Plenty of racers enjoyed a relaxed start to proceedings here having been in Maribor for the IXS last weekend.

The narrow streets of Maribor s old town.
The narrow streets of Maribor's old town.

It s not often a World Cup DH takes place literally on the doorstep of a major city. Expect the crowds on the weekend to be some of the biggest on the circuit.
It's not often a World Cup DH takes place literally on the doorstep of a major city. Expect the crowds on the weekend to be some of the biggest on the circuit.

The first round id a great time to catch up with friends and keep things casual before the stress of the season starts to creep in.
The first round is a great time to catch up with friends and keep things casual before the stress of the season starts to creep in.

The A-team are here with fresh rigs and a point to prove.
The A-team are here with fresh rigs and a point to prove.

Rising star Finn Iles will be playing himself for the first round and beyond.
Rising star, Finn Iles, will be playing himself for the first round and beyond.

Season kick-off means the pits awash with new colors and if not fresh graphics at least.
Season kick-off means the pits are awash with new colors and if not, fresh graphics at least.

The French are a force to be reckoned with. Any one of these three could win on Sunday.
The French are a force to be reckoned with. Any one of these three could win on Sunday.

It s a very very long 30 minute walk from the top of the gondola to the start gate. Imagine the potential if they were to actually start from the top like they did back in the last 1990 s
It's a very, very long 30-minute walk from the top of the gondola to the start gate. Imagine the potential if they were to actually start from the top like they did back in the last 1990's

This is where round one of the 2019 World Cup Downhill series will start. Bring it.
This is where round one of the 2019 World Cup Downhill series will start. Bring it.

Tracey Hannah drops in
Tracey Hannah drops in

Brendan Fairclough doing a bit of social media repayment in advance for one-armed Ben Deakin this week.
Brendan Fairclough doing a bit of social media repayment in advance for one-armed Ben Deakin this week.

Blenki and the Norcos up top.
Blenki and the Norcos up top.

Intense Factory racing hit turn 1.
Intense Factory racing hit turn 1.

Lots of turns through the woods all with plenty of roots to keep things interesting.
Lots of turns through the woods, all with plenty of roots to keep things interesting.

After a season plagued by injury in 2018 Dakotah Norton is happy to be healthy and nearing full strength once again.
After a season plagued by injury in 2018, Dakotah Norton is happy to be healthy and nearing full strength once again.

Neko Mulally and Dakotah Norton having a look t a big pile of roots.
Neko Mulally and Dakotah Norton having a look at a big pile of roots.

The defending champ here in Maribor needs no intros.
The defending champ here in Maribor needs no intros.

Gnarly roots aplenty deep in the forest.
Gnarly roots aplenty deep in the forest.

The top part of the track is the oldest and with much of the soft dirt washed away over the years it is now hard pack and roots most of the way.
The top part of the track is the oldest, and with much of the soft dirt washed away over the years it is now hard pack and roots most of the way.

Reece Wilson how his race run at last weekend s ISX Cup went a bit wrong through this section.
Reece Wilson's race run at last weekend's IXS Cup went a bit wrong through this section.

The rock garden was one of the busiest sections on the track.
The rock garden was one of the busiest sections on the track.

Aaron Gwin and his new teammate Jack Moir in the rock garden.
Aaron Gwin and his new teammate Jack Moir in the rock garden.

A minefield of roots and rocks ready to wreck rims and tires.
A minefield of roots and rocks ready to wreck rims and tires.

Red means danger.
Red means danger.

The steep exit of the rock garden threads through the trees and out onto a fire road.
The steep exit of the rock garden threads through the trees and out onto a fire road.

Luca Shaw studying the long rock garden. He ll be looking to carry on his form from last season and get on that top step.
Luca Shaw studying the long rock garden. He'll be looking to carry on his form from last season and get on that top step.

Yes that is the track. So fresh in spots that it is covered in loam and leaves.
Yes, that is the track. So fresh in spots that it is covered in loam and leaves.

This jump was left pout of the IXS Cup but it is in for the World Cup. It s quite big and the speed coming in is hard to carry so not everyone is feeling too confident here just yet.
This jump was left out of the IXS Cup but it is in for the World Cup. It's quite big and the speed coming in is hard to carry, so not everyone is feeling too confident here just yet.

The danger is extreme as ever here on an old school beauty in Slovenia.
The danger is extreme as ever here on an old school beauty in Slovenia.

Never go this way.
Never go this way.

Big compressions and plenty of roots make sure that even the straight sections of track are anything but easy. At race speed this will be one big rhythm section or pump track.
Big compressions and plenty of roots make sure that even the straight sections of track are anything but easy. At race speed, this will be one big rhythm section or pump track.

It s been raining here on and off and if you dig just under the dry surface you will see things are still bit slick underneath.
It's been raining here on and off and if you dig just under the dry surface you will see things are still bit slick underneath.

Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar trying to make sense of it all.
Steve Peat and Greg Minnaar trying to make sense of it all.

Some fresh off-cambers make up the bottom woods and we expect to see a lot of roots showing up here throughout practice.
Some fresh off-cambers make up the bottom woods, and we expect to see a lot of roots showing up here throughout practice.

WynTV on course.
WynTV on course.

Bernard Kerr plots his line through the beach trees.
Bernard Kerr plots his line through the trees.

There s a few old school features out in the woods like this bomb-hole to berm.
There are a few old-school features out in the woods like this bomb-hole to berm.

There s certainly no shortage of roots in Maribor.
There's certainly no shortage of roots in Maribor.

MS Mondraker survey the final jump into the finish area.
MS Mondraker survey the final jump into the finish area.

Beautiful summer weather was still there to greet the riders finishing trackwalk. Unfortunately it s not likely to be the same story come Sunday.
Beautiful summer weather was still there to greet the riders finishing track walk. Unfortunately, it's not likely to be the same story come Sunday.

Loic Bruni seems to be in a good place coming into the season. A happy Loic is a dangerous Loic.
Loic Bruni seems to be in a good place coming into the season. A happy Loic is a dangerous Loic.

Gwin wins the season opener every single year. Except that one fluke where he didn t...
Gwin wins the season opener every single year. Except for that one fluke where he didn't...

Marshy gets stuck into a wheel build as the sun begins to sink in the sky.
Marshy gets stuck into a wheel build as the sun begins to sink in the sky.

Final prep before the first WC training session of the season.
Final prep before the first WC training session of the season.

All the forks in for service before the first day of training.
All the forks in for service before the first day of training.

Out with the old and in with the new
Out with the old and in with the new.

A place for everything and everything in it s foamy place. John Hall s immaculate tool box.
A place for everything and everything in its foamy place. John Hall's immaculate toolbox.

We hear there is rain coming. Best to plan ahead.
We hear there is rain coming. Best to plan ahead.

Empty seats waiting for the mayhem to arrive on Sunday.
Empty seats waiting for the mayhem to arrive on Sunday.



53 Comments

  • + 34
 The bulldogs massive stumps making an appearance. He better keep moving otherwise those things are going to lay down roots and he's gonna be a permanent fixture on course.
  • + 1
 #neverskiplegday
  • + 15
 Black shorts, sponsor T, bike socks, vans (or similar). The world cup track walk uniform (other than Minnaar who is throwing it back with the khaki cargo shorts). WC is back baby!
  • + 6
 5.10 approach shoes or Nikes.
  • + 15
 Did everyone forget to bring their umbrellas on the track walk or are they out of fashion this year?
  • + 18
 Rain only happens on race day, remember.
  • + 6
 Loris had 2
  • + 1
 Looks more like Brook brought his Blackwater bodyguard squad.
  • + 13
 John Hall's toolbox gives me extreme toolbox envy.
  • + 10
 Better than Xmas!
  • + 5
 Not better than Whistmas though.
  • + 6
 That pic of Finn in the Spec pits... Can't unsee that one.
  • + 3
 I won a Dh race on. Rocky Mountain Slayer one time, it’s too bad RM doesn’t have a factory team
  • + 3
 Dude, you're sick!
  • + 2
 Was that at band camp?
  • + 1
 Especially after Remi just won 4th at ProGRT in Port Angeles.
  • + 3
 @Patsplit: 1st, no one wins 4th. 2nd Remi was on the Maiden.
  • + 1
 "Is anyone still keeping it with the old school 27.5?" Whoa, I just switched from 26 to 27.5 just couple of years ago, and now it's old school? Maybe the next thing in two years later is 32"
  • + 4
 CAN’T
FLIPPING
WAIT!!!!!!!
  • + 3
 Dayum... that fresh off-camber though.
  • + 2
 "Imagine the potential if they were to actually start from the top" > then why didn't they do it ?
  • + 2
 I'm confused by that statement. So it's a 30 minute walk from the top down to the start or what?
  • + 3
 that picture of Finn Iles is absolutely nightmarish
  • + 1
 What's up with the lack of photos of the female racers? Just Hannah and Camille? so much bro
  • + 3
 Head over to Vital, pics of lots of the female racers during track walk, and some audio too.
  • + 2
 Tracy Hannah is enough for me...

Gal got some forearms on her!!! Smile
  • + 2
 Look at all those 49's in that rack.
  • + 2
 Those discarded fork oil sponges have got loads of life left in them.
  • + 2
 Out with the old in with the new? Out with the new.....
  • + 1
 Why french people do their eyelashes? to reduce drag counts? aerodynamics? can't figure it out really!
  • + 2
 Aaron Gwin is not impressed with said rock garden...
  • + 2
 I skipped leg day.. said no Bulldog ever..!!

P"
  • + 1
 Wyn holding a banana but looking so serious. Classic.
  • + 2
 One arm is a knob
  • + 1
 Is someone living under that start ramp?
  • + 1
 One could not simply see anything on those full-sized HD images.
  • + 1
 whatcha talking about on IG gwin?
  • + 1
 do we all need to service our forks before every ride?
  • + 2
 You don't, they do though.
  • + 1
 Will there be Claudio track previews this year?
  • + 2
 redbull has said no for him to never do them again
  • + 2
 so that's a yes?
  • + 0
 @Sethimus: its a no and claudio doesnt even want to do them again
  • + 1
 Is it just me or does mondraker/saracen copy eachothers graphics?
  • + 1
 Any roots on the track?
  • + 1
 ICATE
  • + 1
 let's go syndicate!!!!
  • + 1
 Wyntv....where are you?
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