The first round of the World Cup in Maribor provided some classic racing, here are five things we noticed from the sidelines:1. Some teams have plenty of work to do for round 2
2. Mixed wheel sizes made an instant impact
Despite all the off season shenanigans, it was the riders who stayed put that did best at this race. In fact, only two riders in the top ten and five in the top twenty had made off season team changes. Trek's new team fared the best with Charlie Harrison on the podium and Reece Wilson enjoying his best start to a season ever with a 12th.
Whether it is a case of riders getting used to the bikes or more training being needed, you can guarantee the riders who signed new contracts in the winter will want to make more of an impact in a month's time in Fort William.
3. Maribor delivered the goods
With plenty of rumours during the off season about the potential for frankenwheeled bikes, it was always going to be interesting to see how many teams plumped for it and how they would fare come race day.
Danny Hart had previously taken second place at the iXS cup the week before, so we knew they were quick, but with Loic Bruni and Danny Hart taking the top two spots they clearly work well. That's two EWS races and one World Cup for the mixed wheels now, keep an eye out for a few more riders turning up at Fort William with some frakenbikes of their own.
After a nine-year hiatus from the World Cup calendar, Maribor proved why it has always been a rider favourite. The top four men came down within a second of each other and just three seconds separated the top ten, making this the tightest race in Maribor's World Cup history. Yes, Kovarik and Peat may have been split by just 0.01 in 2002 but the rest of the podium was spread over 3.4 seconds.
Even qualifying was packed with drama as it took a number of scalps including Phil Atwill, Wyn Masters, Kade Edwards, Angel Suarez and notably Greg Minnaar. Greg Minnaar is one of the most consistent riders that the sport has ever seen but in Maribor, he would fail to qualify for finals for the first time in 20 years.
It's interesting to take a look at the iXS the week before as it turned out to be a great primer for the World Cup. The top three men and two of the top three women ended up on the podium in the World Cup, will those who elected to skip it be kicking themselves now? We'll have a similar situation in Fort William with a British Natoinal on May 12, so expect a lot of top riders to turn out for some practice.4. The women's field looks super strong this year
5. Another wave of young guns rising
Yes the top three may have been predictable in the women's race but this was one of the tightest races in years. The top ten were spread over just 12.3 seconds and you have to go back to Lenzerheide 2017 for the last women's race that was so tight, and that's on a much less technical track.
Marine Cabirou was on track to go fastest in qualifying before a crash in the final sector and even in the final there were fastest splits for Cabirou and Nina Hoffmann. There's plenty of pace in the women's field and we certainly won't be surprised when they start challenging for higher spots on the podium.
Not long ago, Danny Hart was seen as the wild young talent on the World Cup scene but yesterday he was the oldest rider on the podium at 27. We saw two new faces next to him in the form of Matt Walker and Charlie Harrison with top 20s for Adam Rojcek, Reece Wilson, Laurie Greenland and Amaury Pierron, who were all born 1996 or later.
This isn't unique to the men's field either. Marine Cabirou and Nina Hoffmann both came up through the Junior women's series and are already podium contenders before the age of 25. In the juniors, Thibault Daprela got the fastest qualifying time of anyone and then got a time that would have put him in the top 30 for elites despite racing on a much wetter track on race day. Finally there's Vali Holl who would have finished eighth in elites, again on a much muddier track.