Riders hit full 'Bor in Slovenia on Sunday and it was a welcome return for the legendary track. Tahnee Seagrave and Loic Bruni ran out as the winners but how did they do it? It's time to get into the numbers to find out where time was won or lost:The Track
Thankfully Maribor had barely changed at all in its absence. A stark contrast of open pistes and deep woods made for an engaging watch. There were plenty of places to lose or gain time and it kept both Eliot Jackson
and Ben Cathro
busy on site explaining the various line choices on offer. It was a race that required consistency with neither race victor winning the majority of sectors but instead keeping a clean pair of heels on a smooth run.
The track packs down into roughly five sectors of around 30 seconds. Sector 1 covers the top sweeping turns on the grass and the first dive into the woods. Sector 2 covers some decent sized gaps in the woods and yet more clay turns in the open. From Sector 3 onwards it's in the woods all the way to finish straight. The middle sector turned out to be one of the most crucial with the rock garden, Sam Hill's surprisingly tricky right hander off the fireroad and the huge gap jump. Sector 4 started with the fresh cut section, which saw developing lines throughout the weekend, then fed into a series of corners with plenty of camber and options. The final section was the most bike parky. Keeping the rhythm here and flying round the hard packed corners was key to going fast.Men
The men's race was super tight with less than a second splitting the top four. Mixed wheel sizes didn't look like they were slowing anyone down, with Bruni and Hart going 1 and 2, it will be interesting to see how much the other teams will take note of this for the rest of the year.
Each sector was won by a different racer and all but one of the sector winners went on to take a spot on the podium, with Harrison and Walker doing it for the first time. Only Mr Consistent himself Troy Brosnan ended up in the top five at the bottom of the hill despite not being fastest through any of the five designated sectors. Let's take a look at each one in detail to see how the race was won:
Sector 1 was the shortest and the tightest of the race with the entire top 20 within a second. Danny Hart took it by a gnat's whisker with a lead of just 0.006 over Loic Bruni.
The top three from the race start as the top three here and are all within a tenth of each other with loads still to play for. Gwin is also in contention but this will be his strongest split of the day as he fades through the race. Finn Iles also has a super strong start, backing up his second place qualifying We expected him to be fastest from what we saw on the live feed but the clock tells otherwise.
Charlie Harrison and Matt Walker will both end up on the podium but line up 11th and 12th at this point around half a second back.
Split 2 is short again and the times are still tight, especially towards the tail of the top 20.
Harrison and Walker may have been slightly back on split one but they burst into life in the woods. There are no prizes for guessing who's right behind them though, Bruni and Hart.
The split isn't so kind for Gwin, Brosnan and Pierron who all lose a hefty chunk of time.
Check out Adam Rojcek too, the Slovakian delivered his best World Cup result by a significant margin with an 18th and he's mixing it up with the big guns here after a weak start.
Bruni and Hart have already set themselves apart as the strongest riders in this race after just a minute of racing. They are separated by just 0.1 but have a slither of daylight back to Charlie Harrison in third.
Gwin, Brosnan, Walker and Vergier all look to be set up for challenging for the final podium spots but disaster will soon strike for the Frenchman. Pierron leads the chasing pack about a second behind the leaders.
Sector 3 is where Bruni really stakes his claim for the win. He takes the longest split on the track by more than 0.3 and only five riders can get within a second of his blistering pace. As always the rock garden proved to be super crucial and the contrasting styles of Bruni's smooth floating and Danny's full charge both seemed to be effective in their own way.
This is Pierron's best sector of the race while Troy Brosnan starts to recover from a sloppy second sector. Gwin was in a podium spot before this sector but seems to struggle and will slip backwards in the standings. Slovenian Jure Zabjek puts in a great effort for 8th, no doubt taking advantage of the vocal, local support who were willing him through the entire sector.
We're past the halfway point in the race and it's now Bruni's to lose. Hart is his only real challenger at this point and even he sits nearly half a second in arrears.
Pierron's heroics in the rock garden lift him into a podium spot as Gwin gets bumped down to seventh. Loris crashes coming off the fireroad, ending his challenge for a podium spot.
Mark Wallace shows his pace in qualifying can't just be attributed to the rain as he dominates the fourth sector. Greenland and Harrison are neck and neck in hot pursuit with Bruni and Brosnan not too far behind. Aussie Oliver Zwar comes from no where to end up sixth here, if you watch the live feed he was looking super aggressive through these corners.
Danny Hart is about a second back on Wallace and, crucially, half a second back on Bruni too, is this where his challenge for the win faltered? Matt Walker also has a disaster here, he mentioned over-braking in his live feed interview and it cost him dearly as he could only muster 24th on this sector.
Bruni now leads by nearly a second and can afford a few mistakes before the finish line. Hart will have to look over his shoulder in the final split as he has Brosnan and Harrison in hot pursuit.
Gwin rounds out the podium at this point having put in a few consistent sectors but Greenland, Pierron and Wallace all look to be in striking distance. Walker seems like he's thrown it away at this point as he sits in eighth and about 0.5 off the podium.
Walker turns his fortunes around with a blistering sprint to the line - clearly he's been putting in the work over the off season. Dakotah Norton trails him closely with his best split of the race 0.2 back. Brosnan and Harrison secure their podium splits with strong finishes. Hart isn't far off but can only pull back about half a second on Bruni who still takes the win despite a tenth place on this sector.
Gwin (8th), Greenland (14th), Pierron (9th) and Wallace (13th) all lose lots of time to Walker as he leapfrogs them onto the box.
Bruni takes his third career win by 0.4 from Danny Hart. Troy Brosnan racks up third and then two podium debutants in Harrison and Walker make the trip to the box.
What a race it was for the women! Rachel and Tahnee were trading splits all the way down the track and look set for another struggle of epic proportions throughout the rest of the season.
Tahnee won two of the sectors and Rachel another but there were great performances from Cabirou and Hoffmann to ensure the Brits didn't get it all their own way.
After the first split, Rachel Atherton looks like she's going to start off 2019 how she ended 2018, as the indisputable fastest woman. She smashes through the first sector in 37.909 but Tahnee is just over a quarter of a second back.
Tracey Hannah leads out the rest of the women but she's already over a second and a half back. Marine Cabirou is fourth and then there's a great sector from Mariana Salazar Palomo in fifth - her best of the race. Monika Hrastnik doesn't have the start she would have wanted on home turf and lies eighth.
Tahnee Seagrave starts gearing up and wins the first of the two sectors she will take in the race putting nearly a second into Rachel in second. Hannah, Hrastnik and Hoffman round out the top five in this sector. Marine Cabirou is the big loser hereafter she skims a tree pad just before the timing split. She rolled down eighth and lost nearly three seconds.
Tahnee has a half second lead after the first third of the track but it's far from safe with Atherton ready to strike.
Hannah is all alone 2.5 seconds back and Hrastnik has recovered from a tough first sector to bring herself back into podium contention. Cabirou drops out of the podium spots but is about to change all that...
Cabirou shines through the rock garden and takes the fastest split from Atherton by 0.7, clearly the Frenchwoman will be one to watch when the tracks get steeper and more tech in July.
The third sector proved to be crucial to the winner in the men's race but it's actually fairly weak for Tahnee and she ends up 1.4 back on Cabirou and crucially 0.7 back on Atherton.
Tahnee's troubles have handed the lead back to Atherton but there's less than a tenth in it with just over a minute of the race to go. Cabirou has powered back up the standings and looks like she could start to challenge Hannah's third place.
Hrastnik and Hoffmann continue their battle for the final podium spot with Hoffmann edging ahead into fifth again.
Tahnee takes another sector win, this time from Hrastnik, who is within two tenths of a second. Rachel loses half a second to Tahnee here with Tracey right on her tail. Cabirou has another strong showing meaning all the top five women are within a second.
Tahnee has a lead of 0.4 seconds heading into the final sector but, as Matt Walker proved in the men's race, a lot can change in that sprint to the line. Tracey seems to have plenty of time to play with in third leaving Hrastnik and Cabirou to fight for fourth and fifth.
Nina Hoffmann is the surprise winner of the final sector as she flies into the finish area. Cabirou and Hrastnik both follow her closely and secure their podium spots. Tahnee has her worst split of the race to finish fifth but so does Atherton in seventh, allowing Tahnee to secure the win.
Tahnee takes the win and will get to wear the leader's jersey for the first time in Fort William. Rachel gave the Atherton Bikes prototype a decent christening with a second place finish on its first World Cup outing.
Tracey Hannah is consistent throughout the race with sector times ranking 3rd 3rd, 3rd, 4th and 4th and finishes 3rd. Cabirou and Hrastnik fill out the podium while Hoffmann's heroics in the final can't quite get her onto the box. She finished 1.5 seconds shy but will definitely be one to watch as the season progresses.