Two weeks, two races. Both on the same continent but worlds apart. Yet there was a small commonality - the lack of traction. While Chile is home to the legendary loose anti-grip, the rains here in Colombia turned these tracks into greased lightning making the day one of the hardest in memory. Just after the urban stage finished up, the heavens opened up and the rain came down by the bucket full. Water gushed out of the small mountainside streams, and we knew this was going to be a tough one. The call was made to cancel stage six because the conditions made the track dangerous. There was plenty of tripoding, seat bouncing, sliding, crashing, and flat out running when one's wheels got so clogged they stopped spinning. Racers used the flooded creek at the bottom of stage four to clean off bikes caked with mud that probably added up to eight pounds of weight in some cases. If one was the betting type of person, you would have put your money on Sam Hill on Saturday night.
After Marcelo won the urban stage it remained to be seen if he could edge out Sam on his home tracks, but after the rains, the tracks had changed drastically. Sam Hill's performance reminded many of us of the days when he was at the peak of his downhill career. There was no stopping the man in the slick. Sam won four of seven stages and took stage two by about twenty-five seconds. Marcelo would take second on the day, and Damien Oton was back in form with a third-place finish. Frenchman Youn Deniaud had a breakout ride to take fourth. Cecile once again couldn't be stopped despite the slick conditions. She was followed by Isabeau who won stage five, and Katy Winton in third who won stage seven.
Colombia has exceeded all expectations. While this one was one of the hardest days out in racers memories, the memories are indeed going to be fond. The people of this country are incredibly kind and welcoming. The tracks were wild, the racing exciting. Thank you, Colombia. We can't wait to return.