While a massive swell is expected this week at the world-famous, big-wave surf spot of Nazaré, a short drive up the Portuguese coast, the action promises to be almost as epic over here in Lousã. The top riders won't just be riding Giants; they'll be on Commencals, YT, Mondrakers and more... Dad jokes aside, what we have here is a pretty special race course, confirmed by a glint of mischief in the eyes of more than a few fast men and women following the track walk this afternoon.
Somehow, this quaint little town of Lousã, down the road from all the jet-ski assisted insanity, looks set to deliver something of an end-of-season 'super banger' despite it all. It's an atmospheric venue evoking a Pietermaritzburg feel, with white pick-up trucks awaiting shuttle duties among tall eucalyptus trees and a litany of well-sculpted tabletops in red dirt. Wide taping, plenty of airtime and some very loose surfaces will hopefully have us reminiscing over courses of old. Wild and free memories of Meribel 2014 will perhaps be jogged. The 2 tracks for rounds 3 and 4 go their separate ways on 3 occasions and look like they can offer enough variation to keep things fresh for the ultimate races of this especially short and sweet 2020 season
Note that Brook MacDonald, Jack Moir and Ed Masters, among others, can be added to the long list of top-flight absentees. Already sidelined due to injury or travel restriction were greats, Amaury Pierron, Vali Höll, Rachel Atherton, Veronika Widmann, Laurie Greenland, Dean Lucas, Connor Fearon, Sam Blenkinsop... the list goes on. Nevertheless what we do have is an array of big names far greater than we ever could have hoped for considering the way 2020 has panned out. It seems unlikely anyone will be disappointed by what's to come here in Portugal. The dirt starts flying in the morning.