Norco Factory Racing - Lenzerheide 2017

Jul 9, 2017 at 2:22
by Thomas Gaffney  
Immediately following Vallnord, Andorra World Cup, the team packed up and headed for Lenzerheide, Switzerland for World Cup #5.

This would be the second double event (DH and XC), so once again, added spectators and action for everyone!

As most World Cup riders would agree, it would not be fair to label Lenzerheide’s purpose built World Cup track as very 'bike park'. It may have multiple berms and man-made features, but it’s a very technical and demanding track as well. Due to the high speeds, loose terrain, and top rock garden alone, it test both rider and bike at peak levels. You do not hear many comments about the track being simple or easy. The word wild and sketchy are more often shared amongst the top downhiller’s on the planet.

One of the most critical and amazing abilities of these approx. 200 World Cup downhill athletes who travel the globe, is the skill and mindset to push the limits from day 1 of practice. The reality is, with 1 day of practice prior to narrowing the field down by over 50% during qualifying, there simply isn’t time to ‘get comfortable’. You are on edge from day 1. For this, we have RESPECT to all riders who enter.

For our guys, it was no different. From day 1 of practice, it was all about getting a handle on the limits of the track. To be fair, this track seems to catch a few riders off-guard. More specifically, sometimes it hard to know whether one is going quick or not on this track. Maybe this is what makes this track so difficult mentally. It’s just hard to know whether you’ve got a hold of the beast or not.


Enter Friday's qualifying, and all 3 riders were looking ready to rumble. Starting with Sam, just being outside of top 20 protection, there’s a pressure to have a run that satisfies both speed and preservation (of both rider and equipment). Despite a small leak in the rear tire, Sam was able to qualify 39th, he was moving on the finals. Next up was Joe. With a steady charge, and run he considered less then ideal, he surprised himself with a season best 12th place qualifier. Very impressive, especially with a partial injury. Last up was Henry. Confident in his plan, using ‘modern technology’ (his LITPro GPS timing system) to improve continually improve his performances, the momentum was there. As we agree, numbers don’t lie. For Henry, we believe it’s been a key tool. With a time in mind, Henry came down with a solid run, and qualified for his first World Men’s Elite final. Well done.

For Saturday’s finals, there’s not much to say. All guys had good practice, and with it being just being past the ½ mark in the World Cup season, strong finishes and points are on the line. With Henry up first, it was great to see him racing in the finals. Unfortunately the top rock garden (maybe the toughest of the year) decided to pull him off his bike. Getting back up, he finished his run with a decent time considering a big fall. Hank finished up 75th on the day. Next was Sam, simply put, this tracks has not been tough over the years (never finishing inside the top 20). As some of you can appreciate, sometime you just can’t get a handle of certain tracks or trails. With a steady run, Sam came down an impressive 6 seconds quicker then qualifying, finishing 33rd on the day. Last was Joe, steady and slightly conservative (his words) might summarize his run best. So this made his season best 19th place finish even more impressive. A good day.

The team is now off for a few weeks, besides Henry racing Canadian National Championships in 2 weeks, the remainder of the team gets a bit of a chance to rest and recover after a 6 week straight race tour. Next big events, Mont Sainte Anne World Cup, and Crankworx Whistler, including EWS Whistler.

- Norco Factory Racing


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