There’s one thing that you can’t beat when the World Cup season comes around, and that’s continental living. The lifestyle is great, the weather is good and the racing is the best the world has to offer.
The 2005 Downhill MTB World Cup kicked off in Vigo, Northern Spain. This is a little known part of the Iberian mainland, off the tourist track, and very few people spoke any English. Just a couple of hours from the Portuguese border, it sits beautifully on the coast with a fringe of steeply wooded hills sealing if off from the rest of Spain. For us it couldn’t have been a simpler trip – just hop on a ferry from Plymouth to Santander and then a few hours drive to Vigo. But no, we decided to do it the hard way and crossed
the cheap route to Roscoff and then drove an epic 1,000 miles to Vigo with an overnight surfing stop-over in Hossegor.
The race was held just outside of Vigo, a dry and dusty track with some stunning views down over the harbour. The riders had no time to be
checking this out though, with a whole bundle of fast technical sections on the short two-to-three minute course that included a huge slab of rock, a rock garden full of dusty boulders, a bunch of big step down drops, some tidy jumps and lots of loose dirt.
Friday and Saturday were all about practice. Shred/Bikemagic.com team rider Ashley Mullane managed to cram in nearly a dozen runs of the course and was upbeat about it. I think the course
seemed so similar to his local training spots that even he couldn’t believe it. Having blazing sunshine and just chilling out and watching the world’s top riders scream past in the 4X was enough to relax the Shred camp as the big day came closer.
Sunday arrived with another really early start. I looked out into the dark and shouted to Ash in the next room, “Hey, looks like it’s raining!” His reply was, “bring it on” and we left for the race.
The rain was short lived, but it resulted in the rock slab coming out of the course (a real shame) and although the track was a little wet it wouldn’t last and dry, dusty conditions returned for the main race.
The Semi-finals kicked off early. Our main goal was to qualify somewhere in the top 80. For all the riders this is a nervous time, to find out whether you are among the top riders in the World. For Ash things went well and a storming run qualified him in 42nd place. From this point on he was looking forward to his main run and a smooth and fast ride landed him a final place of 47th – a great ride for the 20year old.
The number of riders at the bottom of the hill increased as the race worked its way through the top boys. World Champ Fabien Barel had put in an awesome early time and was in the hot seat for a lifetime, then it got to the final five. Nathan Rennie, Mick Hannah and Sam Hill blew the doors off and it became tough to see how people were going to beat the Aussie boys times. South
African rider Greg Minnaar dropped the hammer and as he came through the finish our jaws dropped – he’d pulled a miraculous 2 seconds out of the Aussie times. At that point all of the Brits congregated at the finish were wondering just how Steve Peat was going to beat this. The deadly quiet spread as we waited for the split times – we were praying for him to show at 1.40. When the split time clock stopped on 1.38 the crowd erupted, the horns sounded and we all looked out for the lanky lad from Sheffield. As he
stormed into view it was certain that he was going to take the win. It was a great moment and Steve Peat starts the World Cup series as nothing less than number one.
Awesome rides also from Tracy Moseley and Rachel Atherton both on the women’s podium. But Sabrina Jonnier denied them of a win.
So that was it, 1678 miles door to door, a Shred/Bikemagic.com team rider now riding with number 47 on the front of his bike and all of us carrying a tidy suntan. No rest for the wicked though, Rheola this weekend and some more DH action on the mental five-minute DH course.
Until next week. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that we’re having a sale on over at the shred site and you can get the full rundown on our trip in the next issue of shred out on 14th June.