A strong performance for GT Factory Racing at the first World Cup of the year in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Under constant changing conditions the Brit pair of Marc Beaumont and Gee Atherton took to the challenging track at the Cascades Mountain Bike Park in a bid to start the season off on a flyer.
The weekend started badly for Beaumont who hit a tree on the first day of practice, he had tonurse that injury through qualifying which he did well to take a solid 15th spot. Team mate Atherton started slowly in the hope to build up for the finals on Sunday, his qualifier a very solid 4th spot and just 1.7 seconds from fastest rider and native Greg Minnaar.
The weather however threatened to change things dramatically as a heavy rain storm sat over Pietermaritzburg for 4 hours on Saturday evening, the risk of a wet track was not to anyones likings as the soil tends to turn to ice making even the Worlds best struggle down the hill on the clay based surface.
Thankfully for all the competitors the weather improved next morning and the track dried through practice.
When Marc took to the track for his race run the course was looking in great conniption but a mistake on the steepest part of the track meant he lost valuable time on the first sector, with the bit between his teeth he pushed hard on the lower two thirds to bring that time back, a credible 4.06.854 was a agonising 4 seconds off the podium but only good enough for 18th on the day.
Gee’s turn and he had been given a tall task as Australian Mick Hannah had set a blistering time up on the top section, Gee struggled to get going on the top but turned things around on the lower and middle sections. He flew into the finish arena just 4 tenths behind Hannah.
Reigning World Cup champion Aaron Gwin bettered Hannah’s time only to see hometown hero Greg Minnar push hard in front of the home crowd to claim the win. Gee happy with 4th made the podium once again and started the season on the right foot while Marc eyes up the next round in Italy where both he and Gee have won previously.
A big break to that race in June, enough time for Gee’s sister Rachel to return to racing and start her assault on World Cup glory.
All photos: Sven Martin
if you missed the first round of the uci dh world cup fear not watch it here some awesome action went down in south africa
Ok so i have just recovered from testicular cancer within the last ten weeks. On sunday the 19th of feb i decided to take part in the blitz as its a great event and i competed in it last year. I had done a small amount of training before hand but not alot. It was a goal for me to do this as soon as i was diagnosed to give me something to focus on. The blitz is run by biking.ie which is based in ballinastoe in wicklow.they use and maintain the coillte trail centre. The loop is a 14km long loop i did this circuit under the category of baggy shorts.28km is a double loop of the long trail under the category of superpro. The olympian robin seymor was present and a couple of guys from canada british columbia. The race had over 300 entrance on the day including junior riders.. Our race started at 1:05pm on average the loop should take between 50-70mins to complete as it was my first race back i took it easy. The race took me 87mins which wasnt too bad in my opinion but alot of improvement was needed. My team mates also had a good run on the day mixing it with the big boys. Also on my final descent i heard a shout behind me saying rider up and to my suprise it was the olympian robin seymor which i pulled up and let him by and was thanked by him my day was done. To sum it up i had a great day out and even won a biking ireland t-shirt in the prize giving ceromony.
Octunning were also there with race support and bike servicing check them out irelands only fox service centre http://www.octunning.ie
Here are a few pics below.
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