7 month since our best worldcup season in 13 years we spend the winter time with training and material testing to be ready for the 2017 worldcup season, which started with the race in Lourdes/ France- a venue which is more know for it’s religious tourism, than being a destination for downhill riding.
At that time of the season you have to expect everything from super hot to wintry conditions and this time we had the full range.
When we arrived it was super cold with snow at the start of the worldcup track. It dried up pretty quick and we had a few days in warm conditions with a bone-dry track.
The main question was not too much about the track conditions or the fitness level of the riders, but more about the upcoming innovation of using bigger wheels for downhill racing. While most of the teams are using 27,5” wheels since the 2013 one team came up with the bigger 29” wheels, which caused a lot of discussions on speculations, if this will provide a significant advantage in the race. We didn’t mind too much as our 2017 team bike was based on the 2016 winning bike and with the new components of Shimano and Fox the bike was ready to go:
Already in the timed training runs, it was clear that the riders on 29” wheels are fast and even Danny set the second best time of the day, we knew that the bigger wheel size will be a factor, which was fleshed out by the qualifying results. 3 riders with 29” wheel in the top 6 and 2 ahead of Danny who finished in 4th.
Laurie as well as Markus had good but not perfect qualification runs and so they finished within the reach in 18th and 21st place.
While we preparing for race day, the weather forecast turned into a nightmare. In the morning the weather was still okay, but the French police thought about shutting down the event because of wind forecasts around 120km/h. The organization kept running the show and pushed thru race after race. It seemed like the weather will stay constant and the men’s race got started as planned. While riders like Markus and Laurie came down it absolute fair conditions on a dry track the weather change badly into unsporting conditions. Heavy winds and rain effected the top qualifiers pretty bad. Danny and all the other top qualifiers form the day before haven’t been able to beat the times, which have been set in the dry and so the race ended with a more than unexpected podium and Danny in 76th place as apart from the unreal conditions he crashed in the last section.
Even with Laurie in 11th and Markus in 12th we left Lourdes pretty unhappy as the weather conditions and the bad result of Danny will effect the rest of his season. We don’t know yet if we will be able to go for our ambitious goal to fight with Danny for the UCi overall world cup title.
Next world cup stop is Fort William in about a month- stay tuned for more news about international non-world cup races in between- follow us on our instagram profile or our facebook page.