Filip Polc has won the craziest downtown race in the world, the Valparaiso Downtown event in Chile.
Fraser Britton was at the scene and has sent us this great insight into the bonkers street race.
1. Filip Polc (SVK)
2. Cedric Gracia (FRA)
3. Mario Jarrin (ECU)
Words and Photos:Fraser Britton.
Filip Polc took home his second VCA title in a row this weekend in Valparaiso, Chile. Cedric Gracia took second and Mario Jarrin of Ecuador took home third.
The urban track is becoming legendary in the downhill world as more and more big names pros are using it to kick off their race season and enjoy a bit of sun and southern hospitality during the northern hemisphere’s winter months.
The event was bigger than ever for 2011, with a massive Athlete lounge that could be rolled into from the finish line directly, with white leather sofas, shade and things to eat and drink, thanks to Samsung. Canon Cameras set up 2 media areas with beers, fruit and sandwiches for the press to relax and get out of the sun.
This year’s course was a slightly modified version of the 2010 version, with a few new features and much better construction. Every obstacle from the start gate down was built of welded steel with 3/4″ plywood decking – sturdy. No more rickety moving jumps of the past and no incidents that required major repairs mid race day. After a few tweaks, the gaps on track were perfect for the speed riders were carrying into them, requiring little to no brake checks or panicked pedalling.
Race morning dawned cold and drizzly, a first for the event. As 11 am rolled around and practice was set to start, CG and I rolled up the ridiculously wet street, with tires on the pickup spinning on every hill. Slippery does not even begin to explain the conditions. 50 years of grease, grime, oil and animal shit ground into the cobblestone all started to come up with the tiniest bit of moisture. Even walking down the track was an experience. The first few practice runs were terrifying as most riders not only had to deal with slick conditions (and 90 degree corners on a 45 degree hill…) but also contend with hitting the jumps for the first time. 3 runs to get it right and get comfortable, no room for error!
An hour delay due to UCI track modifications and the sun started to come out and dry things up, and by race time the cobbles were back to being dusty and slippery instead of wet and deadly.
In qualifying it was Gracia taking the lead, with Polc in 3rd 3 seconds, Antonio Leiva of Chile was in second place. Following a quick complimentary massage, it was back to the top for everyone as the crowds hit epic proportions. Somehow, Polc made up his 3 second deficit to take the win as the last rider down, with CG in the hotseat for less than a minute as a massive crowd of thousands cheered his name as if he was Pele.
As usual, it was Gracia who stole the podium limelight, getting nearly naked and giving away everything, starting fights for his clothing in the process and winding up back at the hotel in only his boxers and helmet.
Now it is on to a multitude of riding zones until next weekend, thanks to Santa Cruz Chile. Look for some exclusive photos on dirt this week as we enjoy a few days of sunshine, Chilean BBQ and bikes!
Polc Head cam.