I’m now sat on the train on my way to Schladming. It’s the day after the race at Champery. I’m pretty glad that one’s out of the way to be honest. The whole week was pretty heavy. Getting the track into a rideable state after the terrible weather was a real stress. I was never that keen on the track, due to the limitations we had whilst building, but in the end it really wasn’t that bad. Most riders seemed to enjoy riding the track once they got into it. However, some of the BMXers absolutely hated the track. The main reason was the first straight and the first turn. Short and steep, flat and greasy respectively. They weren’t too keen on the rock sections and loose corners either. Things weren’t looking good. They were about to get worse….
Like clockwork, the heavens opened just in time for racing (I bet it’ll chuck it down mid-way through DH finals today too). The top section of the track was made from a kind of local clay which gets seriously slick when wet. The conditions were atrocious. Torrential rain throughout the finals. At one point it got so bad we had to stop racing for 15 minutes. The track had good drainage but the sheer bulk of water falling out of the sky had built up huge lakes in the bowls of the jumps. Every race saw riders reverse steering every turn speedway style. It was easy to see who was running their tyres pressures too hard.
In the end the track saw some of the best racing I’ve ever seen! I’m sure the rain had an effect on this. Despite the claims that the track was “one line” there was passing in every turn but one (out of 10 turns). Last year, a top rider told me that the best way to make a track race well, is to make riders hate it. Maybe he was right after all…….
Crash of the night goes to Roger Rinderknecht. Roger came flat out through the berm before the river jump whilst in first. The heavy G’s rolled his front tyre off the rim stopping his bike dead on the lip of the gap. I swore he was going straight into the river but he let go of his bike and flung himself over. It was incredible, he actually flew.
Move of the night came from Lopes passing Prokop in the final. Prokop got the snap, holding off lopes in the first and second turns. Lopes was still behind in turn 3. I’d moved some flags around after qualifying to open up a few lines for racing. Prokop took advantage of a new line through the rocks but this allowed Lopes to get alongside. Lopes muscled through with the 2 riders leaning all over each other. All fair and square, good clean full contact racing. Surely one would bail but no, both got through safely with Lopes now leading until the finish. Not an easy task with Prokop behind you.
In the Women’s, Kintner got passed or snapped by Sedor, I can’t exactly remember what happened. Sedor hooked up, landing the river gap, losing her pump. Kintner jumped to the right to take the slightly longer gap, got a huge pump. She powered through to the table top to overtake Sedor in the air. Another good race.
Well done to all the riders for putting on a great show for the public despite the terrible weather. The race was a real test of rider skill in all conditions. Had Sam Hill been rtacing maybe we would have seen an upset?
I’ll let you know how the Schladming work goes sometime this week. I think I’ll be installing a sprinkler system in the rock section there, just in case it’s sunny!