While we had somewhat of a wild introduction to the place, Windham has proved one of the better atmospheres of the World Cup series, its course putting riders well to the test and the event organisers putting on a great show. Things have ramped up all week and for racing the crowd is as healthy as any venue.
Qualifying began with Juniors and a stir of some sorts at the top of the results sheet. Jacob Dickson – doing it for the Orange Dirt World Team – slayed ‘em once again as he did in Mont Sainte Anne last week and galloped home with a clear win of over one second. Andrew Crimmins has been in this position (second) before though and has pulled through for the win in finals, so we’ll have to wait on the edges of our seats to see how finals pan out. American Charlie Harrison was on the pace last week and once again proves he can pose a serious threat here in third. Alex Marin Trillo is always there or thereabouts and finished fourth, while Neil Stewart of FMD Racing is starting to get his race game in place with fifth. That leaves just Laurie Greenland – rounds 4 and 5 winner – as a lone ranger out in seventh. The Trek World Racing rider has been ill this week though and could well turn things around in finals.
The women’s category has been well and truly dominated by Rachel Atherton and Emmeline Ragot in 2015, but with the latter out of the picture through injury it looked as though Atherton may be in for a couple of easy rides in the final three events of the season. Not so though, as a returning Myriam Nicole is ramping things up after early season injury and getting on the gas. While Atherton seemed leaps and bounds ahead of the rest in timed training, Nicole sat watching on trackside. By qualifying the Commencal rider was moving up her upward curve and put the fear into Atherton, two seconds back. Tahnée Seagrave rounded out the top three some seven seconds further back. With that, Atherton took the series title and could celebrate a full event and finals early. She has stolen the show this year and deserves the win.
While Aaron Gwin was looking untouchable early in the season, the American has had a couple of blips in his diary the last two races, with uncharacteristically messy finals runs putting him out of contention, while Frenchman Loic Bruni has edged towards his number 1 plate in the series. The two came into this event on 839 and 814 points respectively, and with them taking the 1-2 in qualifying here the battle still rages among probably the two most polite men in mountain biking. It’s looking to go down to the line, but Minnaar and Brosnan are edging close and both looking flat out and confident here. With today’s finals and a whole event still to go in the series things could well be turned on their head. However, with Gwin qualifying a whole two seconds clear – lightyears when the times are as tight as in the men’s racing – that theory could well be laid to rest by the time Windham racing reached close of play.
Check through the qualifying gallery by Seb Schieck and enjoy the colourful interviews by Wyn Masters, then sit back and get ready for finals, airing on RedBull TV at 2.30PM EDT.