I don’t know about you, but this has to be my favourite time of year. It’s not just because the days are now a decent length, or that my favourite trails are now littered with a kaleidoscope of colours rather than just brown mud, it’s because the racing season is about to truly kick off. Sure, there have already been a load of smaller races where some of the world’s best have already claimed victories, but for me the suspense of seeing them all race head to head at first round of the World Cup is something special.

The race in Maribor will be nothing less than a fresh start, it doesn’t matter what happened last year, it is now a whole different ball game. There are a lot of questions that won’t be answered until that weekend. Whose winter training has paid off big time? How will the ex–Honda boys get on with their new rides? How will everyone else who’s on a new ride get on? Will Fabien Barel finally transfer his World Championship performance to the World Cup? Sabrina or Rachel? What’s going to happen in 4X with the loss of riders due to the Olympics? The list is endless, and as much as we might believe in our little pre–season office sweepstake, the fact is that it’s all pure speculation, pretty much anything could happen.

The thing that makes the first round even more special is that it’s not just me and you who wants to know the answers to these questions, it’s everyone. The atmosphere amongst the racers is completely different to what you’ll find later on in the season. As much as they try and pretend that they’re cool as a cucumber about it all, there’s a definite extra whiff of nerves in the air. I’m pretty sure that this year it’ll be more like a stench of nerves rather than a whiff, after all last year a certain rider by the name of Hill showed the rest of the world a thing or two about how to ride. If you know from the year before that you only missed out on victory by a few hundredths then it’s one thing, but when you know that somehow you’ve got to find handful of seconds from somewhere, then that first World Cup must be a scary place to be.

Anyway, it won’t be long now before my questions start to be answered, but I for one can’t wait. Unfortunately I do have to wait, and so do you, but in the mean time enjoy issue 75...

ed H

Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia