Photos: Simon Nieborak and Ian Lean

Words: Ian Lean

After heavy rain all through the night, riders woke to overcast but cloudy conditions for the first day of practice. It was all going swimmingly (no pun intended) until after lunch, when familiarity returned with light rain turning to heavy by 5PM. The conditions have meant all teams are spread across the site, so pro pits mingling with privateers has been a refreshing change.

The track resembled a cattle field on the top half, with what looked like chocolate fondue rivers flowing down the ruts, making it hard to recognise any riders or even number plates within a few metres from the start gate.

Making the best of grim conditions were the usual suspects, notably Danny Hart who has looked rapid since his first run. Phil Atwill, Innes Graham and James Purvis among others all looking more than comfortable of their new steeds. With the absence of Rachel Atherton, it will be down to Manon, Tahnee and Katy Curd to fight it out for the Elite Women category. 

At the end of the day, conditions were looking slightly more favourable for Sunday's race (for the media squids mostly), with cloud cover! Hooray! Not sure if the riders were thinking the same, if that mud begins to dry it's going to turn from boggy to sticky goodness.

Stay tuned for more!

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Innes Graham looking confident and very much at home on his new team and bike for 2016.
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Matt Simmonds.
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