The Lisbon Downtown is a really fun race to do, the crowd is unreal. Picture Fort William but the track is only two feet wide and you have to duck and weave not to take anybody out.
The track is only 1 minute 40 seconds long and there are no “sneaky lines” so you have to be pinned but more importantly, perfect. I toyed with the idea of taking my six-inch Santa Cruz Nomad bike but we I haven’t had chance to ride it much lately so I stuck with my trusty V10. Peaty has won the last six downtown races on his downhill bike so I thought it can't be all that bad.
The weekend started off with a bang - literally, when our taxi “driver” (who had already almost killed us all twice) decided to ignore a red light and the pop up car barrier popped up in front of us. The bottom of the van smashed into the bollard and stopped us dead, oil was pissing out of the sump and running like a river down the cobbled street.
All in front of about 200 tourists.
I had to feel a bit sorry for the dude driving, even though he nearly killed us and had already burnt the clutch out on the brand new hire van.
By the time qualifying comes around the place is starting to fill up, there are people hanging over the hay bales, literally in the track. It's hard enough trying to go fast on the mega slippy cobbles but when there is a wall about six inches away and old people wandering down the track it can get pretty interesting.
In his last practice run, Peaty washed out before a set of steps and went down head first and dislocated his finger. He said he had pulled it back into the socket while he was still sliding on his back down the street. He then went on to qualify 2nd just behind his team mate Greg Minnaar. Filip Polc was in 3rd.
In the finals I got a bit loose and had two massive drifts on the fast cobbled turns. That instantly dropped me way down the list; you really can't make any mistakes with the times so tight. Filip Polc set off from the gate, down the first set of steps and coming round the first corner there was an old chap walking down the track, Filip just clipped him and went flying off the track.
The old bloke got back up and set off probably wondering what the hell was going on. Filip got a re-run and managed to knock Sam Hill off the hot seat with a time of 1:43. Peaty next and he was the only person that actually looked like he was going quick down the mega tight part of the track. He came down with a time crazy time of 1:40. Only Minnaar left then and he was looking good, but he couldn’t quite do it, 2nd place.
So Steve did it again and took home the €5000. He absolutely rules at this event!
Lisbon in Numbers - Six hours spent waiting in airports, one car accident, six burnt clutches, three crazy Portuguese taxi drivers (no worries about doing 100mph on the motorway).
Neil Donoghue is a member of Team BikeRadar.