Not an ideal start to the season for Team BikeRadar but good signs that, with the bad luck out the way, the boys have the speed to get the job done.
Both Marc and Neil had crashes in their downhill final race run on the super fast Maribor track where times were tight and even the slightest error was paid for heavily on the stopwatch. Neil's problem was a small one and he continued to push hard to the bottom, in the hope of salvaging a few points for the long series ahead.
Neil Donoghue: "After the crash I absolutely pinned it. A bit daft really, but I hit some of the sections really well and I finished up with a time just five seconds off my qualifying time. It is really disappointing to come away with no points but at least I know I am riding well."
Qualifying in the top ten, Marc was confident on the track and enjoying the weekend, unfortunately at the midway point in his run, as the track turned off the fire road to drop back into the woods his front wheel drifted out. He corrected it but couldn't miss the tree on the entrance to the drop and was sent over the bars and down into the woods head first. He's getting checked out by a specialist today but is confident of a return to form ready for round two in Andorra in three weeks time.
4X was my main focus for the weekend and I felt right at home on the fast, loose track which also had a few more challenging jumps than in the past, which it's good to see. My gates seem pretty consistent right now, which is essential and a good boost to the confidence.
In heat one I came out the gate level with Brian Lopes and to his outside going into turn one, I switched behind him going into the second open corner and as he struggled for grip I took the lead and held it to the finish line. Meeting me in the finish area was a UCI commissaire with a red card. I had gone off line a little landing from the big hip jump which had a rutted take off and landed too close to the track flag marker to avoid it. The marshals said my wheels where the wrong side of the post so I was out.
Gutted to have a simple accident punished so harshly I had to sit and watch the rest of the evening knowing I should have been in the fight a good while longer.
On to the 4X National Championships this weekend for me while Donny heads for Lisbon downtown and Marc puts his shoulder on ice.
A frustrating start, then, but confidence is high in the camp and we plan to make amends soon. Spectator numbers were great all weekend and the tech area was full of race fans eager to check out the Team BikeRadar bikes and the team VDub which was very popular!
For a full team bio, check out the Team BikeRadar page.