Team BikeRadar's Neil Donoghue on the first round of the downhill world cup

Full report from our man in Maribor

Myself, Marc and Al (Marc's mechanic) were up mega early to fly out to Maribor for the first round of the downhill world cup. Joining us in the delights of flying with RyanAir were about 20 other racers from the UK. including the Atherton posse, Cunny, Bullhead and Stanny.

It was roasting hot and dry in Maribor and it was nice to be back. The track is an old-school flat-out affair, just like it should be!  It is funny to think I came here in my first year of racing world cups in 2000, when I was young, dumb and full of ... well you know. Now I guess I am a bit of a veteran. God knows what that makes Will.

Quite a bit of the track is still the same as it was eight years ago, but it still feels fresh and some parts are so fast. Especially the piste and huge berms, they really keep you on your toes. The infamous rock section seemed to have filled in a little bit which made it absolutely flat out - if you had the balls to stay off your brakes and keep it pinned.

There was a dangerous bit as you came out of the rocks where you had to hit a rock skinny that was about 6 inches wide and you had to gap over another rock outcrop off of it. You really had to be perfectly on line or you were in a world of trouble, as Josh Bryceland found out in the final. It looked like he just missed the edge and it threw him down a 10 foot drop into rocks and stumps at about 30 mph.

Get well soon Josh.

I just managed to hold onto it in the final in the same place when I hit my pedal on something and it sent me into a massive nose wheelie, apparently it happened to Sam Blenkinsop as well who was the next man down after me - so I think there must have been a stone in the line or something, but you are just going so fast that it is impossible to see every rock and lump.

It was pretty much already over for me at that point anyway because I crashed in the top woods. It was so disappointing, just a stupid little slide out. But the times were so tight that I knew it had knocked me way down already.

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.  

For a full team bio, check out the Team BikeRadar page.

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