Team BikeRadar's Neil Donoghue reports from Schladming
I have always really enjoyed racing at Schladming, the track is so much fun to ride, you pedal out the start gate and that is pretty much it.
This year the track was using a couple of the old wood sections and also had some new little bits. The new wood soon became pretty hard as the roots dug out and it was steep. There are always loads of riders at the European rounds of the world cup so the track takes a battering through practice and gets really rough. This was no exception, for the finals day the track was pretty brutal and the only way to get down fast was to hang it out.
Race day was hard work for me, I had two big crashes in practice in the morning and was pretty sore going into qualifying. I set off well but only made it a few hundred yards down the track and got stopped by the marshal-red flag. Matt Simmonds had crashed hard and was KO’d, I had to push back to the start and wait an hour for a helicopter to airlift a photographer that Matt had hit. Pretty gnarly.
I was a bit over it by the time it was my go again, I had cooled down then tried to warm up again but I didn’t feel great as I left the start hut. I crashed pretty hard into a tree just 30 seconds and I rode the rest of the track in a bit of pain and crashed again, a pretty awful run but I qualified only 20 seconds off the leader so I knew I was riding ok. I put a big slice into my shin in the first crash and went to the medical tent where they could only offer me a mint and some water, great!
I sorted myself out and got back to the start for finals. I pushed pretty hard in my run and was so close to crashing twice, two massive slides that I just held with a dab. I came over the line with a pretty good time and sat in the hot seat for quite a while, always a good feeling. I ended up 11th which felt really good, a bit gutting I wasn’t in the top 10 though as I would have been in the prize money, but a good end to the season.
For BikeRadar’s world cup coverage, go here.