Fort William - day one recap
Wyn Masters is back on the World Cup scene aboard the new Bulls Bikes DH rig. The New Zealand rider has been plagued with injury over the past couple of years and yet to return to the form he showed back in 2010, qualifying 5th in Champery, Switzerland.
This is the first prototype downhill bike from Bulls Bikes and details are a little hazy right now. What we do know is the bike uses a high main pivot and pulley wheel assembly, has a 63 degree head angle and Wyn assures us that the next prototype will be lighter.
Greg Minnaar, the current World Champion, was sporting this new custom Kabuto lid today throughout practice. Greg took a big tumble quite early on today but seemed ok when we caught up with him. During timed training Greg looked pinned, but just like his Syndicate team mates, didn’t push for a top time this afternoon.
Another fresh lid amongst the Santa Cruz Syndicate camp was Peaty’s latest Troy Lee Designs painted D3, which looked stunning and not too dissimilar to his lid from his famous victory here in 2005.
Aboard Josh Bryceland’s Santa Cruz Broson was Burgtec’s latest Enduro stem, aimed firmly at trail riders and enduro racers. The steerer pinch bolts sit neatly between the bar and steerer tube to avoid any nasty short/knee snagging incidents on bolt heads.
This particular stem was 50mm. We’re unsure as to whether other lengths will be available.
Brendan Fairclough doesn’t have the best luck here in Fort Bill but the sun had him in good spirits today. He was running his Gambler with 26in wheels early on but did mention potentially shifting to bigger 650b wheels later. On top of that, he’s clipped in, too.
Ben Reid was looking flat out in practice aboard his prototype 650b Norco Aurum. His team has made switch to Manitou suspension this year which, sadly, has no race support program at the World Cups. This means Ben has been taking care of all maintenance for him and his team, servicing forks each and every day to keep things running sweet.
Aaron Gwin’s new Specialized Demo 8 carbon was the quietest bike on the hill by some way. This could have been down to the new short cage SRAM BlackBox rear derailleur he was running ,or the new Fox Racing Shox RAD prototype rear shock he was sporting.
Sadly, after smoking a field packed with World Cup superstars at the British Downhill Series race at Innerleithen the previous week, Adam Brayton’s day ended with a suspected broken collar bone. We wish the Hope Technology rider a speedy recovery.
Sam Hill was looking relaxed about his new CRC/Nukeproof Pulse today, posted the 8th fastest time in timed training this afternoon.
Mick Hannah was looking rapid today but fully in control. Heading toward the famous deer gate section of the track, Mick was taking a tight inside line and break neck speed.
Look at the time! Rob Warner was cruising the pits today, catching up after a busy off season. He’s sure to come out with some gems during the live coverage so be sure to tune in and watch live.
The switch to Indonesian bike brand Polygon obviously hasn’t fazed Mick who posted the quickest time in timed training aboard his Collosus DHX bike which he says they’ve just altered the head angle slightly to make it even quicker. We’d love to see Mick back on the podium and can’t wait to see what he can do on Sunday!
Both Steve Peat and Josh Bryceland were running this prototype Fox rear air shock. Justin Frey, Fox’s race program suspension technician was tight lipped about this new prototype. In appearance it certainly looks similar to their new all mountain style Float X rear air shock but rather has high and low speed compression adjusters rather than CTD adjustment.
Trek World Racing showed us this crazy ‘bike warmer’. The idea is simply stick this bike tent at the top of the hill, put the bike inside and warm the suspension and tyres up to optimal temperatures for better performance. TWR mechanics told us that the bike will need warming for between 20-30mins before the run to maximise performance.
Here’s the trolley the bike warmer gets carted around in.
Round one of the UCI Downhill World Cup kicked off today here in Fort William on what many riders regard as one of the toughest tracks on the circuit.
Unusually, the weather has been stinking hot and the track bone dry from top to bottom. The upper sections have become even rougher. Even the smoothest riders ranked within the top 10 seem to be getting bucked and rattled as they try and stick to their lines.
The new practice format sees the riders split into an A and B group. The A group consists of male riders ranked within the top 150 while the B group consists of the entire female category, juniors and men ranked outside top 150. The system is one that’s been praised by the riders but does mean the windows for spotting specific riders feels more limited.
It wasn’t until late this afternoon that we saw riders begin to really open things during timed practice, where Michael Hannah took the top spot in the men’s, while Rachael Atherton firmly stamped a mark of authority on the women’s category.
Here’s some of our highlights from the day…