World Champs Test Event

From Kathy Sessler:

The organizers did a brilliant job putting together this test event in the heart of the Val Di Sole region in Northern Italy, and the pleasant weather this weekend helped make the event a great success.   The test event was a great way to prepare for World Championships for both the racers and the organizers.    The Syndicate boys were pleased with the downhill track and feel it is worthy of a championship race.  “The course is great with fast parts ripping through the trees, and it has a lot of rocks and sniper roots all over, and quite a few steep parts.   They’ve done a nice job putting the course together and the sections link up with a nice flow,” said Rennie.

The semi-final run was held to determine start order, with everyone qualifying.  There were some surprises from practice to semi-finals as riders tested the track at a racing pace.  “I just wanted to ride smooth and tried to get on the lines I had seen in practice.  I got half of them, and missed half of them.  I didn’t realize how hard it would be to stay on the lines, or on the track, even,” commented Minnaar.  Peat just rode steady hitting his lines but said, “I felt like I was riding like a girl in some sections.”
Rennie said, “My run was a shocker, I mucked up the top rocks then another section so I just cruised down for an earlier start.”  Josh Bryceland’s run was not “mint”, as he didn’t hit many of his lines, but he was pleased and surprised with a good finish time.  Sam Blenkinsop posted the fast time of 3:29.82, while Peat just beat Minnaar to set the three top positions with 3:30.01 for Peat and 3:30.88 for Minnaar.

The finals saw Bryceland having a fantastic result with a time of 3:29.37, which held up for a 6th place overall finish.  Fabien Barel then set the mark to beat with a time of 3:26.92 to take the hotseat.  Just ten minutes later Hill was smashing it up with the crowd cheering him as he neared the end with an obviously smoking fast run.  His finish time of 3:19.42 had people gasping!  Peat gave it a go and was the next fastest finisher at 3:24.60 to take second place.  Barel’s time held for 3rd, with Florent Payet in 4th with a 3:27.77, and Justin Leov rounding out the top five with a 3:28.67

Minnaar suffered a mechanical that left him in 8th position, and Rennie had a crash that put him off the pace, he finished 59th.  They were both happy at least that these things happened in a test race, and not at a race that counted for more. Minnaar said the course was a lot faster in the final than the qualifier as the clouds moved in and eliminated shadows making it easier to see the track conditions.  On his run, Peat delighted the group of team mechanics as he set out of the start by pumping his fist in the air saluting them.  Syndicate mechanic, Doug Hatfield said, “You had to see it, you could never replace that moment, what a great salute Steve gave to us.  We were pumped!”

The Syndicate will stay on in Italy for a few days testing new Black Box products with SRAM before heading to the first UCI World Cup next week in Maribor.

Nigel Page (CRC/Intense Team Manager):

Sam hill showed everyone why he is the current World Champion and the man to beat come the real race on the 21st June. The course looked super rough for the riders and the bikes. Riders had to be really strong to hold onto the bike and also really fit to be able to go at 100% all the way down the very steep and challenging course.

Chris over came a few bike set up problems for the final and had a descent run to place 11th but also post a good time with a lot more left come the real race. He said he had a descent run and was finally happy with the bike set up. Chris hasn’t rode anything steep with roots since the final World Cup last year, so this was a very valuable test event for him and the team.

Julien had a mechanical early on in his race run and made him pretty nervous all the way down but still managed a great time, so he has a lot more to offer also come June. Juliens hard training over the winter is definitely going to pay off for him and he is very happy with his bike.

Matt had a decent run but struggled a bit with his lines. We got here late because we had to wait for a shipment of parts the riders missed course walking inspection and while the other guys walked the track on Saturday evening, Matt was racing 4X.

Ruaridh was looking great on the course, but unfortunately caught his pedal on a root whilst hopping up onto a high line and flipped over the bars and landed on his back. He jumped back on quickly but then plowed straight into a tree head first. Even with all this Ruaridh still managed a 3.42 only 12 seconds off the top 10! So this is amazing form for him so early on after his winter knee injury.

All the guys now know what they need to work on for the start of the World Cup series in Maribor next weekend. This has been a great weekend of testing and getting the bikes set up properly. We head off to Maribor tomorrow for a bit of training and recovering before Thursda’ys practice



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