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Of Mud and Blood - Cairns World Cup Downhill Practice

<b>During the first few runs this morning, it was nearly impossible to predict what the day had prepared for us. Needless to say, it was not this.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>It's been a while since we have seen a sharp, ugly, monstrous, slippery rock garden akin to Mt. Snow, VT at a World Cup. Lots of consequence here, but lots of speed to be gained too. Dice rolling time. Kathy Sessler in audio.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>In the air, in his car or on the ground Ratboy prefers going sideways. #sidewaysisthenewforward</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Minnaar completed a couple of runs without goggles. Putting sole trust in his mechanic, Marshy, and his plastic mud guard prowess.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Back in 1996 Sean McCaroll qualified first at the World Champs. He's back here today and only one of two who will have raced both. To celebrate he was training in all his old kit and helmet.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Spirits are high as we're set for the first wet World Cup in a few years. Thunderstorms forecast tomorrow and heavy rain for Saturday, now is the time of the wet weather racer! Ruaridh Cunningham skidding to the jet wash.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The rain brought the spiders out of their burrows. This one caught a few birds earlier so riders were spared.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Danny Hart looked quick and comfortable in the wet. The rocks may look sketchy, but he had no problems here. #smellslikechampery</b> -Sven Martin

<b>It's no longer uncommon to see Mick Hannah tucked in the air, straining every available bit of speed out of all sections of the course.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>This section challenged everyone today, not many riders cleaned it twice in a row.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The Brits looked very comfortable in the wet today. Slugger was no exception and remained poised in the downpour.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Just in case Gee is not fast enough for all the crazy animals in the jungle, he brought a special weapon. #ramboatherton</b> -Boris Beyer

<b>Back with the #1 plate and still on the Enduro EVO. Aaron Gwin will be looking to prove that PMB or his current Power Raking isn't just a one-off.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Sam Hill was smashing out the runs! Tweaking and styling at most opportunities, he is certainly enjoying the track and looks in contention for a very strong result. #smellslikechampery</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Yeah Connor! Fearon is more at home in the dry Aussie dusty conditions, but is not afraid to let it loose in the goop.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>There has been a significant investment in the shuttle road here. The truck and trailer uplift battled through the torrential rain with complete success.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Loris Vergier up top, just as the weather began to set in towards the end of the B practice group.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Mitch Not-Tall-Enough-O, curiously chose to stay on the Enduro 29 with single crown fork. This track has some physical pedaling but no where near the amount of South Africa. Not sure why the Specialized crew have ruled the Demo out all together in Cairns. Something new in the pipeline?</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Jono Jones sliding clear of the alien section, just holding it on edge enough to make it through without being probed.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Loic Bruni rolling the dice. The heavy rain came and went today with the dirt constantly changing from goopy peanut butter to rain-washed "grip."</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Brendan Fairclough having no problems getting sideways on the 50-footer.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>With so many people in a rainforest environment, it's unsurprising someone got chomped on. Brendan's elbow is doing swell...</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Blenki may be in clips, but he is riding like he is on flats. Heels down, lean counter-steer slide into an incredibly fast right-hander. Perfect style and technique once again from the Kiwi. Spider-proof gloves, too.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Claire Kovarik splits her time between Whistler and the Gold Coast which is further South. She was looking comfortable in all the gnarly rock and jump sections. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>There was no sign of Steve Peat on the track today. With inhibiting back pains, his time was spent on tables in the offices of professionals and the Syndicate pits.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The heavens opened and out came the umbrella. We managed to squeeze 6 people and 14 spiders under it at one point and it saved my photo taking for the day. </b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Visor extenders, full fenders and roll-off lenses. Rachel is no stranger to these conditions.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Whipping wonders on the big triple. No amount of rain could slow this freight train section of track down.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>This is the jungle and the only path is that between the tape. Any injuries on the top section of the course meant a course hold while the injured rider would walk up the track to the start. This lack of access also makes life hard for the media and spectators.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>This is a fast section of track and the weather adds an element of unpredictability, catching out the unsuspecting Bryn Atkinson.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Smashing laps and hitting gaps, no change from the winter NZ bike park training for the Pivot team.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Towards the bottom of the track as the gradient levels out, there are large sections of standing water.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Matt Simmonds boosting the big triple, mid course. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>You can't find the lines without pushing the limits. Hitting questionable sections pinned takes the guess work out of race day wet runs. Gee Atherton without the national sleeve but the fastest timed training run.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>It's been a couple of years since we saw a proper wet World Cup. Two runs later, you're not so worried about the 3 grams your Ti rotor bolts save.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>You have to train for the good days and the tough days, when the traction is low and the bikes are weighed down by 10-pounds of mud. Rachel finishing up for the day, headed to the jet wash where both rider and bike get sprayed down.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>There was as much body washing as there was bike washing in the pits today.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Shuttle full of candy.</b> -Boris Beyer

<b>Ratboy having a little chat with Sambo as he dangles his spider bait.</b> -Boris Beyer

<b>Should say, "I have no idea what I'm doing."</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Should say, "I miss my math classes."</b> -Boris Beyer

<b>While the media are scared of anything that moves, the locals decide the best footwear for torrential rain is that which is most vulnerable! We survived day 1, stay tuned for more wet, wild action from Australia!</b> -Duncan Philpott

Slippery, sloppy, slimy and spidery, the Cairns World Cup downhill commenced under wet and humid conditions. The course conditions changed each minute, but stayed generally ugly as rock gardens, roots and high-speed sections were made even more difficult. Time training runs revealed that times are about a minute slower than they were in the dry. The weather forecast calls for more moisture. Sven Martin, Duncan Philpott, Boris Beyer and Joe Bowman capture the excitement of this damp, daring downhill.

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