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RIDERS ON COURSE: World Champs Day 1 Action and Junior Men Seeding

<b>Graves sticking with the little bike today. Only he and Mitch Ropelato are riding single crown forks and are making it work lower down on the track. Will they be able to make up the time they lose in the rough?</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Blenki was having a tough time dealing with the speed and taller front end of the 27.5 wheels today...ok, not really.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Rachel going back to old school with what looks like 26 front and 24 back in this trippy encounter.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The top section of the track proved challenging for all riders. Hooking up will lose you valuable time, even giving the dust an opportunity to overtake you. Danny Hart's bench press training paying off.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>A far cry from the damp and slick Welsh conditions Gee sees most of the time, the track here provides a whole new traction game</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Sam Hill has no problem nailing the inside to inside on the chicane. He never does. Others, however, were struggling to hold outside to outside. #ninja</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Remi. Remi. Remi. The man always looks good on a bike.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Loic Bruni leaning on the flat, hard-packed dirt that crumbles and breaks apart when you least expect it. #aintscared</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nick Beer also has Devinci's 650b One Night Stand Bike (thanks for the name, OCsponger587). His string of results has been gradually improving, building valuable momentum.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>See what we mean about things breaking apart?</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Speaking of breaking apart...there is only one place you really do not want to go down here in PMB and that's the Gully. Fastest part of the track with a deathgrip huck-to-hardpacked-whooped-out landing. Jonty Neethling not so Funn afterall.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Continuing the theme...Neko Mulally on the top section just moments after a massive OTB crash. He is one tough nut. Another new helmet for him. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>It may not be a Kodak moment, but there is never a dull moment when Ivan-possibly-the-world's-most-hardcore-superfan is in town from France. One Life. Expect partial nudity next. #tucked</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Can't have a pic of Ivan and not one of Greg Minnaar. Greg was looking fast and loose everywhere. Clearly, testing and pushing the limits of the track today.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Peaty and Minnaar blasting.</b> -This is Peaty

<b>Italy's Lorenzo Suding and Vitorrio Sicilia...one faking the beard, one not.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>When you rail ruts and blast berms, think of the photographers in the firing line. The Hof getting up close and personal today.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>With Remi Thirion style and Greg Minnaar speed, we just could not skip putting in young Tim Bentley from South Africa. Textbook and fastest through this section today.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Trummer, trumped.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Josh setting off this morning with a PMA in PMB.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Needles looking for a taxi ride up the N3.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Emmeline Ragot, not afraid to get wild off the rocks and into the rocks up top.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>If Marcelo Gutierrez was wearing different colored shoes, his kit would truly be complete. I don't think that is a concern for him this weekend though.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>If you glance at this shot, you assume it's Gee or at least a fast guy. But Rachel Atherton was smashing turns just like the boys today. It's awesome to see so many of the women raise their game so much this year.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>There are bonus points if your roost gets to your head height. Aussies stacked up the bonus points today.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Mitch and Gwin headed up for first run today.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>One of the most tech parts of the course is actually the simplest to ride. It's the easy bits that will get you here in PMB. Pompon dropping into Cloud Nine. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>There was an unveiling of the Burry Stander memorial this afternoon, a reflection on what was such a tragic loss. As Burry would have wanted, Bobby Behan (Specialized Marketing Manager and good friend of Burry's) focused on remembering the good times with the character.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The memorial here at Cascade's park is Burry's local riding and competition ground. It was a very humbling evening with various speakers reciting their favourite memories and remarking about how much of an impact Burry had on the lives of many.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Jill Kintner committing to the inside line and headed for some equipment testing on the stump.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The One Life crew operate a beer shuttle service. Guess who wanted in...</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Track-side personal chauffeur for me and the Reunion Posse. One Lifer, Laurence Truter, the *Mayor* of Pietermaritzburg, keeping it real with the road sodas. Thanks for the ride and refreshments!</b> -Sven Martin

<b>To be BoXXer World Champ, you have to beat King Evan Shaka Zulu Warner here.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Remember when journalists got paid to take pics of the newest gear? Now the riders do it for free. Let's hope Gwin and Mitch have contracts that earn them at least a penny per Instagram like!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>By the time riders get to the starting line, they're already covered in dust. Any dust on our sensors will be considered watermarks, proof we were there.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>If this was Bar Drag Bounty and not World Champs, we would have a winner right here. Junior UK rider, Mike Jones, tests the limits of his knobs. 3rd in seeding and plenty left in the tank.</b> Sven Martin

<b>Last year's World Champ licking her lips in anticipation of another title. Morgane Charre was looking confident in the dust today. Can the "World Champs Specialist" deliver again this weekend?</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Every South African rider is wearing their jersey with more pride than ever before. The crowds are yet to emerge, but come race day, thousands and thousands are expected to cheer on their hometown heroes.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Greg wasn't hanging around in practice and it was up to Steve to stay on his tail in the Syndicate train...if he could see through the dust that is.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Jay Fesperman has a task on his hands keeping up with last year's silver medallist, Richie Rude. The super dry nature of the track has led to some impressive holes forming which fill with dust, waiting to be exploded.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The motorway jumps were out of action today. High winds made for some seriously sketchy air time.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The new growth trees shielded these jumps a little for the Junior men to get their penultimate practice runs dialed. Junior Worlds takes place shortly, 2 days ahead of the Elite. For now the attention is on them!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Raw Ender Ender action...stay tuned for more from South Africa!</b>

Elite Men and Women drop into the dusty, hard-packed Pietermaritzburg World Champs downhill course and Junior Men take their seeding runs. The dry conditions along with high volume of riders have caused the track to deteriorate, exposing big holes and obstacles hidden in the dust. Enjoy the action from the pinnacle of MTB races, straight out of South Africa.

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