The Syndicate always has fun, but takes their racing very seriously. Check out their race recap and photo gallery which shows hijinx going hand-in-hand with the race focus .
The Santa Cruz Syndicate rolled into Andorra ready and raring to get back into World Cup racing after the five-week break between rounds. Like a love child between the Val di Sole and Champery tracks, the new Vallnord course was high speed and high risk. Rain during the week prior had changed the originally dry, dusty track into the kind of slippery, rooty, bombed out steep course that becomes an instant World Cup classic.
Steve Peat qualified with a solid 14th position, whilst Josh Bryceland also pulled out a smooth, steady run for 7th place. Greg Minnaar kept up the pressure and stuck in a confident 2nd place qualifier as a warning shot to all... a mere 0.046 seconds off Sam Hill's pole position time.
On race day Steve's run was subject to delay due to a course hold. Cam Cole's ugly looking crash saw him airlifted off the side of the mountain by helicopter. All the marshals and medics did a great job and we hope to see Big Cam heal up fast!
When Steve finally hit the track he pulled off an 11th place finish. “I’m happy to have a good result here,” said Steve afterwards, "I felt like I still had a bit more left and that I could’ve pushed my V-10 just a little harder. I would have liked to finish top ten to secure a place on the British world champs team, but I hope that my riding here and the last few weeks shows that I am bang on form for the World Champs in South Africa.”
Josh looked to be on a stormer until he crashed into a tree and slid down the rankings into 53rd place. It didn't knock his confidence, as Josh knows he's right on the pace going into the next round.
All eyes were on Minnaar once again. Could he bring it home for Syndicate? Having seen the carnage that went before it was understandable that Greg planned to keep things well under control. In his usual deceptively clean style, Greg put in a tidy run... but on this occasion he just missed the podium by .073 and he placed 6th. “I was riding well all week and after qualifying 2nd I had confidence coming into the final. I didn’t want to risk too much, but I also wish I had pushed harder in the bottom sections." he conceded.
Hats off to Frenchman Remi Thirion who threw down the run of his career to take his first ever podium with a deserved win.
In other news, mountain biking’s most flamboyant Frenchman, Cedric Gracia, announced his immediate retirement from World Cup downhill during the weekend. Cedric assures us we'll still see him in action, challenging the Enduro World Series events and keeping us all entertained on video and film with his own brand of sick riding.
1st THIRION Rémi (FRA): 4:13.666
2nd ATHERTON Gee (GBR): +1.350
3rd HILL Samuel (AUS): +1.756
*6th MINNAAR Greg (RSA): +2.549v
*11th PEAT Steve (GBR): +5.171
*53rd BRYCELAND Josh (GBR): +19.637Thanks to the Syndicate sponsors:
SANTA CRUZ BICYCLES FOX SHIMANO ENVE MAXXIS MUC OFF
CLIF BAR WTB BIRZMAN FOXHEAD CHRIS KING LIZARD SKINS
Credit: Santa Cruz Syndicate