The Clock Doesn't Lie - World Cup Downhill Qualifying Action from Pietermaritzburg 4

<b>Aaron Gwin feeling comfortable on an "almost" DH bike. First place by 2.5-seconds in qualifying. Gwin is back.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Manon early this morning and 9-seconds ahead of her competitors by the afternoon.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Manon has put in the hard work this off season, lots of gym, road, DJ and DH. The professional approach is paying off.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Rachel managed to do the required minimum two runs before her qualifying run. She got help from the whole team with go-pro footage and course notes and suspension settings. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Luca Shaw may be a Junior but he rode like a man today. 1st place by 5.6-seconds</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Another American raising a few eyebrows today was Luca Shaw. He put 5.6-seconds into last year's overall champion to take the top seeding spot.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Rat Boy showing Sven his rear wheel. If this was speed and style he'd have closed that gap on Gwin even more. He was the fastest in the top split by 2.4-seconds, which given the 1 minute 30 length is inspiring for the tech tracks on the circuit. On 26-inch wheels, too.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Josh 'Bender' Bryceland</b>

<b>Rat-a-tat cut out back.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Despite sitting a couple of seconds back in qualification, Greg Minnaar has proven in the past that he's capable of stepping up his game come race day.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>MIck Hannah had no brake at this point and kept it safe and steady. Here Danny Hart reels him in at the Gully and luckily for Mick tomorrow is the bigger day. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Mick, the hunted.</b>

<b>After a couple of years of weak results here for Loic, 4th place in qualification today shows that the training is paying off. 2nd at the top split, he's got it in the tech and needs to hold that momentum through the pedal.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Blenki boosts into the Gully, he hips to the left on entry and swoops over to the right before exiting left again, seeking smooth surface. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Troy low flying and probably scuffing his helmet in the process.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Cricket protein is the future for Gwin, but Brosnan (in audio, not pictured) thinks Chicken McNuggets do the trick.</b> @MadDogBoris

<b>Neko Mulally finished in the top 20 overall last year with some considered and consistent racing. Today he cracked the top 10 in qualifying, helped a long perhaps by some smart visor modifications.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Sam Hill is one of TWO riders that we counted in the top 40 running flat pedals. His pedalling split was well up there and we all know that this man can turn it on in the tech.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Emmeline Ragot on her way to third place, less than half a second off Rachel. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Around here somewhere Gee had a big OTB in his race run, still only finishing 8-seconds off.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Taylor Vernon getting all Blenkinsop for us Gee discusses course attack strategy.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>GT goodness.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Lorenzo Suding</b>

<b>Today wasn't the day for wagon wheels. A puncture in qualification led to an early departure for Mitch Ropelato from this weekend's racing.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Today Aaron Gwin proved that he has the potential to reinstate himself as the best. With a season under his belt on the new equipment he's out to silence the haters.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>The stars and stripes were flying today in all categories. Jill Kintner has placed 4th in her past two years racing here and another 4th place in qualification follows the trend that she's hoping to break.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Casey Brown makes it again with awesome style as she races into the darkness that covers half the valley in the early morning.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Early morning scrub from Casey Brown who does it better than you.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nothing like a bit of banter between friends and rivals. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>One man who frequently dips in and out of the top 10 is Nick Beer. He's shown he can do it on all kinds of track, especially here with a 6th place last year.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Sam Hill top ten on flats. Looking forward to the rest of the year. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Loris Vergier, last year's World Cup overall winner in the Junior class, is fast, smooth and precise. Does he lack the horse power to catch Shaw? We will find out tomorrow. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Up and on the pedals, Rachel battles illness to take second place. Manon has a convincing 9-seconds on her but with only 3 runs of track experience prior to this there's definitely room for improvement for Rachel.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Both filming and photography at a World Cup can be hard. Mixing the two together however, takes a one of a kind. Victor Lucas has been on the circuit long enough to know what it takes.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Remi Thirion</b>

<b>As it stands, team Madison Saracen are leading the team rankings. It's tight with only 3 points separating 1st and 3rd! Sam Dale in audio.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Another blazing run by Gwin and another fire close to the race venue. Things are certainly heating up for race day.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>After reading the Vital captions from yesterday's show, Brendan clipped in to make sure those feet stay put!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Brook MacDonald had a gnarly crash yesterday and didn't know if he would race due to a massive hematoma. He persevered a qualifying run and made the show by coming in 66th. Hard as.</b> @MadDogBoris

<b>Myriam Nicole keeping it smooth and shaved. Perfect positioning with only millimeters to spare. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>There isn't a drop of rain for miles.</b> @MadDogBoris

<b>Marc Beaumont on one of the jumps near the top of the final sector during practice, ending up in 18th for qualifying less than 10-seconds of the winning pace.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>This is Blenki's second year on the 27.5's bike at PMB. He's comfortable on it, stylish as ever and gunning for the top step.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Josh Bryceland has time to reflect on his course walk after relishing the thought of being the first person to potentially win PMB with the least number of pedal strokes.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Calm before the storm.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Racing action heats up in just a few short hours for the first World Cup downhill of 2014. BRING IT ON!</b> -Duncan Philpott

The first true measurement of 2014 World Cup downhill speed was captured today during qualifying runs. As the dust settled, the clock proved that Aaron Gwin had prepared this off-season and posted a first place. Josh Bryceland managed to post up a solid run and land in 2nd place, which is a welcome surprise. Teammate and PMB local, Greg Minnaar, rounded out the top 3. Manon Carpenter put a large dent in the women's times by running into the lead by over 9-seconds. Rachel Atherton, recovering from a virus, followed Manon. Emmeline Ragot secured a 3rd place.

Not in the results were Mick Hannah, who had a brake failure and Mitch Ropelato who suffered a flat tire aboard his Specialized Enduro 29. Mick will race in the finals as a protected, Top 20 rider. Mitch, does not have that luxury and will not race on finals day.

Transport yourself trackside with captivating photos and sounds by Sven Martin, Duncan Philpott and Joe Bowman.

Full PMB Downhill Qualifying Results

How did the riders stack up to the Vital MTB Power Rankings?

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  • Ricorider

    4/12/2014 5:50 AM

    Glad to see you're back with a 300mm Sven. Nice bokeh! ;-)
    Thanks again for the coverage guys. Cheers from France...

  • Hittheshowers13

    4/11/2014 8:19 PM

    Smooth and Shaved!

  • ryan_daugherty

    4/11/2014 8:10 PM

    Sven and Vital kill World Cup coverage. Such a rad slideshow.

  • Big Bird

    4/11/2014 7:07 PM

    I was gonna ask if anyone was showing it on a big screen at Sea Otter, but I just looked and it's at 5:15 AM PST. Time to set my alarm.

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