Wet, cold and muddy is what the weather gods had in store for the first World Cup of 2020, but that did little to dampen the spirits of the riders as they took to the track for the first race of a double-header week in Maribor, Slovenia.
Check what the riders had to say before the race in the video below, then keep reading, watching and listening to find out how the day would unfold.
As racing got underway, junior Oisin O'Callaghan backed up his fresh World Championship title with a closely contested World Cup win here in Maribor, just 0.09 ahead of Dan Slack to see him get his first season with the YT Mob off to a dream start. In the Junior Women's, Leona Pierrini of France wound up on top.
In the Women's Elite category, Marine Cabirou confirmed that she is still is in good form, adding to her 2019 World Cup win streak with a W here at the first World Cup event of 2020. Myriam Nicole and Tracey Hannah seemed to struggle to hold speed in the sticky slop and ended up 6 and 7 seconds back respectively to grab the podium places next to Marine.
Marine Cabirou Post-Race Video Interview
Time for the Elite Men, and the course seemed to be drying out little by little which left many riders struggling to commit to a tire type. Mud tires helped up top but could be harder to control on the firmer sections of the track.
- Reece Wilson, the recently crowned World Champion and fastest qualifier here yesterday, took a big crash in morning practice and had to sit out the final run. Word was that he almost knocked his teeth out, which tells us everything we need to know about how gnarly that crash must have been.
- Bernard Kerr was one of the first riders to really make sense of the track, looking good on his way to the hot seat.
- Kade Edwards had a big off at speed, looked gnarly but he finished his run.
- Martin Maes! Smooth and controlled for the most part, 0.9 up on Bernard to book his stay on the hot seat.
- Brook Macdonald looked solid through the first part of the track, but lost the front wheel in the woods which dropped him down the order at the end of the run.
- Doing his best to fly the Pierron family flag in brother Amaury's absence, Baptiste Pierron was on a heater but a mistake in lower woods saw him cross the line in 2nd position, 0.6 seconds back.
- Shaw! Pinned through the rock garden, up by 1.5, then 2.5, finishing 3.5 seconds ahead as he crossed the line! Luca rode a smart mix of full attack and calculated caution where needed to bring home a clean AND fast run.
- Minnaar in touch! Virtually the same splits as team mate Luca, ahead by 0.5 at the line! His lower section is where he made it count, and we were curious to see who would be the next to threaten. Minnaar confirmed he was running mud tires - would that turn out to be a winning choice?
- Gwin never got on the pace, loosing time at every split, 6.7 back at the line. Hart slid out in the first open grassy turn to see his challenge come to a premature end. Finn Iles was riding well but he shoulder tackled a tree and derailed his bid. Team mate Bruni looked determined to make amends but he came to grief on the same turn that took out Danny.
- Trummer in touch! Within 0.2 of Minnaar at the early splits, David went down on a slick off-camber section, 7th position as he crossed the line but a lot of green section splits showed that the pace was there. Brosnan was on a flyer too, clean and fast through the sections we saw, but he was unable to keep in touch and ended up crossing the line 3.2 back. Moir threw down an exciting run with a fearless attack through the rock garden, 3.1 back crossing the line in 3rd and in line for another good finish. With 4 riders left to go, could anybody stop Greg Minnaar from beating his own record of World Cup wins?
- THIRION!!!! Vintage Remi Thirion, he threw down a loose and attacking run that had us on the edge of our seats. Up at the early splits, pulling ahead all the way - 2.2 up at the line! What a performance!
- Loris in the green!!! Same pace as Thirion up top, then pulls ahead at every split, 2.5 up at the line! Loris was fast and on the limit, but making speed everywhere. Smooth is fast.
- Matt Walker rode well but lost time throughout, 4 seconds back but still third with just one rider still left to drop in. Young gun Thibaut Daprela qualified second here behind Reece Wilson, showing that he is more than ready to duke it out with the big boys for his first year in Elite. 1.6 back at the first split left him with a lot of work to do, he attacked hard but would come up short, 3rd at the line and a strong statement from this 19-year old rider who is surely promised a bright future in the sport.
- Incredibly, with Amaury out and Loic crashing, we still had a French 1-2-3 here - vive la France!
Loris Vergier Post-Race Audio Interview