That is it - the first World Cup race of the 2014 season has been and gone and our season is off to a solid start.
Pietersmartizburg in South Africa is a tough course for the first big race of the season and this year with the changes made, it was particularly chalenging. As a team manager of young riders, it is a difficult job to encourage your riders to ride fast when you see the man-made rock sections that had been added - just to make it more ‘difficult’… you could see this was the case as the weekend went on the the more riders went down and were ruled out for the race, some for the rest of the season!
Our riders were actually coping quite well with this fast track that has 3 distinct sections… top, pedal and bottom. After a few tinkers with bike set-up both Tahnée and Neil were really enjoying the track. They were both getting faster and faster and with qualifying on Friday afternoon and Neil being told to ‘take it easy’ he went up for a flying lap and the track bit him - hard! We honestly believe that it is Neil’s strength, Point1 training and the amazing Fox Rampage Carbon Pro helmet that saved his season.
Neil did need to go to hospital for x-rays so he was allowed to ‘break the beam’ at the start for his qualifying run, watch Tahnée put a solid qualifying run and then head off to hospital.
All patched up and with no broken bones, the riders put in the final preparations during the saturday morning training session. Neil was suffering but Tahnée was starting to find her rhythm - she was 24 seconds back in friday’s qualifying but knew her winters training was better than that.
Neil was the very first rider down and, he struggled. With his wrist still injured from Saturday, he found it hard to hold on and stay on his lines… he was pushed straight into second by Frenchman Amaury Pierron but with both producing great times, they sat in the heat for a very long time. Neil finished up 10th in his first World Cup a great foundation for this future star.
Tahnée was next up and this was her first official race with the Elite Women. All weekend our talented female rider was showing the big girls how it was done… she was one of the first to attempt the big jumps on the course and was the only girl in the finals to launch the ‘money maker’ at the end. “I sometimes wonder if it is faster to hit these big jumps but it’s what makes racing even more fun, so i am not going to stop” said Tahnée.
Although she ended up in the same position she made up around 8 seconds from her qualifying run and took away some huge positives from this first weekend of racing - we all did.
The team now has a few days rest before they head off to Australia, with both riders in the top 10!
A special thanks to all our sponsors:
Devinci Cycles, Marzocchi Suspension, FoxHead Europe, Shimano Zee, ProBike Gear (Madison UK), Schwalbe Tires, Tune, MarshGuard, Works Components, Dieci-9, Extreme Lounging & ClifBar (Extra UK)
Tahnée’s Personal Sponsors:
DZR Shoes, Les Gets BikePark, StarDust Beanies, Oakley Eyewear, Crank Bros (Extra UK)
Neil’s Personal Sponsors: