Team ChainReactionCycles/Nukeproof rider Joe Smith has been a stalwart of our pro team for a number of years now. Finishing in the top 20 last year Smith has shown that he has the speed and determination to keep upping his game each season. Here, the 'Ginga Ninja' reports back on the opening part of his 2013 season.
After a really solid start to the world cups with a 13th at Fort William I had a tough time in Italy at the 2nd Round battling through with a beat up body. Next it was time to head home for a couple of national races in the run up to the next World Cup in Andorra which is now just three weeks away..
I had a number of big crashes in Val di sole which meant that the first week and a half leading up to the Llangollen BDS round were mostly made up of resting and trying to let my ribs and hand heal up. I was hoping to get plenty of DH practice in to stay comfortable on the bike but had to make do with busting sprints out on the turbo as it was the least painful activity.
The race at Llangollen was a good one with sunny, warm weather and plenty of fans on the hill all weekend. As usual the track didn't disappoint with flowing steep corners top to bottom – confirming this as a rider favourite on the UK circuit. After a decent Saturday of practice and a further two runs on Sunday morning I felt ready for racing. Luckily for me the course was around the 2 minute mark so dealing with my bruised ribs wasn't too much of a mission. After seeding I was sitting in second just behind Gee Atherton and was looking forward to trying to better my time and carry a bit more speed for finals. Unfortunately the "Stay Smooth" plan didn't pay off and I went two seconds slower in finals. I still managed to finish on the podium so that was good considering I wasn't feeling 100% still.
A gnarly track awaits in Andorra
The next weekend we headed to La Massana in Andorra for a pre World Cup warm up race. As this wasn't scheduled in on the team race calander Matt Simmonds and I headed out by ourselves to try the track out. We arrived on Friday afternoon in the high mountain resort and decided to go walk the track before Saturdays practice, Two hours later and we finally reached the bottom of the track! It was a long, steep, wild and dusty affair which winded it way down from the Vallnord Bikepark. We were both looking forward to getting stuck in with practice the following morning. I soon found out during the first few runs that this was going to be a tough track to race on. Dust lingering in the air, riders everywhere and the heat all made it hard to get any decent length sections linked in together. I managed to get six runs in and decided to call it a day so as not get to beat up on the physically demanding track. A quick two runs in the 1 hour training session on Sunday morning and then we were into the racing!.
The Nukeproof Pulse all ready to go in Andorra
After the first run (my first full run!) I was sitting in 11th but Matt had put a stormer in and was sitting 2nd just 1 sec behind Greg Minnaar. Run 2 and I was keen to get a better run in, unfortunately slipping my pedals on the first pedal section which didn't help. I managed a smooth run overall but on the longer tracks I'm still struggling to hold my upper body up due to my ribs. I went 4 secs faster for 9th. With it being the best of two runs I finished 11th. Matt unfortunately had a crash but still managed 3rd with his first run time.
Now I'm heading back to the UK to get some decent riding and racing in and hopefully get rid of these bad ribs ready for the World Cup here in Andorra.
Thanks for the support!
Matt Simmonds picks up third