Bond goes fastest in Pietermaritzburg
Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 9:01pm
The 2012 season has started early in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa for round 1 of the Rocky Roads UCI World Cup Downhill series. With rider numbers trimmed down to 3 of our 5 strong team, Joe Smith, Matt Simmonds and Al Bond (who raced all weekend after only breaking his collar bone three weeks ago in pre-season training!) represented the team on South African soil. Overall, the team didn't get the results we had hoped for on the tough course at PMB – but the round was a great experience and ideal opportunity to showcase the new bikes and kit in front of our South African fans.
We came to the race hoping to challenge the fastest riders in the world and although we didn't quite achieve that in the final positions, Al Bond riding with a broken collar bone was the fastest man on the track through the speed trap – sending his Nukeproof Scalp through the insanely fast gully section and over the 25m table top at 63.6kmh – a full 4 kmph faster than any other rider on the hill – The lad is mental!
Al struggled with his injury over the weekend and was not able to ride his bike to his full potential doing well to qualify for the finals and ending up 53rd in the race. I have high hopes for Al when he is back to full fitness and feel that he’ll be a great addition to the team this year.
Joe Smith battled a bit through the practice and the race swapping back and forth between his usual flat pedals set up and clipping in to try and give himself an advantage on the very flat and pedaly middle section of the track. In the end Joe opted for flat pedals but couldn't seem to find the limit you have to ride at to be at the top end of the results on this really fast but straight forward track. Joe ended up 42nd which was a bit disappointing for him but he is looking forward to the more technical tracks in Europe that suit him better.
Matt Simmonds had high hopes for a good result here and after a decent qualifying race in 27th. With a steady run, he was confident and ready for the finals. It didn't go his way either today, making a big mistake on the top section losing a lot of time and not able to make it up on the bottom ending up in 45th. Matt is really disappointed with this result but will be back with a vengeance alongside the rest of the team at round 2 in Val Di Sole – Italy, in 2 months time.
We missed having Matti Lehikoinen and Lewis Buchanan here with us this week. They are still recovering from surgeries they have had in the off season to repair injuries from last season, but we will hopefully be back to a full team roster for the remainder of the series.
Thanks go to our mechanics Carl, Brooks and Cord for their hard work this week keeping our bikes running faultlessly. A new ‘off-track’ face to the CRC/NP team this year is our mechanic Brooks who did a fantastic job and is a great addition to the team. Cord did a great job as usual and we all wish he was going to be with us for the rest of the year!
Look out for our team video from this race, as I think it is going to be a corker! We had a lot of fun and the riding footage should be great to watch. Without a doubt we have the best looking bikes and race kit this season. CRC designer Dillon Osborne has done us proud with his design skills.
Congratulations to Gregg Minnaar for taking a well deserved win in front of his home town crowd.
1. Greg Minnarr 3:57.98
2. Aaron Gwin 3:58.61
3. Mick Hannah 3.58.97
4. Gee Atherton 3.59.28
5. Steve Smith 4.02.36
42. Joe Smith 4:12.82
45. Matt Simmonds 4:13.08
53. Al Bond 4.14.71
1. Tracey Hannah 4:33.80
2. Manon Carpenter 4:34.75
3. Emmiline Ragot 4:36.61
4. Jill Kintner 4.42.29
5. Miriam Ruchti 4.44.70
Thanks very much to all our sponsors for our great bikes and gear!