Team CRC Mavic raced at the sixth round of the 2017 Downhill World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, over the weekend where Mike Jones finished on the podium in fifth place.
Team Manager Nigel Page was there, as ever, to bring us the full report:
It was a difficult week for the team in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, for the sixth and penultimate race of the 2017 Downhill World Cup.
To cut a long story short, a series of flight delays, airport cock-ups and car hire company failures led to Elliott’s race bike and Mike’s warm-up bikes not turning up, and us arriving at the race venue a day late.
We had some spares with us but not a lot as we had to bring the minimum on the plane so I had to go around to the teams to ask if anyone had a spare bike that Elliott could use. A big thanks to Matti from Kona who was kind enough to lend us a frame and Evan at SRAM for the parts we didn’t have.
Team mechanic Brooks got the Kona built up and finished the morning of practice after I’d done more running around for a few more parts we needed, and both Elliott and Mike went up for practice on probably the fastest and roughest downhill track on the WC circuit.
The geometry is quite different on the Kona to what Elliott is used to on his Nukeproof Pulse but he was getting on with riding and having fun on the track. Both lads were looking really good in practice when I went up the track to have a look.
Towards the end of practice the top 80 ranked men get to do some timed full runs to see how they are doing. Mike Jones isn’t currently ranked in the top 80 due to him missing all but two rounds due to injury so Elliott went up to do a couple. He posted a really fast time in his first run with a 4:17 but then got a puncture in his second run which was pretty common with the track being so fast in the dry. His first run time was good enough for the 15th fastest in timed training so he was going well.
Friday came around and the qualifying race to try and make the top 80 and Saturday’s finals. I got news thanks to Liam at Dial-A-Flight that Air Canada had found the bike bags which were en route to our accommodation. Thanks for all your help Liam.
As I waited at the finish line for the lads to set off for their qualifying runs, Elliott didn’t arrive when he was due to and then the next rider setting off behind Elliott came into view, so I started to worry if he had crashed. It’s never a good time when your riders don’t come into the finish when they are due to. Luckily Elliott was unhurt but suffered a rear flat up on the top half of the track and had to try and make it down with his tyre hanging off the wheel. He was devastated as this meant he wouldn’t make it into Saturday’s finals. Hard luck mate, but your time will come.
Watch Mike Jones’ practice run helmet cam footage:
Mike Jones came into view on his run and crossed the line with a good time to put him 38th in qualifying with a half deflated front tyre and a small crash into a tree on his run, so we knew he had more in the tank if he had a good run.
It rained heavily overnight which made the track slippery and slower for the finals. It was also due to rain heavily in the afternoon and with the elite Men’s race starting at 2pm it was looking like another wet race.
As Mike went up for his run it started to rain slightly but nothing too bad. I was just hoping for the lad to get a bit a luck and a good run after the year he has had. Mike looked great on the big screen and was riding fast and smooth but within himself as we had discussed. He came flying out of the last rock garden and into view for the last big jumps before the finish line. Mike crossed the line and went into first place with a time of 4:21.8. A good time on the greasy track.
Whilst Mike was sat on the hot seat with Intense rider Dean Lukas who went into the lead after his run with a 4:19 the rain started to come down and it just got heavier and heavier! Rider after rider came down unable to beat Dean or Mike’s times but as the fastest riders started to come down their times were getting close, even though the track was soaking wet MSA is a track that you can still ride fast in the wet conditions, some of the rocky sections actually get more grippy in the rain.
With only four riders to go Mike was still in second place but Canyon’s Troy Brosnan had come within 0.1 of a second off Mike’s time so it was possible the race wasn’t over. Danny Hart put down a super impressive run in the wet conditions to beat Mike and slot into second place. Then Loic Bruni had a super impressive run also to go into third just behind Danny.
Greg Minnaar, the series leader, crashed in the woods so that ended his chances and with only Aaron Gwin the fastest qualifier left to go, what could the rider from Southern California do? Well, he did one of those legendary rides that great champions do from time to time and won the race in the worst conditions possible by over one second. He was up by two seconds at one point but had a stall in the woods when he couldn’t see a rock with all the rain on his goggles. What a ride, congrats Aaron.
So we eventually got a bit of luck, but a huge well done Mike, it was so good to see you back on that World Cup podium. Proud of you mate.
Thanks to Brooks for keeping the bikes going, TJ for his videos and help, Fraser for the photos and everyone that helped us out this week. Much appreciated and just shows how good this sport is when other teams help rival teams out when they are struggling.
[All images by Fraser Britton]