Windham World Cup Race Report

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14 Aug
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Moving swiftly on from Quebec and heading due south, the team arrived in the Catskill Mountains for the penultimate World Cup of the season in Windham, New York state. We’d all been looking forward to this one: a great location and a flat out track make this a fun one to end the North American tour.

Windham World Cup

The track, faster than ever, having been raced on a month earlier and groomed a little here and there, was simply flat out from start to finish. No big changes to previous years’ layout, there was little to separate the riders and only a few key points on the track with lines to choose from. Race day was going to be tighter than ever.

First up was qualifying and as usual, Manon was first to go, as women’s World Cup leader. She had struggled to get up to speed during practice and perhaps riding a little too cautiously, found herself just off the winning pace, in 4th place. Hoping to find a little more speed for finals time.

Manon Carpenter

Manon Carpenter

Sam was next up for the team and still recovering from a difficult morning on the hill. During practice he went down hard in one of the fastest sections of the track and was nursing a sore neck and wrist. Making little fuss about it though, commenting on his qualifying run, said he’d just hesitated a little as he got to the blind spot before he crashed, which on a two and a half minute track, in World Cup racing, is enough to knock you back twenty places.

Sam Dale

Sam Dale

Matt had a better time on the Windham hill and put together another consistent run, qualifying just outside the top ten in 12th place. Qualifying times showed our expectations were correct with the top fifty men finishing within 10 seconds off the winner.

Matt Simmonds

Just Kazu’s qualifying run to go and the whole team waited at the bottom, rooting for their teammate. He’s taken on World Cup racing, traveling with people he can’t understand and injury, all whilst coming out the other side smiling. We all wanted to see him qualify here. His first split time looked good but he lost time in the middle section of the track, finally crossing the line two seconds outside the qualifying time needed for the final. Being the polite and loveable guy he is, he apologised to us all for not quite making the cut and went to clean his bike, as if not thinking he was worthy of his mechanic, Alex, doing it for him. He’s a determined and hard working guy and we all want to help him achieve his goals, he will get there. Great news for him this week was he has been selected as the only male rider from Japan, chosen to race the World Championships. We will be honoured to look after him in Hafjell in a month’s time.

Kazuki

Saturday was finals day and the sun was up, the dust was flying and it promised to be a scorcher of a day’s racing. US rider Jill Kintner had set the early running and now it was time for Manon to put in her run. She looked visibly faster than the girls before her and the split showed her well up on time and some four seconds up on her time from qualifying the day before. Rattling through the rock garden and taking the big jumps on the last piste with ease she crossed the line to lead by seven seconds, a great effort, now she had to wait. Atherton and Ragot should both be applauded for riding out of their skin here, as both managed to eclipse Manon’s time, pushing her down the leaders board to an unfamiliar 4th spot on finals day. Making no excuses, Manon admitted she struggled to get into her groove on the super-fast, loose track and the other girls had pounced on this weakness. It’s going to be an all out battle now in France to see which girl comes out on top for the World Cup overall.

Madison Saracen team

Wimdham race report

The men’s final got exciting early on, every rider coming down seeming to take the lead by just thousandths of a second, it was always going to be a close affair on this super highway of a downhill race track. The skill was in holding your nerve and your line in the loose dirt, covering a hard packed surface. In the open, in the trees and down through the jumps at the bottom of the hill, everything had to be on point and flat out, total commitment and zero mistakes were required here.

Windham Race Report

Sam gave it everything and pushed on hard, riding stiff from his crash, although he had put it to the back of his mind and remained focused, in his riding it showed, he was just a fraction off his best and this would be punished with seconds on the Windham track. Crossing the line just off the pace of the current leader, he would eventually be pushed back to 34th place. Disappointing for him on a track that would normally suit him well. Expect Sam to come out fighting in Meribel, to secure that top overall position for the series.

Sam Dale

Matt was last man down the mountain for the Madison Saracen Team and looked good on the big screen as he sprinted out the start hut. Still holding his own as he went through split one, Matt was just a few hundredths of a second off the pace, losing a little more time in the mid section sadly, he said later he just lost his rhythm through a set of turns on the trees and found himself covering the brakes to correct his line. The knock on effect was a loss of speed into the next section, which had an effect on his final time. He crossed the line just 0.77 seconds off the current leader and his time was eventually good enough for a solid 12th place finish. Another consistent set of scores on the board for Matt and a number 10 board for the final as reward for his efforts. He will continue his hunt for the podium though with one round to go on a track, which should suit him well.

Windham race report

So despite results that we would have been happier with in 2013, we left Windham disappointed. The level of the team has moved on now and expectations are high. A reminder then of why it feels so good when it all goes right and an opportunity to reflect on that before heading to the World Cup final, with our heads held high with what we have achieved this year and one more chance to finish the job off right before the end of the WC season.

Windham race report

Just a one-week break now then, before we head onto the World Cup final in Meribel, France. The whole team will be ready for one last attack, it’s going to be a fight to the final finish line to keep hold of everything we’ve worked hard for this season and we are looking forward to the challenge!

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