After the crazy conditions, crashes and general carnage of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championship in Leogang, the wet and wild weather continued in Maribor for the first downhill round of the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
Training on Wednesday had been sunny and dry, but by the time qualification rolled around on Thursday the riders were back to heavy rain, cold and mud.
New men’s world champion Reece Wilson continued his fine form by going fastest in qualifying, however a practice crash meant he had to sit out the race itself.
Australian Tracey Hannah launched down the course, packed with slick roots and menacing rocks, 5.348s quicker in qualifying than nearest rival Myriam Nicole.
The women were up first on race day with Briton Tahnée Seagrave fastest early on before French rider Marine Cabirou sent down a brilliant, fast run to lead.
Slovenian Monika Hrastnik and Italian Eleonora Farina rode well as new world champion Camille Balanche crashed with Nicole and then Hannah unable to better Cabirou’s time.
The 23-year-old Cabirou won by 6.115 seconds – thanks to her aggressive, direct lines – for her fourth win in a row ahead of Sunday’s second Maribor race.
She revealed: “It is totally amazing. Today I was really motivated. I am so happy. The conditions were hard – so slippery. I tried to push where I knew I was safe.”
The men went down second with Belgian Martin Maes setting a lead time early on before three-time World Cup champion Greg Minnaar of South Africa took over.
Frenchman Loic Bruni’s crash saw him lose out with compatriot Rémi Thirion setting a great time, which Loris Vergier then beat but Thibaut Dapréla could not.
Vergier was initially unaware that Wilson was not starting, but nerves soon turned to celebrations when he realised that his second World Cup win was in the bag.
The 24-year-old said: “I focused on not crashing on the first corner. It was tough out there. All the podium boys were on mud tyres.”
UCI MTB World Cup downhill – Maribor race one
1. Marine Cabirou FRA 3m43.595s
2. Myriam Nicole FRA +6.115s
3. Tracey Hannah AUS +7.290s
4. Eleanora Farina ITA +9.921s
5. Monika Hrastnik SLO +11.549s
1. Loris Vergier FRA 3m07.903s
2. Rémi Thirion FRA +2.652s
3. Thibaut Dapréla FRA +3.104s
4. Matt Walker GBR +4.099s
5. Greg Minnaar RSA +4.949s