Team ChainReactionCycles.com/Nukeproof had a disappointing third round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Leogang, Austria, over the weekend where downhill riders Matt Simmonds, Joe Smith and Lewis Buchanan finished 49th, 52nd and 53rd, respectively, while Matti Lehikoinen was disqualified.
Michael Mechura crashed hard during his qualifying run in the 4X competition and didn’t make the cut for the top 64 that transfer to the finals, while Lukas Mechura finished seventh overall.
The downhill track took a beating with all the rain on Saturday night and practice on Sunday morning, so big holes were appearing on the track and boggy sections were sucking riders’ wheels in. It started to dry out for the finals in parts but was still really muddy in others, so it was a bit of a gamble on tyre choice: dry or mud?
All four team riders made it into the final 80 as expected for Sunday’s main event, but the race didn’t go too well…
Many riders fell victim to the difficult conditions during the finals and rider-after-rider came down muddy after big and small crashes.
Lewis Buchanan finished 53rd – way below his capabilities – but still struggling with his shoulder injury, especially on this tough course where you needed to be 100% just to stay on the bike. Lewis was still the fifth fastest Junior, so not too bad considering.
Matt Simmonds finishing in 49th position is still trying to find his speed and confidence after breaking his knee cap only two months ago. This is still a step closer to where Matt should have been without his injury.
Joe Smith was on a solid run in the finals, posting the 18th fastest first split time of the race and looking faster and faster as his run went on. Joe then went through the really steep rooty section pinned and got bounced off a drop with his front wheel landing on the wrong side of a log holding the top of a berm together. Joe went down hard over the bars and slid down the muddy section on his back and head. He got up fast and scrambled back up to get his bike but ended the race in 52nd, a real shame as he was on for a top 15/20 finish.
It was a big disappointment for Matti Lehikoinen who was looking to improve on his 13th place finish in Fort William last weekend – Matti was committed to going for a fast run and unfortunately the track bit him hard, crashing off on the top steep section and was disqualified for going out of the tapes; so no points for him.
On Friday night Michal Mechura crashed hard in the muddy conditions during his qualifying run and didn’t make the cut for the top 64 that transfer to the Saturday night finals. This was a real disappointment after his strong seventh place finish in Fort William the week before.
Lukas Mechura qualified in 14th position and rode really well, making it all the way through to the semi-final round in the really exciting Saturday night race.
Lukas made a mistake in the first turn battling for the lead with ex-world champion Michal Prokop in his semi-final race, eliminating him from the final but he placed third in the small final for seventh place overall. This was a great result and another step in the right direction for Lukas.
Team Manager Nigel Page said: “This was one of the worst weekends results-wise for the team in a long time. We have a week off now before the next round of the Halo BDS series in Llangollen and then straight to the USA and Canada for rounds four and five of the UCI MTB World Cup.
We are going to regroup, get some training and rest in and be back with a vengeance.
Thanks to our mechanics for keeping the bikes rolling and all our sponsors.”
Source: Matt Cole, Chain Reaction Cycles