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Last weekend the UCI Downhill world cup circus arrived at Val di sole for the final round of the 2017 series. With the championship, still to be decided, all eyes were on Minaar and Gwin, 2 juggernauts of the sport who had fought hard all year to take the crown, but, with both experiencing uncharacteristic misfortune throughout the 2017 season, things had not gone to plan. A statement that resonated for most riders in the top 5 in 2017, with a variety of technical or equipment malfunctions, even freak weather events that have thrown the 2017 series in to championship chaos at several points throughout the year. A lot of the weird and wonderful ‘racing moments’ we have witnessed in 2017 have not been caused by rider error this year. That misfortune has not been selective with WD-40 Athlete Danny Hart (who became world champion at this venue in 2016) also succumbing to unusual conditions early in the 2017 season. At Val di Sole Danny was determined to continue his recent run of form that has taken him all the way back up to 4th overall in the standings as racing begun in the valley of the sun. Danny used his race craft to qualify in a steady 8th place nicely in the top 10 and proof that he was on the pace. On race day Danny was up on the first time split, but soon after had an un usual crash, Danny got straight back up and continued down the course, but the damage was done and with times so tight at the top Danny could unfortunately only achieve 32nd on the day. That result meant that Danny finished the World Cup series in 6th overall – an impressive achievement considering he was unable to take any real championship points from the first 2 rounds. Next up is the world championships for the last race of the 2017 season in Cairns Australia. #WD-40 bike
This weekend saw the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup travel across the pond to Mont Sainte Anne in Canada for the first and only stage of this year’s World Cup held outside Europe. Danny came into the weekend full of confidence after some brilliant previous results including two 3rd place finishes in the last two consecutive World Cup races! With the course set up dry and quick, Danny was looking to repeat his heroics from last year’s World Cup where he won on this very same course! He quickly showed how comfortable he is on the Canadian mountain finishing 2nd in a quick timed practice on Thursday, completing the course only one second behind 1st placed Loic Bruni. With Danny’s confidence building from race to race this season, he was certainly in the mood for success this weekend and he brought that mood into qualifying on Saturday! Danny ripped down the dry and gnarly course to qualify in 4th place for Sunday’s race, just 3 seconds behind top qualifier and this year’s stand out rider, Aaron Gwin! Onto Race day and with the weather coming, it took the course from a fast, dry course into a wet, tricky and slippery course!! The early lead was taken by Australian Dean Lucas, who was in the Hot seat right up until the final riders came down the mountain! Danny, who has previously won in such terrible conditions, came out aggressively and was immediately taking time off the current leader! Danny was ahead all the way until the final sector, where he just came up short of the leader’s time! An unbelievable run and 3rd place from the World Champ given the conditions!! Fastest qualifier then smashed the course and the leaders time to take the win…. Again! Danny’s 3rd place finish moves him up to 4th in the overall World Cup Standing with one race to go in Val De Sole, Italy at the end of August!
With 5 races done and only 2 left to go in this year’s Down Hill world cup this weekend’s race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland could be the pivotal moment for many in the 2017 campaign. For a track that is located within a Bike Park the course was surprisingly technical. This was largely due to significant recent rain fall washing away some of the dirt tracks exposing more rocks and creating ‘problems’ or ‘new lines’ depending on how riders were able to cope with what was taped out in front of them. Practise provided numerous crashes as the riders tried to decide on the best route down and no-one escaped without incident either on themselves or their bike. WD-40 Athlete Danny Hart remaining on his familiar 27.5” wheeled bike qualified in 6th, proving his speed and ability on this track where he won last time around. Race day and Danny was able to put a run together that took over a second off the fastest time of the day and he assumed his now regular stint in the hot seat as event leader. The question as always with the remaining handful of athletes at the top of the hill was whether he would remain there. Eventually the greatest of all time Greg Minaar managed to post fastest time of the day with last week’s winner Troy Brosnan stealing second. Greg Minaar has now won 21 World Cups – incredible. Aaron Gwin who was last man down after qualifying 1st was on a scorcher of a run until he went too hard into a rock garden and punctured his rear wheel destroying all chances of a win, or a podium any points he could salvage by simply getting down could prove significant as we arrive at the business end of the season. Danny now moves up to 7th overall in the championship standings even after his unlucky start to the year – testimony indeed to his world class race craft. The series now moves on to Monte St Anne in Canada taking place on the weekend of the 5th & 6th of August. #WD40BIKE
Tough weekend ends in disappointment for Danny Hart WD-40 Athlete Danny Hart like many others rolled into this weekend’s race keen to dominate and provide the world with a true display of his speed and form after the farce of Round 1 in Lourdes when the worlds fasted men were punished by a rapid change in weather conditions. This year a few course changes had been made. A new fast flowing section mid-way down caused no issue, but the infamous woods section lower down the course – this would be where the race was won or lost. To win a rider would need to fully commit, the risk versus reward scenario was very much in play – you could play it safe and bank some championship points, but in doing so you would be saying goodbye to the win. If a rider before you crashed or slid through, then your chances changed every time a rider went before you. Danny was one of the riders who fully committed but unfortunately came to blows with the course falling heavily over the bars. Destroying all chances of a win and even a top 20 position. Danny however wasn’t alone with many riders not even making it through the woods when they had decided to play safe. To put this into some sort of context the top 5 literally reflected the number of people who managed to get through the woods – it was carnage! But that’s the risk of racing – until his crash Danny was several seconds faster than the fastest time of the day. It’s clear that Danny is still in blistering form but the luck has not come his way yet. Onwards to Leogang in Austria for round 3 on the 10th & 11th of June. Results 1st – Greg Minaar 2nd – Marcelo Gutierrez 3rd – Jack Moir 59th– Danny Hart
After the 7 months of ‘off season’ the mountainbike world waited in feverish anticipation for Rd 1 of this year’s UCI Downhill World Cup which took place in Lourdes, France. Qualifying was sensational with 3 of the top 6 spots taken by riders aboard the new 29” wheel size machines in development for 2017. Expect this to be the new standard by the time we arrive at Rd 2 in Fort William, Scotland in June. Race Day – This was the most hyped up race in years, but, the showdown, the reveal, the fight we all wanted to see amongst the world’s fastest, never materialised. The hill, the conditions, the opportunities available, were not the same for all. As the process dictates, the fastest qualifiers come down the hill last. Ordinarily this guarantees, the amazing spectacle we have come to know and love, with the thousands of a second becoming more crucial as the afternoon rolls on. Not wanting to take anything away from Frenchman Alexandre Foyolle’s win, it was spectacular, it had commitment that was unmatched in dry conditions and was within 0.1 seconds of the fastest qualifying time 24 hours before. But the storm came in early, the wind picked up to gusts of 140kmh, the clouds descended and the rain came, just as the fastest men started their runs. For a season opening event with so much expectation, the fans, the teams, even the riders themselves we were all robbed of ‘what might have been’. In the end WD-40’s Danny Hart crashed near the bottom of the course and finished 76th. In the end WD-40’s Danny Hart crashed near the bottom of the course and finished 76th. Not a fair reflection of the skill he rode with, or the form he was in. (4th in Saturday’s qualifying). The conditions were abysmal – the riding was exceptional – yet the result will never show the bravery he displayed. With the weather playing such a big part in proceedings – the quote from many was “With what happened with the weather here today – Rd2 effectively becomes Rd1.” So, on to Fort William and Rd2 on the 3rd & 4th of June, that’s when we’ll get our true 1st race of the year. #WD40Bike 1st Alexandre Foyolle 2nd Mark Wallace 3rd Marcello Gutierrez 76th Danny Hart – (In the Rain)