Monday, May 17, 2010

Cam Cole finishes ninth equal at first round of the 2010 UCI World Cup downhill mountain bike series at Maribor, Slovenia

Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team rider Cameron Cole, 22, opened his 2010 World Cup campaign with a ninth-equal at the rain-soaked course at Maribor, Slovenia yesterday.

The former world junior downhill champion shared his ninth position with good friend and fellow countryman Justin Leov, of Trek World Racing, but said the trying, muddy conditions meant he had to fight the whole way.

Cole, of Christchurch, New Zealand, said it had been a tough weekend of racing with conditions changing constantly.

"I walked the track on Thursday and then Friday I kind of struggled a bit in the morning – it was very slippery and drying out and it ended up being similar conditions to the race," Cole said.

"I had to get my bike sorted – my fork was too soft, so I had to run a new spring and then the bike felt really good. It dried in the afternoon so I put my clip pedals on and did a few fast runs and felt good."

By Saturday conditions had deteriorated again and the mountains in Maribor were cloaked in rain.

"It had rained all day non-stop so it was pretty wet and pretty tough conditions and cold at the start of qualifying," Cole admitted.

"It was hard to get warm. I was unsure of how I was going to go and I didn't feel very confident, but I did my best and qualified 13th so that gave me a confidence boost before race day."

The event was cast into turmoil on Sunday morning when racers awoke to a strong wind that had forced the closure of the access lift and cast confusion over any practice runs before the race.

"It was pretty much chaos in the pits," explained Cole.

"Everyone was running around trying to find out what was going on. We only got one run and so I didn't really have a chance to look at anything after qualifying. The track had changed a bit after everyone had been on it, but I just did one run went back to the hotel and chilled out."

"I felt quite positive, but at the same time it was difficult conditions – it was very slippery – probably the worst race conditions I have experienced. It was a mess – the clay was soft and sticky and it was really slippery on all the roots," he recalled.

The messy conditions challenged all riders with mistakes coming thick and fast through the race runs.

"I washed out on the fifth corner and started to think about the time I was losing, but I knew it would be like that for everyone so I just kept fighting and tried to deal with it and to not make too many more mistakes," Cole admitted.

"I washed out in another bit and then at the bottom I blew my feet off and only just got over the last jump. It was pretty wild times, that's for sure," he laughed afterward.

"I came across the line and thought it would have been about a top 20 ride, but I was actually sitting in fourth place – I think there were about six of us on the same second. Justin and I ended up getting exactly the same time, so that was pretty funny."

Cole finished the race in 3:30.65, just over seven seconds off winner Greg Minnaar's race time of 3:23.42.

"I think I lost about three seconds with my mistakes," Cole said, adding, the top three guys were super fast – Brendan [Fairclough] made mistakes, but he was just riding so fast everywhere else and Sam Hill pulled his tear-off and crashed into a tree, but he would have been up there. Greg Minnaar probably didn't make a mistake really."

A top 10 finish in the opening race is a strong beginning for Cole who plans to build on his performances throughout the series ... after a little post-Maribor rest.

"Last year I had an awesome start as well, but I am now keen to have a bit of a rest – I hurt my knee in the race and so I would like to rest that for a few days and do some strength work. Then I have two races before Fort William and so that will be good time on the bike for me and I will be able to attack again there."

The World Cup season opened with a larger than usual contingent of Kiwis and Cole said this will make the season a lot easier.

"I think there were 12 of us at this race so you don't have to go far and you run into another Kiwi. Even in the pits there is a mechanic who is a Kiwi," Cole laughed.

"It makes it easier – we all stick together over here. We're like a team and are one of the only countries that are like this. We all get on and are stoked for whoever does well."

Pre Race video

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