Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crash topples Cole's podium hopes

Crash topples Team Lapierre International rider Cam Cole's podium ambition at the fifth round of the 2012 UCI Downhill MTB World Cup series held at Windham, USA, at the weekend, but speed continues to build. Cam Cole, of Christchurch, New Zealand, has wrapped up the North Amercian leg of the 2012 UCI World Cup series with an 11th at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, and a 41st at Windham, USA, but his race run analysis reveal his speed continues to build.

"I made a little mistake in the middle section [at Windham] – I got caught out by the patchy light while trying to get around a rock that was poking out of the ground in a corner," Cole explains. "It was covered in dust and I thought I was on my line, but I was a foot outside it in the soft powder. As soon as I tried to turn aggressively I just washed out." The patchy light in the trees made conditions difficult for all riders at Windham and cost Cole his shot at a podium finish, but he is calm about the incident. "I landed on my arm and it has a pretty decent graze up it, but I have had ice on it and I think it will be okay." The Windham World Cup was won yet again by USA rider, Aaron Gwin, in a time of 2:26.416 extending his lead in the series even further.

"I felt really good yesterday and today and have been in a good mindset. I just wanted to go to the top of the hill today and get a good result. Everything was there – I feel like we went in the right direction with the bike – just a few more tweaks will make it very comfortable and eliminate the risk of making silly mistakes," he shares. Cole posted the fastest speed through the speed trap with 64.031kmh and was seventh overall at the first split before he crashed.

Cole said the shorter track at Windham suited where he was at with his training right now. "It's gnarly now – these tracks are so fast and everyone is pushing so hard so when something does go wrong it's quite major with flat tyres or broken bones among the stakes," he offers. "We have to risk even more now. This year everyone is pushing and the quality of the field is so deep. At a track like Windham if you make one mistake you're outside the top 10 or top 20 even." Cole admitted that it was a dangerous game at the top of the sport. "I think if I stopped on the side of the track and watched other riders I'd get a bit scared, but when I am racing I am so focused on what I am doing. In a race run you can always go a little bit faster than in training – you push yourself that little bit more. Sometimes you get it right and sometimes it doesn't quite go your way." At Windham things certainly didn't go Cole's way. "I gave it my all today and so I am happy with that and I am happy with how I felt on the track. It's frustrating to have crashed, but even a foot out or missing a line can cost you time and you need every half second on a short track like this," he explains.

"We found some speed and I think for the next few races we're heading in the right direction," he explains. At Mont-Sainte-Anne a week earlier Cole finished 11th in what he described as his best ride yet. "It's hard to explain, but if I had finished in the top 10 at Mont-Sainte-Anne it would have been a better feeling than my fifth at Val di Sole. We maybe had a good bike set-up for the track at Val di Sole and everyone has now caught up for these tracks. It felt good last week and we made some good steps forward with the bike and my mind is getting there as well."

After racing four out of the five rounds in the series so far, Cole sits in 13th overall with fellow Kiwis Sam Blenkinsop and Brook Macdonald in 11th and 12th respectively and George Brannigan in 14th. "I think all the Kiwis are going away from this race a bit disappointed, but you know that will make us all hungrer for the end of the season," Cole ventures.

Cole is now looking forward to a rest and some time to get back into some training. "I feel confident I can get back into the top 10." Cole's team mate Loic Bruni, of France, posted his best result of the season to date with a fifth place at Windham, which didn't come as a surprise to Cole. "He has a really smart head on him and he amazes me every week – he's been racing World Cups for two years and he has learnt things within a year that took me four years to learn. He is one of those guys – one in a million like a Gwin or a Hill or a Brosnan. He's going to be a good rider if he keeps going at this rate. He had a good run today and he executed his run when a lot of guys didn't."

The glut of four races in the middle of the season had taken its toll on riders and the break was well needed, Cole said. "I hadn't raced a World Cup until Italy which was a month ago now – so for me it's been just going to races and learning about the bike and my physical condition at the races. We haven't had the chance to go away and try things with the bike or do things with the training where you might be lacking physically." "I knew that would be a challenge when I got here – I have been on the road for about seven weeks now so I am looking forward to a break. The driving, flying and five different countries, each with different food – it takes its toll. It's hard to keep the body fresh and recover for the next week."

Cole will take one weekend off before attending Crankworx Europe and Mega Avalanche ahead of the penultimate World Cup at Val d'Isére at the end of July. "Crankworx and Mega Avalanche are festival events so they will be more about having time on the bike and training for me," he smiles.

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