Jul 11, 2012
The team travelled to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada for the first time in their history last weekend in a much anticipated World Cup round 5. This would be the first time a British UCI XC team had competed in a North American World Cup. The pressure was on after a disappointing weekend at the British Series race just one week before.
Preparation would be vital as the riders had a long travel from London to Quebec. The bad news leading up to the race was a mild cold for both riders after the plane travel during the week had left them feeling lethargic but they were both in positive spirit as race day approached and ready to fight hard for the big results that they crave.
The course at Mont-Sainte-Anne is one of the most technical in the world with huge rock gardens and root infested trails. The many steep bridges sap the energy from your legs whilst the demanding nature of the course means upper body strength is constantly needed.
The Under 23 Elite race would kick start this World Cup at 9am Saturday morning with Rourke on the second row of the grid. As the gun fired on our first Canadian World Cup race, Rourke fired from the line and into a great position on the opening climb. As the riders entered through the feed for the first time, Rourke was 11th but it was clear from the start something was wrong and by lap 3 he had dropped down to the mid-thirties with little left to give it became obvious that the weeks illness had taken its toll and with next week in Windham in the mind, the sensible thing to do was to abandon the race much to Rourkes disappointment.
The Elite men’s race was at 2pm and with a host of riders missing from the start line, Dave was waiting to capitalize and gain important World ranking points as he aims for World Championship selection. A poor start, boxed in on the opening start loop left him with a lot to do but some great moves on the first climb pulled him back into a top 50 position. At the halfway point, Dave had climbed up to 48th position as the rain clouds moved over and opened up making the course extremely slippery. Dave continued to ride solidly and although not at his best put in a good display to finish 52nd gaining valuable points and showing good signs for next week in Windham.
A short trip to Quebec was much needed to relax from an intense weekend before the long drive down to Windham for round 6. Both riders are now fully fit and excited to get on course in the USA for the penultimate round of the World Cup series.
The second week of our first trip to North America took us down from Canada to Windham, New York state, the scene of devastation just a short time ago after it was hit by Hurricane Katrina and destroyed. The people of Windham have rebuilt this now iconic World Cup venue and can be proud of what they have achieved in such a short period of time.
Windham would be an ideal venue for our sponsors SIP Events to hold one of their prestigious events, surrounded by countryside with miles of dry dusty trails set deep in the hills of New York.
After the disappointment of last weekend where the team were all hit by illness and not on full power, the guys were now recharged and ready to do battle once more on a challenging but exciting World Cup course. The start line would be down in the town, on the iconic bridge which had collapsed during Hurricane Katrina and started the devastation on Windham.
As last week, Rourke would be first to go with the early start time of 9am. Orange Monkey manager, Paul Beales was delighted to be working alongside the British Cycling team for the day with logistics being tough due to the distances involved from start line to feed zones. Nerves were high as good results today were crucial.
Rourke got off to the worse possible start with a crash in the start loop leaving him well outside the top 25 and needing to work hard. That he did as he made his way inside the top 20 as the riders entered the descent for the first time on lap one. By lap 3 Rourke was pushing into the top 15 and looking to be in his comfort zone after a tough start. It was to be a strong finish by our South African Champion, finishing 12th, his best World Cup result to date!
The pressure was now on our British superstar, Dave Fletcher who also needed a strong ride to help his cause for selection to the World Championships in August. Dave got off to a solid start and with the heat becoming quite intense chose the wise move of riding himself into the race. This tactic worked well as he came through lap after lap in a stronger position and as the heat increased the riders dropped off one by one leaving Dave to enter the final descent with Swiss rider Marcel Wildhaber and Dutch ace Henk Jaap Moorlag, beating them both in a thrilling sprint finish to take 38th spot, and just like Rourke his best World Cup result ever.
Windham had been an undoubted success with both riders getting their best ever results in the categories they currently sit.
The riders will now head back home for their National Championships in July.
A big thank you to our sponsor for the North American leg of our World Cup journey – www.sip-events.co.uk