Gordon downhill mountain biker Reece Wilson moves up world standings after eighth-place finish in Switzerland
There was no time to dwell on what might have been in the previous week’s world championships as the world’s best downhill mountain bike racers, including Gordon’s Reece Wilson, once again hopped over the Alps, this time to Lenzerheide in Switzerland.
Round four saw the last European event before the final double-header to come in the USA in mid-September.
Factory Trek rider Wilson, 25, had lost his world champion’s rainbow jersey the week before but gained confidence in the dusty, dry conditions that had been his Achilles heel this year.
Smarting from their collective failure to take the jersey the previous weekend in Italy were a strong French contingent outdone by South Africa’s Greg Minnaar.
The Lenzerheide track is known as short, steep, fast and intense and this year it had some monster jumps added to spice it up further.
The weather had remained relatively dry and warm with only a brief shower on race morning to keep the dust down but the grass slippy for the unwary.
Times were tight as the early starters descended, with the smallest mistakes carrying time losses and crashes and punctures a regular sight as riders tried to push to the limit.
As with the last two rounds, the final top 20 runners provided the big drama, with American Luca Shaw crashing heavily over rocks, thankfully uninjured, before his countryman Dakota Norton took the hotseat off the UK’s Matt Walker from P11.
Wilson, starting from P10 was faster at all the split times except the one that mattered at the bottom, just 0.3 seconds behind Norton.
Englishman Laurie Greenland, from P7, deposed the American but from then on no one got the hot-seat even remotely warm as fastest time after fastest time was posted, eventually leading to Wilson’s team-mate Loris Vergier holding his nerve to take the win by 0.1 of a second from Amaury Pierron.
France took the top four placings, but the UK took three of the next four, with Wilson finishing eighth overall, moving him up one place to ninth in the standings.
“It feels bittersweet as I made a few mistakes that cost me a place on the podium,” he said afterwards.
“It’s all about not making errors, so that’s the focus for the next rounds.”