Misery in Maribor for Gordon’s new world champion

A trek across the Alps from Leogang in Austria to Maribor in Slovenia led to rounds one and two of the Downhill MTB World Cup after the drama of Gordon rider Reece Wilson’s World Championship win the week before.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 2:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 2:45 pm
Reece Wilson
Reece Wilson

With national colours put away for another year, Reece was back in the Trek Factory team shirt and joined by young English teammate Kade Edwards.

Maribor is another ski resort, so the decision to run the races this late in the season was a risky business, as shown by the mud in Leogang, but the track looked in much better condition, although the weather was far from perfect.

On top of that, for the first time, in an effort to make the series worthwhile, the UCI arranged a double header, with a race on both Friday and Sunday of the same weekend.

There was therefore little rest and recuperation for riders and their mechanics, trying to cram in all the set up and changes required to be competitive at this level.

Thursday qualifying for race one dispelled any doubts about 24-year-old Reece’s’s speed and technical ability as he blitzed the opposition by nearly three seconds to top the timing sheets from Frenchman Thibault Daprela and Welshman Matt Walker.

Optimism for a second straight win was high but heavy overnight rain left the course very soft in places and extra slippery over the rocks and roots.

In Friday’s morning free practice, it all sadly went pear-shaped as Reece hit a soft patch in a berm and veered off course head first into a tree.

Feeling the effects of concussion, he was immediately withdrawn him from the race by his team, in the hope he would recover for the Sunday event.

Without him, the race went ahead with another feast of mud and mayhem which saw French riders Loris Vergier, Remi Thirion and Daprela finish first, second and third, respectively.

When Wilson was again withdrawn from round two qualifying on Saturday, his chances of overall World Cup success disappeared,ed so the focus shifted to who could hold it together for Sunday’s race and take the points lead to Portugal for the final couple or rounds next weekend.

Leading qualifying this time was Loic Bruni, trying to make up for the disappointment of losing his world crown, followed again by Daprela and Aussie Troy Brosnan. Again the track was treacherous in places, but Vergier again proved the master of Maribor, taking a second victory by a slim five hundredths of a second from Bruni and Walker less than half a second adrift in third.

With all the uncertainty of travel restrictions and covid testing hanging in the air, everyone is praying the next event goes ahead in Portugal as planned – none more so than Reece, who is out to make amends and halt the flying French in their wheeltracks..