Our reader-turned-reporter Lee Miller took the long flight from covering Crankworx for us, to get himself to Cairns for the 2017 UCI Downhill World Champs.
Watch out Cairns, the Brits are coming! It’s been a long 21 years since the worlds best battled it out in the tropical jungle of North Queensland, Australia for the coveted rainbow stripes.
Back then, the French took both the Men and Women’s elite titles but fast forward 20 years to last years World Champs in Val Di Sole, Italy and it was us Brits that took home both rainbow jerseys with Danny Hart and Rachel Atherton taking the wins respectively.
This year team GB will be looking for a repeat performance with a strong squad in Elite Men, Women and Juniors although local rippers Mick and Tracey Hannah might have something to say about that. Throw in fellow Aussies Troy Brosnan, Jack Moir and Connor Fearon and it’s safe to say the home nation aren’t going to go down without a fight!
The dust has only just settled, literally in the fight for the overall in both the men’s and women’s World Cups and after the tightest battle in years Greg Minnaar will surely be on a mission to avenge the cruel stroke of luck that saw him go from 1st to 3rd overall after Val Di Sole all but two weeks ago.
Overall winner Aaron Gwin, now a 5 time World Cup champion has still yet to add the stripes to his jersey and World Champion of two years ago Loic Bruni was the winner on this course the last time we were here.
Fellow Frenchie Miriam Nicole will be looking to emulate the French double of ’96 and will be full of confidence after winning the Women’s overall World Cup for the first time this year. It’s sure going to be a cracking weekend of racing.
The track here in Cairns has one thing in common with the one the riders last faced a couple of weeks ago….dust! And lots of it! Less than a week out of winter the track here is absolutely bone dry, the thickness of the dust hiding the big roots and sharp rocks could quite easily be compared to the deep sand at the beach just a stones throw away from the finish line. It’s going to get loose.
With most of the teams and riders arriving a few days early to soak up the sun and enjoy the beaches we finally got riding underway this morning with the first day of practice for the Juniors and Elite Men and Women.