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Windham, USA, World Cup Race 6 - 9 August 2014

After a better than expected 41st place at world cup round 5 at Mont Saint Anne the weekend before, I was really excited to get to Windham and get back on the bike again. I was still planning to have a fairly conservative weekend on the bike, and make sure I had no crashes. Protecting my shoulder was still to be the main objective.

When we walked the track we discovered that it was very similar to two years ago when the world cup was last here. There were a few different lines and a few sections had been made smoother, but one thing was the same and that was the speed. Racing was going to be fast and with little to separate riders other than simply staying off the brakes. Times were going to be very tight!

Practice was great fun on the first day. The track was bone dry and fast as hell! By the afternoon I felt like I had good lines and good speed. There was much more speed there but I resisted the urge to go faster and kept focus on just riding smooth and not crashing. In my first timed practice run I did a 2.41 but felt like after looking at a few lines on my next run I could take some time off this. I managed to do that and my final run of the day was a 2.37 and it felt good. I was hoping for a similar time come qualifying.

Qualifying day was another hot one. My practice runs were good and I felt fast but when qualifying came around I was pretty nervous as I knew that with little to separate riders on the track times would be so tight one mistake would leave you the wrong side of the top 80. This was absolutely right and with a time of 2.36 I qualified in 46th place only 3 seconds inside 80th. I hoped to find another couple of seconds for race runs and stay inside the top 50.

I had a look at the track at the start of race day to make sure I was using the fastest smoothest lines. I felt good by the time racing came around and was feeling confident. Again I had another smooth fast run and came through the finish feeling like I’d ridden well and done exactly what I planned. Unfortunately I did exactly the same time as in qualifying which I was a little disappointed with as I felt like I’d gone faster. Everyone really stepped up to the challenge of riding very aggressively on the fast track and this meant that I dropped back to 61st place with my fairly conservative run.

Initially I was disappointed with this, but on reflection I feel the last two weeks have gone really well. Perfectly in fact, considering I was off the bike for 7 weeks before Mont Saint Anne with an immobile shoulder! I’ve finished 41st and 61st in two world cup adding more points to my overall and importantly kept my shoulder off the ground and made it much stronger in the last two weeks. The time on the bike has also improved my confidence and moving into the final round of the world cup series in two weeks this is really important.

This coming weekend I have an IXS cup race in Pila, Italy, where I hope to start riding more aggressively and build up some more speed before Meribel next week. I feel confident that in two weeks time my shoulder will be feeling strong and normal again so I can get back to riding the way I love. Big thanks again to SC Intense, our sponsors and my manager Lars Peyer for all of the support over the last two weeks in North America.

Photos: Duncan Philpott

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