Last Sunday, Sam Blenkinsop (Yeti/Fox Factory Team) took his first ever step onto the World Cup podium at round two of the UCI World Cup in Vallnord, Andorra. Blenkinsop, placed fifth in the race won by Gee Atherton, and became only the second New Zealand male downhiller to do so, following on from Justin Leov who also finished fifth back in 2005 at a World Cup round in Angel Fire in the US.
Now team-mates, the two Kiwis trained all last week on the course, but it was clear that the two and half minute track was more to "Blinky's" liking. The team used their own timing equipment throughout the week and results indicated that Blenkinsop was producing times within range of a win.
Blenkinsop's performance came weeks after he qualified fastest and finished seventh at the test event on the World Championship course in Val di Sole, Italy. That race gave him confidence building up to the Andorra World Cup.
After his race in Andorra, Blenkinsop said, "I was way nervous backstage at the podium, getting up on the box for the first time, there was heaps of press. I could get used to this though. The top section of corners [on the course] was pretty sweet and I got the bottom section dialled later on, so even though I made a mistake in the semi, running wide and hooking up on a tree, I knew what I had to do in the final. I like Fort William, too, so I'm keen for the next race".
Had Blenkinsop finished fifth at the Maribor round of the World Cup, he would not have been on the podium. There, the UCI had reduced the podium to three riders, but after a unanimous petition from the top riders in the world, the UCI returned to the five rider podium effective in Andorra.
Blenkinsop's results moves him into ninth overall in the World Cup standings, just two points behind mate Leov.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the World Cup men's downhill in Andorra.