By Greg Johnson
Tricky conditions played a role in the downhill World Cup this weekend. The opening round was held at the seaside town of Vigo, Spain.
Perhaps the racer who benefitted most was British rider Marc Beaumont who took victory in the men's event. After posting the 77th quickest time during Saturday's semi-finals, the Team Mbuk Santa Cruz rider lucked out with the conditions during his run, which were comparatively drier than during his better credentialed rival's runs. He won in rain-plagued conditions.
"It's something that I have been dreaming about since I was four years old," said an ecstatic Beaumont. "I don't know what to say. I am amazed. I was in the lead since the beginning and to not move from there was somewhat incredible."
The Great Britain rider now leads the World Cup standings. He got the better of the top two seeds from the semi finals to take victory ahead of Spanish racer David Vazquez Lopez (MSC Bikes) and South African Greg Minnaar (Team G-Cross Honda).
Reigning World Downhill champion Steve Peat, who finished third last year, did not make the final podium although he topped the time sheets in Saturday's semi-finals. Instead, he finished fourth, two seconds behind the winner, in the final.
"I expected to gain, but was impossible by the weather conditions," said Peat. "The rain meant that the circuit was different for some runners and obliged us to have small failures that cost us some very valuable seconds."
On the women's side, French racer Sabrina Jonnier was less affected by the adverse conditions. She smashed the competition with a winning margin of seven seconds, sending a clear message to her rivals that she plans to continue her dominance in 2007.
"To win here, in the first test, is the best way to begin the World Cup," stated Jonnier. "Therefore I am happy, very happy."
Jonnier won ahead of British racer Tracy Moseley (Kona Les Gets) and French woman Emmeline Rago.
While the women's final was also affected by rain, it didn't suffer to the same extent that the men's final did. The conditions did however play a vital part in setup for the final, as Jonnier explained: "It rained at night and in the morning, making it difficult to elect the adequate wheels. For the final, I opted for using tyres for dry conditions and to pray that it didn't rain, which is what occurred"