After a long off-season, the Monster Energy/Specialized riders were podium hungry landing three spots on the box at the first round of the UCI World Cup Downhill Series held this past weekend in Maribor, Slovenia.
The course in Maribor is usually fast and rough, but after two days of solid rain it was slippery, filled with massive ruts and roots that were catching riders and throwing them all over the track. More than one rider got thrown over the bars due to the conditions, where even tire mud spikes were packed solid by the time they reached the bottom.
Saturday saw both Monster Energy/Specialized’s Sam Hill and Brendan Fairclough qualify 1st and 2nd, respectively, while teammate Troy Brosnan qualified for the Sunday finals in his first ever World Cup try.
During Sunday’s final the top team rider on the weekend was Fairclough, who slid his way into 3rd place, and only 1.82 seconds off the leader’s time. Fairclough had a couple of moments in the woods, as well as an unexpected second sighting of his lunch mid-run, while also managing to avoid catastrophe narrowly missing a tree exiting the rock garden.
Said Fairclough: “I can’t complain, you know? It was just so hard, rough, and tough. It was gnarly and pretty adventurous to say the least! I had a few moments, but I think everyone did. I went off the track pretty badly in one spot and lost a bit of time, and then I was sick in my helmet. It was pretty bad. But hey, I’m in one piece and in third, so it’s great.”
Teammate Hill took 5th following a crash in the lower woods section while trying to remove a tear off after setting the pace up top, leading by almost 1.5 seconds.
“My run was going pretty good until about halfway, where I made a silly mistake removing a tear off too late entering a corner and went too hot into the turn causing me to slide out and land on my head into the bushes,” said Hill. I was debating whether to take off a tear off or not before the second half of the track and it seemed like an easy spot to do it, but I should have done it earlier. I’m just pretty devastated about making such a small mistake leading to another crash. I had a great run going, it was just more annoying because it was a silly mistake. With my 5th place and 1st place qualifier, I still managed to come away with some decent points on the weekend.”
Newest team member, Brosnan, finished in 48th in his first ever World Cup. With the result Brosnan takes control of the Junior World Cup leader’s jersey.
“I can’t believe it, first junior - all I wanted to do was qualify,” he said. “To do that and get first junior is more than I could ever ask for. My Specialized Demo 8 is kitted out so perfect it felt like home. I had a fun weekend and can’t wait to race the next round in Ft William and see how it goes!”
The team now heads to the U.S. Open of MTB at Mountain Creek, N.J., before resuming the World Cup in Europe in Fort William, Scotland, at the beginning of June.