Welcome back to our regularly schedule World Cup coverage, we are coming to you live from Round 5 in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. This piste is still in its infancy regarding time on the circuit, but in its first year in 2015, it delivered in a serious way. On this wild and dusty track, last year we saw Greg Minnaar win his 18th Elite Men’s World Cup, becoming the greatest of all time; we saw Laurie Greenland win his first Juniors race, and Kenta Gallagher put himself on the radar with a 17th place qualifier. It was one helluva weekend!
Now, we are back this year, and the track is looking rugged as ever. Done is the dust and wheel-eating holes, but in their place are washboard braking bumps, very firm ruts, and a lot of widely taped corners (not that the changes are useful). Of note regarding the course though, the triple from last year that only three riders sent, is now more or less mandatory for any riding at pace – it’s going to be gnarly. We will see in practice how everyone gets on with the new conditions and slight variations.
Without further delay, here are the sights from Day 1, take a look, and stayed tuned for the action from Day 2!
Tom Lowis makes sure no one is intruding upon his work space - the Elite Team pits are a very serious place.
The track conditions are hardpack and hero dirt. Ruts pre-existing to aid in line selection, but watch for sneeky insides to develop thanks to some interesting taping.
Someone else caption this, because frankly, these views speak for themselves.
John Parkiin checks over his shouilder as he makes a break-away from the Commencalaton on the climb up the Col to Lunch.
“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect”
― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
Old Mate was well chuffed on this lunch-time catch of the day!
The mug says it all; it's just Day 1 Track Walk, and Tony Seagrave knows to let things simmer today.
Meal prep for the days ahead makes for a more seemless and easy week. Ruper Chapman knows how to keep himself fed.
Time-elapse for the boyz.
#witnessthelitness isn't always a recommened motto.
Sean Ambrose has an epic mustache, both seen here scoping out the rock garden at the top.
James Maltman gives the universal sign for "Send It" as Shambrose and his "stache line up a huck.
The SPS due of Becci Skelton and Jay Williams pitched in around the pits and filled up jerry cans for the super secret water-cooled hydrogen shocks they are testing...or they're just to keep the tent from flying away - who knows!
There are a few changes to the track this year. Most notable is this wonky wooden walkway in leu of the wild off-camber from last year.
After a few weeks off from World Cup racing, a few people are sporting new looks. Martin Clooney is wearing a new peppered beard and wind-blown hair.
What's your bet: Tinder or Snapchat? This jovial soldier takes a quick breather from strimming to swipe right.
As usual, the views here are amazing, and continue to stun.
It's good to see Innes Graham back on it in 2016 after writing himself off here last year, about 5 meters to his right from where this photo was taken.
After missing out on the last two rounds, Becci Skelton is back here in Switzerland and looking stoked.
It's an XC and DH round here at Lenzerheide, so there is plenty going on around the pits. With that said, this is a level of attention to detail I can't quite get into...it's dusty out there.
The UCI decided this year that improptu vehicle crossings during practice ought to be kept to a minimum. Just to be sure, Becci and Jay have a gander at the road gap.
Catch netting is lining the track this year like an alpine ski race, giving the impression of exceptional-speeds-to-come. The real question is: are they Rider or Squid catchers?
The work is never done at World Cup, and the finishing touches were being administered while riders took a stroll down the track.
Like an archeological dig site, the rocks here on the side of the track are hiding items that tell a tale from a time ago.
Lenzerheide has vertical, that is for sure.
Alex McAndrew is over from Vermont in the USA on a pention spot. He and I spent many years racing together back home, so it's cool to see him out here!
Cursive writing is fancy and fun, but neither of those words can be used to describe this gnarly section, which is looking worse for the wear in 2016.
Last year's dust has settled and left behind some wild exposure in the woods. Roots and ruts are the main attraction once under the canopy.
...Just in case you get distracted by the amazing scenery and forget where you are.
The track has been raked clear of loose debris (rocks mainly), which is a nice touch, but possibly an effort in futility nonetheless.
If you're a fan of bridges, Lenzerheide has then in spades; they criscross the track overhead, and are also several of the included man-made features on course.
The mega huck at the bottom of the track has been reduced in size, but it's still a solid leap for this year. Note: Trail crewman is not a perminant fixture for the feature.
Do ya like dags?
Yes, this is where the free wifi has the strongest signal, what gave that away?
How fast and dry is it here? Well, the rocks are polished and have a black glaze to them from all the tires that have come through.
From the finish area, you can see the bottom third of the track, which is a rather unique trait of this Swiss track.
We support this, and #gastoflat surely does too.
What stories will unfold here later this week?
A nice picnic by the lake is a great way to wind down from the day here in the mountains.
With a lot of time off since Leogang, everyone is ready to get on with racing here at Round 5 - Tony Seagrave shares his agreeance.
Different Old Mate was gazing out upon the serene scene of the still lake in the late-afternoon sun. Perhaps he was pondering whether or not he should run cut spikes or dry tires for tomorrow...