Dan Atherton started the weekend’s racing at Riva del Garda in style, taking the Friday night prologue ahead of Joe Barnes and Rene Wildhaber. The BMX style track suited him down to the ground and was a fun start to the European season. Dan said “it felt like being 12 years old again.”
Once the prologue was done a huge thunderstorm that had threatened the festival for days broke over Riva del Garda. It looked like the torrential rain might cause problems for Saturday’s race but in the event only stage 1 was adversely affected.
The race kicked off with a long climb to set up three downhill stages. All of the tracks were very natural, maintenance is kept to a minimum so they remain rough and rocky. Dan said “Stage 1 was pretty slippy, Joe Barnes put in an amazing run to take the stage win.”
By Stage 2 the sun was out and warming everything up, to everybody’s relief. Stage 3 was probably the most technical stage of the day, Dan said “It would be really easy to overcook it and blow off line, I rode it too reserved which was the story of the day – I always forget just how fast these guys are and hold it back too much.”
Stage 5 was great fun for many of the riders, probably the steepest stage on the course with lots of loose rocks. Dan said “It was pretty full on”. Then Stage 6 down to the finish was the most pedally of all the stages and Dan’s fitness showed through, allowing him to grab the stage 2nd. Summing up the weekend he said “It felt amazing to start racing again – I’ve really missed those pre-race nerves. This winter’s fitness training has obviously paid off for me, I just need a bit more time on the bike, to focus on the technical.”
1 BAREL, Fabien Canyon Factory Enduro Team
2 CLEMENTZ, Jerome Cannondale + 00:08,46
3 LAU, Nicolas Cube Action Team + 00:16,92
4 ATHERTON, Dan GT Factory Racing + 00:40,55
5 BRÜCKNER, Petrik Rose Vaujany MTB Pro Team + 00:43,46
Next week Dan will travel to Metabief.
All Photos: Victor Lucas