Gouveia in Portugal is recognised by many as the unofficial season opener for international downhill racing, and Trek World Racing riders Tracy Moseley (GBR) and Neko Mulally (USA) decided to use the event as an important ramp up to the start of the World Cup season next month. Tracy took the win in the Women's category, proudly wearing the rainbow jersey of the reigning World Champ, and Neko won the Juniors and also took 2nd place overall in Scratch.
The track in Gouveia is notorious for the high speed rocky sections throughout, and during the week it claimed many riders, bikes and wheels. Tracy crashed in training yesterday when she had a front wheel wash out and she landed heavily on a large boulder, destroying her new custom painted helmet, but other than some soreness, was good to go for racing today. Neko survived a spectacular high speed crash on his final training run, after misjudging a landing slightly, and landed hard and fast onto a large pointed rock, destroying the rear wheel and sending him over the handlebars in a cloud of dust. He too destroyed a brand new custom helmet, but walked away from the crash with little more than bruising and scraping.
In qualifying, Tracy had to pass two slower riders before setting a time of 3m 19.13secs, which she promptly bettered in the finals, posting a 3m 16.15secs and putting a margin of 18secs between herself and 2nd place. Shortly after the podium, Tracy was in a car on the way to the airport to connect with her flight tomorrow down to South Africa where she'll be racing in the Cape Epic for charity. www.worldbicyclerelief.org
Neko's qualifying run time of 2m 54.103secs put him nearly 10secs ahead of the next junior, but also into an impressive 2nd place overall, behind a flying Danny Hart (GBR). In the final Neko took more than 2.5secs off his time to consolidate the category win, and to take 2nd to Danny Hart in scratch, scoring big UCI points and a nice pay cheque.
Tracy said: "Job done. I came here wanting to get more comfortable on the DH bike after a long winter, and even though I did some sections better in practice than in the race, it felt good to be back on the bike in the sun! I've been coming here on and off for the past seven years, and it's always good to be on the top step here."
Neko said: "In qualifying I was caught up behind a slower rider that wouldn't move from the track. I had to pass him MX style, handlebar to handlebar at high speed, which was pretty fun, but cost me time. Danny was too fast for me here, but after improving in the final, I'm really happy to be where I am right now."
Next week Neko goes to Vigo for the International Vigo DH Contest, and next week also sees the Flueckiger Brothers in South Africa for the start of the Cape Epic.