By Ryan Newill, VeloNews Correspondent
Steve Peat (GT) followed through on the promise he showed in the morning downhill practice session at the NORBA National in Snowshoe, West Virginia, where he recorded the course record of 4:55. On the money run, the British World Cup contender shattered that mark by 13 seconds and took the downhill victory in sloppy conditions on Sunday.
After a hard winter of training, Peat seems on his way to a dream season. “I just feel like I’m riding so well, the bike’s just perfect, and the team is just one big family.” Unfortunately, it was a scattered family this weekend, as many of the GT family ran into weather problems at the Denver airport.
On the technical course, no rider was immune from the slips and tree swipes that resulted from slick mud in tight singletrack sections. However, Peat needed only to be more immune to them than everyone else, and Peat reported “only a few bobbles” as opposed to the catastrophic crashes of other strong men, such as Chris Kovarik (Intense-Fox), who went over the bars in the particularly wet “waterfall” section of the course, and lost control again just over the finish line. Even with his troubles, Kovarik posted the fifth fastest time on the day, and was forced into a “what might have been” result.
The course seemed to become progressively faster as the runs continued, with the leader’s hot seat changing hands several times as the last several competitors completed the course. Schwinn rider Michael Deldycke, third place in the dual slalom, held the top spot early on, before being unseated by Andrew Shandro, who is returning to gravity competition after taking a break as a freerider. Shandro would end up with his first podium seat in quite some time, but it would end up as a fourth spot. He was quickly unseated by Nathan Rankin and Jared Rando, both of the Foes-Azonic squad and on their ways to their biggest results so far.
It may have been predictable that Peat won the downhill. In fact, according to Brian Lopes, “It’s not a matter of who wins, but by how much.” The same could have been said for the winner of the women’s race, as Missy “the Missile” Giove took her first victory of the season, praising the tough but unpredictable course. After a disappointing, but nevertheless spectacular, performance in the dual slalom on Saturday, Giove topped the women’s field by posting a 5:43. Leigh Donovan, hot from a victory in the dual yesterday, just narrowly lost her shot at the double titles on the weekend, finishing just 43/100ths of a second behind Giove.
While Giove and Donovan can doubtlessly be called the hardened veterans of the downhill, April Lawyer (Maxxis) may be the newest threat to their podium dominance. She took third on the tough, eastern-style Snowshoe course just five seconds behind Giove to follow up a fantastic performance at her home course at Snow Summit, where she took the fifth.
With her victory on Sunday, Giove assumes the lead in the downhill series.
Pro Men’s Downhill
1. Steve Peat, GT, 4:42:95
2. Nathan Rankin, Foes-Azonic, 4:50:72
3. Jared Rando, Foes-Azonic, 4:52:71
4. Andrew Shandro, Ford-Devinci, 4:57:04
5. Chris Kovarik, Intense-Foes, 4:58:00
6. John Kirkcaldie, Maxxis Tires, 4:58:90
7. Michael Deldycke, Schwinn, 4:59:30
8. Colin Bailey, Maxxis Tires, 4:59:62
9. Todd Leduc, Foes-Azonic, 4:59:89
10. Shaums March, ChumbaWumba, 5:00:33
Pro Women Downhill
1. Missy Giove, Global Racing, 5:53:70
2. Leigh Donovan, Schwinn, 5:54:12
3. April Lawyer, Maxxis Tires, 5:59:11
4. Marla Streb, 6:02:06
5. Danni Connolly, Karpiel, 6:26:87
6. Elke Brutsaert, Schwinn, 6:27;39
7. Sheryl MacLeod, Privateer, 7:08:29
8. Aleisha Cline, ChumbaWumba, 7:09:05
9. Kathy Pruitt, Dirt Works, 7:11:26
10. Tara Llanes, Yeti-Pearl Izumi, 7:47:48