here you go! When the UCI first announced their 2018 calander many World Cup riders and fans did a collective, “WTF?” Lošinj, Croatia? The small Croatian island had everyone hitting Google to find out actually where in the world it was and to see if any footage existed of this mystery track.
In the months following more and more POV footage emerged, the footage confirmed two things, it was short, and there were rocks, lots of rocks. Footage of epic beaches, sunsets and scooter shenanigans clogged Instagram leading up to the track walk last Thursday. It seemed that the island, the trail, and the locals had actually won people over. The track was not steep, but it was short. The fastest qualification time on Saturday was just 2:19:99!
Unless you’d been living under a rock you’d know that Connor has been testing our new carbon DH Operator. In Croatia, Connor had two bikes built up in both 27.5″ and 29″ configurations. After a swapping between the two on practice day and during timed training, Connor opted to run with smaller 27.5 wheels as he didn’t really get enough time on the rocky track to commit to racing them, especially while racing as an unprotected rider. “It’s short and rocky and the track actually rides better than everybody had thought after only seeing the footage online. There’s lots of lines to choose from and it’s really technical. Times are going to be really close as the track is only two and a half minutes long,” he said.
Connor was feeling confident after practice and, and like everyone else, he was eager to lay down some timed runs and land a solid qualification result. His wrist injury from the end of last season, as well as recent UCI changes, meant that he was not protected. A mechanical or flat in qualification would mean that he would not be racing on Sunday. Riding conservatively on such a brutal short track would not be an easy task. After Saturday’s qualifications though, Connor found himself in 23nd place.
“It was bit of a slow start for me this with qualis. I was really nervous for the run and not being protected meant that a flat tire or mechanical would see me out of the finals. I made a few mistakes which cost me, putting me pretty far back in the field at 23rd.”
On race day things didn’t go entirely to plan for Connor. The Lošinj track was not going to be kind to any mistake, no matter how small. The extremely physical nature and its short length meant even the smallest mistake would be costly. Connor would make a few in his run that would ultimately cost him a top 20 result and any kind of protected status for round 2 in Fort William in June. “Don’t really have any excuses, just a couple of small things adding up to be a few seconds back which meant a lot in positions unfortunately,” he said.