The 2018 Mercedes-Benz UCI World Cup Downhill series kicked off in Croatia over the weekend, debuting a new track on the island of Losinj, located 50 miles from the shores of Italy across the Adriatic Sea. The unrelenting terrain of Losinj turned the race into a battle of attrition, with a barrage of sharp, slippery rocks and large man-made jumps taking a toll on riders and gear.
The Giant Factory Off-Road Team had a mixed bag of results in Croatia. Seven-time Colombian national champion Marcelo Gutierrez got his World Cup campaign off to a solid start, finishing 16th on his Glory Advanced team bike. Unfortunately his teammate, current Irish national DH champion Jacob Dickson, suffered an injury from a training crash that prevented him from starting.
Gutierrez, fresh off a podium finish at Round 2 of the Enduro World Series earlier this month in Colombia, said he was hoping for a better result but was pleased with how he handled the difficult track with his new bike and gear including his Giant Shuttle DH shoes.
“The result definitely wasn’t what I was looking for, but I felt strong and capable of more,” Gutierrez said. “I loved the track, the place, the weather. A lot of people talked about how the track is too different and weird, but I just stayed in my zone, in a positive state of mind.”
During timed training, Dickson hit a rock that sent him over the bars, resulting in an injury to his left hand. X-rays revealed no broken bones, but he was unable to start. “It was sad to see Jacob out after we were on a good path,” Gutierrez said.
Dickson will have more than a month to recover before the next round of the DH World Cup, scheduled for June 2-3 in Fort William, Scotland.