A question for every one of Minnaar's Ft Bill victories.
It’s not just the endless hand-wringing over wheel size that people are debating. There was loads of other controversial stuff from Ft Bill.
We do have to start with wheel size though. Sorry.
1. Are 29ers faster?
Remarkably this is still a valid question. Despite the big wheels’ dominance of the podium – and particular in qualifying – there are still plenty of question marks over the validity that big wheels are faster over everything. On a relatively shallow rockfest like Fort William it was hardly ever in doubt that 29ers would thrive. But what about on different courses? Next weekend’s race at the glorified pump track of Leogang is hardly going to play to any small wheel strengths. You don’t even need a chain to win at Leogang after all.
Which brings us on to what is arguably the Real Question…
2. Are World Cup DH tracks getting boring?
This whinge has been festering for a while now. Remember Ratboy’s retirement? There’s little doubt that in general the tracks are getting faster but does flat-out bike-park downhilling offer the same raw thrills as days of old? The opening rounds of this year’s World Cup series won’t help; Lourdes was a wash-out, Fort William is a shallow motorway and Leogang is groomed bike park. The World Champs being at Cairns is another mellow track.
3. Should that mucky new bit in the woods have been removed?
You know the bit we mean. That sticky, sucky bit on the Fort William track that had almost all the field tripoding or crashing down. It was a bit of a lottery to say the least. You could make an argument that it took some skill to get through it all without dabbing or crashing but for most racers – and race fans – it was a big negative of the weekend’s action. No one wants to see Danny Hart OTB on something like that. Not even Minnaar wants to see that.
4. Is Rachel Atherton still undefeated?
Like Claudio Caluori said a few times during the weekend, it seems that the only person who can defeat Rachel Atherton is Rachel Atherton. With all due respect to Tracey Hannah, there’s still no one who has defeated a Rachel Atherton race run for an awful long time.
5. Are derailleurs more reliable the gearboxes?
Who spotted Benoit Coulanges nearly stack it before he’d even left the start hut? It looked like something went awry with his belt-drive Effigear gearbox. To have something like that go wrong at such a prominent event must be a nightmare for gearbox proponents who had been slowly but successfully getting their message across about the benefits of gearbox designs.
6. Is Minnaar better than Vouilloz?
This is still too hard to answer. Minnaar’s career is undoubtedly more storied and arguably more varied than Vouilloz’s. But has Minnaar been in a totally different league to his contemporaries like Nico was? Is Minnaar the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time)? It entirely depends on what the judging categories are.
Is Minnaar the Master of Fort William? Undoubtedly.
7. Will eBay be flooded with 27.5″ DH bikes in September?
But the UCI are really going to have to have a word with the 2018 track design teams if they’re to stop the ever-growing disquiet that World Cup downhill racing is not what it used to be.