It is only March, but CFR’s mountain bike travel season has already hit full swing. With a good portion of the team in South Africa contesting the first World Cup and chasing valuable points in the quest for Olympic qualification, Tinker Juarez and Alex Grant took on their own adventure to the southern hemisphere.
They were off to Chile to race the Copa Quaker Cannondale in Nevados de Chillan, Chile. They were invited by Intercycles (Cannondale Chile) to come compete in one of the most important cross-country races in South America. All of the top Chileans, Brazilians, and Argentineans were there, along with one of the top ranked Colombian riders. The competition was stiff and the course was great- a 5.5 km lap of some great raw mountain biking.
It can be challenging to fly across the world and adjust to the local surroundings, and even more so to maintain good race fitness. The guys at Intercycles made sure this was not an issue and once Tinker and Alex were off the plane they took care of their every need. After a day of sampling the local trails and visiting the Intercycles shop for an autograph signing and some photos with Tinker, it was off to the race site.
The race: One thing is for sure; mountain bike racing is strong in Chile! The Copa Quaker Cannondale was as professionally run as any race and included two days of cross country and downhill racing, tons of spectators and press, and even a catered awards party with a live band to boot.
As for the racing itself, Alex and Tinker were right in the mix but in the end came up a little short of the podium. Alex had a great start and was riding inside the top 5 with the eventual 3rd place finisher at the mid-point of the race when he cut his tire on a sharp volcanic rock. After repairing the flat with a tube he chased his way back to 7th place only to flat again on the last lap. Despite the bad luck, he was smiling at the finish after some good hard racing.
Tinker showed his experience and rode a consistent and smart race and picked guys off throughout, moving up to 7th! Alex ended up 9th after running a few kilometers to the finish.
All in all it was a great trip and Tinker and Alex were impressed with both the riders and the trails in Chile.