With some of the elite riders opting to stay in Europe in preparation for the next World Cup, Round Three of the HSBC UK National Downhill Series was wide open.
It was anyone’s guess who would step up to the plate to take the honours on the Welsh track but Katy Curd and Adam Brayton chose to seize the day.
Having last hosted a National Series race back in 2010, more developments have been made to what is regarded by many as an exciting, old school course at Rheola.
It’s fast, loose and wild, with many riders unable to tame the Welsh beast and unfortunately quite a few feeling its bite over the weekend.
In the elite women’s race, it was Katy Curd all the way.
After two years out of the sport battling a long-term injury following a series of crashes, Curd was back where she belonged, the top step, dominating the entire weekend.
The racing behind Curd was a much closer affair, with just a handful of seconds separating the remaining podium positions.
Aston Tutt pulled out a corker of a run to grab second spot, with a five second gap on third-placed Becci Skelton.
Curd commented: "I Loved every minute of the weekend. Rheola is by far the best track in the UK and it has been great to get back there to race again.
“I had a perfect weekend trying to push myself and learn the limits on such an unforgiving track.
“It feels good to stand on the top step again taking the win, it’s been over two years since my last win so I’m mega-pleased with how my whole weekend went.”
High hope for Brayton
In the elite men’s seeding runs conditions were dry and dusty and South African Chris Philogene threw down the gauntlet to take top seed with a fast start.
Philogene narrowly nudged out Brazilian Douglas Vieira, with British rider Brayton easing down in third.
Philogene, however, had no match for Brayton in the race run, with the Hope rider playing it super-cool even as the race experienced heavy rain.
Brayton scrubbed nearly seven seconds from his seeding run to take the win, almost a second clear of Philogene, with Jay Williamson nudging out Vieira for third.
Brayton commented: "I’m Buzzing to take the win here at Rheola! It’s a proper old school downhill track which has you on your toes from top to bottom.
“The track ran super-fast all weekend, which caused a lot of incidents on course.
“I kept it quite chilled all weekend with Val Di Sole coming up but turned it on for my race run – I’m stoked to take the win which I’ll now take to Italy."
Top three of the elite women's race
Katy Curd (Specialized UK)
Aston Tutt (Madison Saracen Development Team)
Top three of the elite men's race
Adam Brayton (Hope Factory Racing)