The Santa Cruz Syndicate's Greg Minnaar finished with a solid third place this past weekend on the rain-soaked streets of Lisbon, Portugal, as the city put on the 12th edition of its famed urban downhill race. Minnaar's teammate, reigning downhill world champion Steve Peat, came into the race as the favorite, having won the event for eight straight years. Unfortunately for Peaty, the slippery conditions got the best of him and he crashed hard into a rock wall, ending his chances for a ninth title. Minnaar rode the track more conservatively, yet quick enough to land him on yet another world-class podium. Apparently, slow for Greg is still really freakin' fast. Peaty was not hurt. Much.
Despite the team's great result, the real story here is the race itself. For those of you not familiar with the event, pack your bags and book your flight to Lisbon right now, as it just may be the coolest and most unique cycling event in the world. The race begins at the Castle of SÃ£o Jorge, a medieval citadel that sits high atop the historic Portuguese capital. After winding their way around the castle, the riders plummet down a hay bale-lined course through the twisty, cobbled streets of Alfama, the city's oldest district. Using stairways, super-tight alleyways, sidewalks and a few man-made obstacles, the race eventually makes its way down to Largo Terreiro in Lisbon's vibrant financial district. The course is lined with thousands of boisterous fans and the whole scene is one of mayhem and general debauchery. And, since this is Europe, the fun doesn't stop when the race ends, as the party goes on until the sun comes up with the racers mixing with the fans in true downhill style. If you want some visual proof of just how amazing this race is, watch this Portuguese rider rip it up in last year's edition below. Awesome footage, and some nice Portuguese commentary, to boot.
So, reserve your flight now, because once all six people who read this post decide to go, the one plane that might get through the volcano dust next year will get booked up fast. Get your Fado on.
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- Mountain Biking