With the race in Tokyo as his last chance to make up for what he admitted to us has been “a terrible season,” Zach McDonald (Rapha Focus) took off at the start of the race and never looked back.
The sun came out to melt some of the record snow that fell on Saturday, and created a slick, muddy course which was in stark contrast to last year’s massive sand test that drew 13,000 fans.
Notably missing from the pack included Ryan Trebon, who is recovering from his injury at Worlds, last year’s winner Jeremy Powers, who stayed in Europe to race, and Tim Johnson, who was in Tokyo and hoping to race but his injuries at Worlds proved too much.
McDonald appeared at ease in the muddy conditions, and stormed the course, grabbing trees with his gloveless hands to catapult himself around slippery corners.
2013 Japanese National Champion Yu Takenouchi and Barry Wicks (Kona) gave chase.
By the end of the second lap, McDonald had almost 30 seconds on Takenouchi, then another 15 on Barry Wicks.
Spectators flocked to the course, set in downtown Tokyo, some with intention to watch the racing, others just to see what the heck was going on. McDonald quickly began to lap the back-of-the pack racers, with Takenouchi sitting solidly in second as Barry Wicks chased him down.
A chain issue hurt Wicks’ charge, and Australian Lewis Rattray began to work his way up through the group. Takenouchi managed to stay in second, however, and Wicks held on to third. (Results are tentative until official timing is in.)
Check out the women’s report here, and stay tuned for a full report and results.