September 16th, 2012

Neko Mulally On Top Ten Pace at World Cup Finals

As the sole competitor racing for Trek World Racing at the World Cup finals here in Hafjell, Norway, Neko Mulally showed great pace in both qualifying and the final race to demonstrate he’s fully recovered from the injuries suffered earlier in the season. Unfortunately a hand injury sustained in practice forced Aaron Gwin out of the event. It was the same hand and injury location as that suffered in Val d’Isere at Round 6, but this time the bone was heavily bruised. Team mate Justin Leov was unable to attend the finals due to the unexpected loss of his best friend James Dodds, a pioneer in New Zealand mountain biking who was being remembered by many of the Kiwi riders here this weekend.

From the first training session Neko knew that this was a course he was going to enjoy. The Bike Park here had created a track with a great mix of speed and technical rock gardens that Neko got the hang of from the very beginning. Every training run ended with a beaming smile from the Pennsylvanian. In qualifying, Neko finished 15th a career best, despite making an error in lower half the course. His split would have him in 8th.

In the final Neko had the top section nailed and was just 0.05secs off the lead, and would ultimately be the 9th fastest at the 1st split and 9th fastest in the speed trap. Unfortunately a snapped gear cable had him in the hardest gear for the second half of the track and he lost about 1.5 seconds to ultimately finish 19th.

Neko said: “I never thought I’d be disappointed with a top 20 at a World Cup, especially after the injuries this season, but you know what, I am. I worked really hard for this result and to have it end with something I couldn’t control is pretty hard to take. What I will take away from this is the pace I was running. I was on for a top 10 and I know I can go into the off season feeling confident I’ve got a lot more to give. It was odd in some way not having my teammates racing with me today, but on the other hand, it’s almost like a childhood dream coming true to know that the greatest team in the world is here to support me and that I was the focus of the weekend. I am extremely proud to be carrying the flag for the team this weekend.”

Meanwhile, Aaron Gwin was on hand to walk up onto the podium for the Overall World Cup presentation, and for the second year in a row, take the top step. The final winning margin over Greg Minnaar (RSA) was 98 points.

Aaron said, “I would have loved to race this final round. The track is sick and I wanted to take this black beast of a bike onto the top step. Unfortunately I hurt the hand again and instead of rolling down the hill and disappointing myself and the fans, I opted to start resting it and to finally get this hand healed 100%.”

The special custom black Session 9.9 that Aaron rode here in celebration of his World Cup title win is heading to Las Vegas to form part of a special display at the Shimano stand.

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