Widely regarded as one of the nastiest and most testing tracks in the UK, Rheola in South Wales held the first round of this year’s British Cycling National Downhill Series. The story of the weekend? Rain, more rain, mud, treacherous conditions, more rain, more mud and lots of red flags and course holds. In fact there were so many red flags and delays that on Sunday the race couldn’t actually go ahead, the race organisers having to resort to Saturday's seeding runs to come up with the final results. Not a perfect situation, but what can you do!? 
With the first World Cup of the year in Fort William just around the corner (May 4-5th) this race acted as a ‘shakedown’ for the newly formed 2024 INTENSE Factory Racing (IFR) team. It was also the first time that the production M1 had been raced in the northern hemisphere. With Lou Ferguson and Ryder Lawerence both travelling to the UK from overseas, and junior Oscar Griffiths not quite race ready, it was all down to Joe Breeden and team manager Olly Morris to fly the IFR flag. 
The tricky conditions and multiple delays made it hard for riders to really gauge their race speed and hone their race craft, but this is what racing is like, you have to take on the conditions and get on with it. Of course no one was expecting their seeding run to count as their final result, but it just goes to show that you have to be ready for every eventuality. Joe’s second place finish in Elite was a great start to his season. 
“An encouraging weekend and I’m happy with my speed with a smooth run. The result has given me loads of confidence in our set up. I’m stoked on how everything is coming together and I’m ready for our first World Cup when we are all together in Fort William.” Joe Breeden 

Team Manager Olly Morris was really at the race in a support role, but Olly is no slouch… and he just couldn’t help himself! He zip tied on his number plate and took first place in the Veteran category (by almost 25 seconds). 
“In sport you need to get into a position that when your performance isn't 100%, you still deliver a result. That is exactly what Joe did this weekend. He would admit his run wasn't his finest, so to be second behind the World Champ (Charlie Hatton) on an ‘average’ run, shows clear evidence of the speed we believe Joe has been showing through the winter.” 
Olly Morris