The downhill mountain biking season is well and truly underway, and with it comes the return of behind-the-scenes antics from everyone’s favourite riders – the Santa Cruz Syndicate team.
It’s been an injury-plagued recent past for Greg Minnaar, Steve Peat and last year’s overall champ Josh “Ratboy" Bryceland, who destroyed his own left foot on the final stretch of the 2014 World Championships in Hajfell.
Episode one of ‘The Syndicate’ takes us through all of that and more, showing in graphic detail the work done on Ratboy’s foot and Greg’s thumb following a tendon tear in New Zealand for the South African.
If you’re squeamish or have a problem watching surgeons poking their tools around someone's body, it's probably best to have a bucket on hand for this one.
After all the talk and time on the cutting tables though, all roads led to Lourdes and the start of Bryceland’s defence of the World Cup overall title - and when all was said and done, it was a good weekend for the Syndicate team.
There were bound to be plenty of questions over Ratboy’s health, and you’ll have seen in the feature above how hard he had to work to get back to full fitness in time for the event.
“I think if I had been NHSing it, there’s not a chance I’d be here today," the rider admits. It certainly looks like he put in a shift, and a seventh place finish on the day was a just reward for his efforts.
It’s impressive that he was riding in the event at all given the severity of his injury picked up last September.
While the Rat was fighting fit for Lourdes though, his teammate Minnaar was anything but. Having had recent surgery for a torn ligament, he had to strap his hand to his handlebars for the whole of the weekend to get through the showcase despite his torn thumb.
The fact that Greg finished 22nd is surely a credit to not only the former World Cup winner’s talents, but also to the fact that he’s got balls as big as any of those rocks out there orbiting the sun.
It’s been a frustrating few months for Peaty, meanwhile. The MTB legend is working through an ACL injury and has yet to race this term, but all round it’s been a promising start for the Syndicate boys.
Given Bryceland’s form last season and the fact that Minnaar was racing with an injury as well, there’s surely a whole lot more still to come.