Words by Flow | Images by Flowtographer

You could almost feel the weight of expectation resting on the mighty shoulders of reigning XCE World Champ Paul Van Der Ploeg this afternoon at the Cairns World Cup XCE. With his shoulder held together with bits of sticky tape and wire (well just about, he’s fresh back from shoulder surgery) the mighty Victorian was out-foxed in the final and grabbed bronze.

The drama of it all couldn’t have been more pronounced had George Lucas directed it; the rain rolled in right on cue for racing, turning the the race surface into a gloopy river that taunted riders to find traction, and the dark clouds sapped any light that dared seep into the rain forest. We’ll let the pictures tell the tale.

The one and only PVDP. Ever smiling, and with more Watts on tap than a Latrobe Valley power station.

The one and only PVDP. Ever smiling, and with more Watts on tap than a Latrobe Valley power station.

This is the start straight riders had to contend with. It's uphill too, of course.

This is the start straight riders had to contend with. It’s uphill too, of course.

Current XCE women's World Champ Alexandra Engen. While challenged in the quarter and semi final, she was leagues ahead in the final.

Current XCE women’s World Champ Alexandra Engen. While challenged in the quarter and semi final, she was leagues ahead in the final.

Cairns2014 XCE 5 (1)

SNAP! Powerful stuff from Engen off the start line.

Second from furthest, young Kiwi Sam Gaze was the event's dark horse.

Second from furthest, young Kiwi Sam Gaze was the event’s dark horse.

The slippery rainforest exit before the Rodeo Drop caused more than a few changes of lead. This crash gave young Sam Gaze a lucky break into the final.

The slippery rainforest exit before the Rodeo Drop caused more than a few changes of lead. This crash gave young Sam Gaze a lucky break into the final, letting him slip from third to second.

American Kate Courtney drops in… to our hearts.

American Kate Courtney drops in… to our hearts.

More start straight filth.

More start straight filth.

An Aussie and a Kiwi on ANZAC day.

An Aussie and a Kiwi on ANZAC day.

In the final, it was Daniel Fiederspiel and 18-year old Sam Gaze who had the horsepower, with PVDP in third, ahead of Swede Emil Lindgren.

In the final, it was Daniel Fiederspiel (far side) and 18-year old Sam Gaze  (middle) who had the horsepower, with PVDP in third, ahead of Swede Emil Lindgren.

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