Sunday Jun 08, 2014

Stevie Smith has 'no excuses' on return to World Cup racing

Downhill World Cup title holder Stevie Smith is ready and raring to go ahead of his first race of the season and admitts he has no excuses despite missing the opening two rounds of the season with an ankle injury.

The Canadian topped the overall standings in 2013 after an epic battle with Gee Atherton during the second half of the season - but could not come back to defend his title in the first two races of 2014 thanks to a broken ankle he sustained in training.

However, after taking time to recover Smith is now fully fit and arrived in Fort William hoping to pick up where he left off and get back where he belongs - on the podium.

The Devinci Global Racing rider started yesterday's qualifiers in 81st position having earned no points yet this year but showed he is back to his best with a solid run that put him in seventh overall.

I feel like I’m just as good as ever, with no excuses

And while Smith is delighted to be back in the pits of a World Cup race he insists that the only thing on his mind his winning on his return to the big stage.

"It’s been way too long for me to not be racing since September, so I’m excited to be here," he said. "The ankle is back and I’m good.

"I could have rushed it maybe and gone to Australia but it was worth it to recover properly and come here feeling great with no excuses.

“I feel like I’m just as good as ever. I’ve done everything right and I just feel great so I’m going out with the same mind set as always. I’m not really in contention for the overall so I just want to race as good as I can in every race – just like I always do."

 Stevie Smith celebrates after winning the 2013 World Cup title 

It has been a crazy downhill season so far with Aaron Gwin winning the opening race in South Africa and Gee Atherton surviving heavy rain in Cairns to win round 2.

Smith admitts it was difficult to watch the races as a spectator, especially as he was looking for redemption in South Africa after a tough run there last year.

However, despite knowing it would make defending his title almost impossible, he inisists deciding to skip the opening races was not such a challenging situation.

Fort William rules. Theres a ton of people every year and I'm looking forward to it

“Knowing I was missing the first race 100% made the decision easy for the second one," he added. "I could come back and do badly and maybe wreck my brain for the other races or I could come back and be back where I was.

"Initially finding out was a massive let down because all winter was put towards that first race but injuries are bound to happen in this sport and you have to deal with it.

"Fort William rules. There's a ton of people every year and I'm looking forward to it. There's a lot of fast racing here."

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