Val Di Sole DH World Cup Recap | Presented by SHIMANO

After a three week break from World Cup racing the circus returned to the formidable Val di Sole track in Italy for round six of the 2019 series. One of the most feared tracks on the circuit, Val di Sole commands respect from all the riders – even the cream of the crop.

Brook Macdonald performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Brook Macdonald carves an inside line on the final left- hander known as the Sam Hill turn.

THE TRACK

Based in the North of Italy, in the Dolomites, the Val di Sole track is 2.1km long with a 540m drop in elevation. The average steepness of the track is an incredible 23%. The track is littered with roots, boulders and braking bumps and is treacherous in the best of conditions – in the wet, it’s nearly impossible to ride down – let alone race. It is celebrated as being an all natural track with very few man-made features. This year the track was marked a little wider which gave the riders more lines to choose from.

Video: Course Preview with Marcelo Gutierrez



WOMEN’S RACE

In the WOMEN’S RACE Swiss rider Camille Balanche was the first of the elite women to really scythe her way convincingly through the woods and emerge into the famous final section with a time which looked like it would take a lot of beating. Nina Hoffmann, the sensation of 2019, had a huge crash amidst the trees as did Veronika Widmann who would somehow recover to a fourth-place finish. Balanche clung on to third but it was the young Frenchwoman, Cabirou, currently second in the world who would attack the most from top to bottom which sent her into the hot seat. Tracey Hannah, the series leader was last to start and was precise and controlled on her way to a second position which she admitted that she was happy with.

RESULTS:

  1. Marine CABIROU (FRA) 4:25.790
  2. Tracey HANNAH (AUS) +11.776
  3. Camille BALANCHE (SUI) +18.324
  4. Veronika WIDMANN (ITA) +20.522
  5. Emilie SIEGENTHALER (SUI) +26.593
Emilie Siegenthaler performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
5th placed Emilie Siegenthaler floats over the giant roots that litter the Val di Sole track.
Veronika Widmann performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Italian star Veronika Widmann let it roll in finals. Hucking all the big lines she was up at the splits until the front wheel washed out. She ended the day in 4th.
Camille Balanche performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Camille Balanche rode a clean, composed race and claimed a career-best 3rd position.
Tracey Hannah performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Tracey Hannah carried good speed but perhaps the pressure of being the points leader kept her from really letting it roll. 2nd on the day was not what she wanted but with a win in quali she leaves Val di Sole with a healthy portion of points.
Marine Cabirou performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
22 year old Marine Cabirou absolutely smashed it to finish 11 seconds up on Hannah and claim her first World Cup victory. What a way to take your first victory.
Competitors stand on the podium at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019 /
Podium from left to right: Widmann, Hannah, Cabirou, Balanche and Siegenthaler.
Competitors seen at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Marine Cabirou deservedly receives a triple dose of podium champagne after a ride that was simply magnificent.


MEN’S RACE

In the ELITE MEN’S RACE, the hot seat was briefly held by the Austrian David Trummer who produced another spectacular run in a season which only seems to be getting better and better for him. Loris Vergier seemed to forge ultra-fast straight lines where others were being bounced around and forced into errors. His time was good enough for the hot seat but was instantly under pressure when his Santa Cruz Syndicate teammate, Greg Minnaar, began turning the splits green. It wasn’t to last for the South African however when he had a relatively slow but costly crash. France’s Loïc Bruni took to the hot seat. The series leader shrugged and hinted that he didn’t think that he’d done enough. Vergier’s run would stand up for a third-place but it was Britain’s Laurie Greenland who pipped Bruni’s by a sizeable 4.88 seconds to move into the hot seat. Amaury Pierron was up at the first split but soon started losing time to the Brit. He admitted after the race that he had struggled with his bike set up amidst the changing conditions. The crowd went wild for Greenland as he scooped his first-ever UCI World Cup win.

RESULTS:

  1. Laurie GREENLAND (GBR) 3:37.819
  2. Loic BRUNI (FRA) +2.854
  3. Loris VERGIER (FRA) +4.882
  4. Amaury PIERRON (FRA) +5.167
  5. Danny HART (GBR) +6.849
  6. David TRUMMER (AUT) +6.923
  7. Greg MINNAAR (RSA) +7.170
  8. Remi THIRION (FRA) +7.318
  9. Baptiste PIERRON (FRA) +7.651
  10. Troy BROSNAN (AUS) +8.021

Johannes von Klebersberg performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Johannes von Klebersberg aka The Denim Destroyer dropped in for a 13th place finish and is surely set to move into a pro team for 2020.
Gee Atherton performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Atherton rode a 29″ / 27.5″ prototype setup this weekend and had some good speed and fast sectors to place 18th.

Up at the splits until the front end pinged off a rock causing Greg Minnaar to crash. He quickly mounted to end the day in 7th, only 7 seconds down. There are no ‘if only’s’ in racing but one thing is for sure – if you look closely at the time lost in that crash it’s almost certain Greg would have finished 3rd or higher.

A rear flat had Danny Hart nursing his bike down the last quarter of the track on a run which was insanely quick. Nobody is owed anything in this sport but if Danny keeps this sort of speed there are surely more big results coming.
Amaury Pierron performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Amaury Pierron said he lacked rhythm and battled with bike setup in the changing conditions. Whilst he conceded points to Loic today his 4th position keeps him in the running to defend his title.
Loris Vergier performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Tactically brilliant, technically on a level that only a handful can relate to, Vergier charged in with a smooth run, briefly occupied the hot seat and then ended the day in 3rd.
Loic Bruni performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Riding for points Bruni secured 2nd on the day and extended his overall lead. Job well done.
Laurie Greenland performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
A win has been on the cards for Laurie Greenland for some time now and it’s unlikely this kid will be a one-hit-wonder. Laurie is one of the few riders that made the treacherous Val di Sole track look easy. He kept flowing, looing ahead and floated down for an incredible win.
Laurie Greenland celebrates at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019
Greenland celebrates.


THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY

THE GOOD: Brook Macdonald and Amaury Pierron who were the best of the best in the rained out qualifying with their respective 5th and 6th places. Those were both incredible runs. Cabirou and Greenland were untouchable in finals, incredible riding on a technical track which rewards those who can roll the dice and stay upright.

THE BAD: Sam Blenkinsop who never made it into the finals after a crash in qualifying. Riders not preparing for the vision issues which rain brings – why don’t they use visor extenders?

THE UGLY: Greg Minnaar, – up in his run, clearly on a potential race winning run, then cross ruts a rock and is pushed off track. It’s just to ugly to see, speak or think of.



TECHNICAL ANALYSIS

  1. Is the all 27.5″ wheel sized DH bike a thing of the past? The mullet 27.5″ rear and 29″ front bikes won both the men’s and women’s race. Within the top 10 men there were no 27.5″ wheeled bikes – the count was 5 all 29″ and 5 mullets.
  2. More and more teams are using weights on their wheels to balance them – just like on motorcycle and car wheels. A more evenly balanced wheel means a smoother ride, with balanced suspension and ride dynamics.
  3. There were some big time gaps between the riders but overall those gaps are tighter than previously at Val di Sole. The top riders have all raised their game and the racing is closer than ever. There are at least 15 riders who can win the Mens race on any given weekend. Downhill racing has never been this wide open.


OVERALL RANKINGS after round 5

ELITE WOMEN

  1. Tracey HANNAH (AUS) 1 250 points
  2. Marine CABIROU (FRA) 1 080
  3. Nina HOFFMANN (GER) 739
  4. Rachel ATHERTON (GBR) 730
  5. Veronika WIDMANN (ITA) 669

ELITE MEN

  1. Loic BRUNI (FRA) 1 132 points
  2. Amaury PIERRON (FRA) 1 000
  3. Troy BROSNAN (AUS) 939
  4. Loris VERGIER (FRA) 754
  5. Danny HART (GBR) 723
  6. Laurie GREENLAND (GBR) 636
  7. Greg MINNAAR (RSA) 596
  8. Brook MACDONALD (NZL) 446
  9. Mark WALLACE (CAN) 419
  10. David TRUMMER (AUT) 407



NEXT UP: Round 7, Lenzerheide, Switzerland 9 – 11 August

Marine Cabirou performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy on August 3rd, 2019

With thanks Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull, UCI and Shimano SA / Coolheat.


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