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.
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
Video: Course Preview with Marcelo Gutierrez
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.
- Marine CABIROU (FRA) 4:25.790
- Tracey HANNAH (AUS) +11.776
- Camille BALANCHE (SUI) +18.324
- Veronika WIDMANN (ITA) +20.522
- Emilie SIEGENTHALER (SUI) +26.593
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.
- Laurie GREENLAND (GBR) 3:37.819
- Loic BRUNI (FRA) +2.854
- Loris VERGIER (FRA) +4.882
- Amaury PIERRON (FRA) +5.167
- Danny HART (GBR) +6.849
- David TRUMMER (AUT) +6.923
- Greg MINNAAR (RSA) +7.170
- Remi THIRION (FRA) +7.318
- Baptiste PIERRON (FRA) +7.651
- Troy BROSNAN (AUS) +8.021
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Tracey HANNAH (AUS) 1 250 points
- Marine CABIROU (FRA) 1 080
- Nina HOFFMANN (GER) 739
- Rachel ATHERTON (GBR) 730
- Veronika WIDMANN (ITA) 669
- Loic BRUNI (FRA) 1 132 points
- Amaury PIERRON (FRA) 1 000
- Troy BROSNAN (AUS) 939
- Loris VERGIER (FRA) 754
- Danny HART (GBR) 723
- Laurie GREENLAND (GBR) 636
- Greg MINNAAR (RSA) 596
- Brook MACDONALD (NZL) 446
- Mark WALLACE (CAN) 419
- David TRUMMER (AUT) 407
NEXT UP: Round 7, Lenzerheide, Switzerland 9 – 11 August
With thanks Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull, UCI and Shimano SA / Coolheat.