DH World Cup Rd 5 – Vallnord – Preview & how to watch

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All photos credit Red Bull Content Pool

Loic Bruni putting 3 seconds into Vergier by the first split in 2019

The last time the DH World Cup visited Andorra was in 2019 and that race is probably the one we talk about most on the podcast. With just Amaury Pierron, Troy Brosnan and Loic Bruni remaining at the top of the hill, Loris Vergier laid down a storming run. His 4:11.478 was 5 seconds quicker than Danny Hart, who he knocked out of the hotseat. That’s that then, we all thought. Unlike the vast majority of venues though, the pits in Andorra are at the top of the hill and because of this there was a PA system relaying the race. Loris’ time came through the PA and Loic Bruni heard it. Knowing he was going to have to produce something special to beat it, Bruni went hell for leather and was 3 seconds up on Vergier at the first split. He held on to that lead but by the time he crossed the line his advantage was down to just 0.4. Hopefully, this weekend’s race is half as exciting. 

You can relive that and Rachel Atherton’s 2019 winning race run here:

Why am I talking in such detail about a race that happened three years ago? Well, if I was to simply pen everything I know about the race this weekend it would be a very short preview. The team at the Vallnord Bike Park have developed a new track for the World Cup and there’s only been one race on it so far, the Copa Catalana the week after the Leogang World Cup. Pau Menoyo Busquets took the win in the Men’s with Loris Vergier second and Hugo Frixtalon in third and Myriam Nicole took the win in the Women’s race, although there was no one else of her class in the field.

The old track was a classic – Finn Iles getting rowdy

From what we’ve seen the track looks quite ‘bike parky’ at the top with a lot of berms and jumps. Then it gets steep and rough. It’s on the other side of the hill to the old track and it looks like it’s considerably shorter. Pau’s winning time was 2:48, Bruni’s winning run in 2019 was 4:11.

The track might have changed but expect more of this…

On the latest episode of the podcast, Camille Balanche told us that Myriam had serious concerns about the wind on some of the jumps at the top and they assured her that would all be fixed in time for the World Cup so we’ll have to see.

Neko Mulally’s helmet cam from the Copa Catalana is here: 

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A post shared by Neko Mulally (@nekomulally)

Personal opinion: It’s always good to see new tracks but the old track was a classic and as it hadn’t been raced for 3 years it might’ve been good to give it one final hurrah. 

Remi Thirion produced one of the all time great runs here on the old track, taking victory in 2013

One rider who won’t be competing this weekend is Luca Shaw who broke wrist in his crash in Lenzerheide.

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A post shared by Luca Shaw (@luca_shaw)

Neither will Remi Thirion who’s still recovering from a broken arm. The Frenchman took completely different lines to everyone else in a classic win here in 2013

One thing we can talk about are the overall standings as we’re at the halfway point in the World Cup season.

Elite Men

  • Amaury Pierron 830
  • Matt Walker 556
  • Benoit Coulanges 515
  • Finn Iles 501
  • Danny Hart 466

Another victory this weekend and surely the title will go to Amaury Pierron. With 3 wins from 4 races it’s the most dominant performance we’ve seen in the men’s category since Aaron Gwin in 2017. It’s great to see a ‘new’ Top 5 forming. In come Walker, Coulanges and Iles and out go Brosnan, Minnaar and Vergier. Bruni you’d have to say would probably still be in there if it wasn’t for his broken collarbone. Thibaut Daprela is having a ‘difficult second season’ but watch out for him this weekend with it being Commencal’s home race.

Men’s Podium 2019 (l-r Amaury Pierron, Loris Vergier, Loic Bruni, troy Brosnan, Danny Hart)

Elite Women

  • Camille Balanche 895
  • Myriam Nicole 795
  • Vali Hoell 586
  • Eleonora Farina 560
  • Monika Hrastnik 384

It’s a two-horse race and it’s hard to pick a favourite. Cami with the points and the consistency or Myriam with the experience and the raw speed? Expect Myriam to set the pace this weekend with Camille furiously chasing her down. Vali is on the same pace but keeps making mistakes. Once she cuts those out she’ll start taking wins.

Women’s Podium 2019 (l-r Emilie Siegenthaler, Marine Cabirou, Rachel Atherton, Tracey Hannah, Eleonora Farina)

Junior Men

  • Jackson Goldstone 220
  • Jordan Williams 210
  • Lachlan Stevens-McNab 165
  • Remy Meier-Smith 158
  • Henri Kiefer 131

Five years ago, there was an epic Junior battle between a Canadian child prodigy and a Brit riding for Madison Saracen. Now, Finn Iles and Matt Walker are battling it out at the top of Elite category and it won’t be long before Jackson Goldstone and Jordan Williams are doing the same. Just like 2017, the Canadian appears to have the edge but the Brit took the World Championship that season and has had a better start to his Elite career.

Matt Walker has had a better start to his Elite career than Finn Iles

Junior Women

  • Gracey Hemstreet 225
  • Phoebe Gale 210
  • Jenna Hastings 165
  • Izabela Yankova 115
  • Aimi Kenyon 115

With three wins from four races Gracey Hemstreet is just as dominant as Amaury Pierron in Elite Men and this title race might be all but over too with another victory for the Canadian this weekend, however GB’s Phoebe Gale has yet to finish outside the top 2 and will be pushing Gracey hard again this weekend.

Myriam Nicole won last weekend in Lenzerheide & has home track advantage this weekend

Team

  • Commencal Muc-Off 330
  • Dorval AM Commencal 291
  • Santa Cruz Syndicate 241
  • Madison Saracen 188
  • Trek Factory Racing DH 162

Commencal are definitely the force to be reckoned with in the sport at the moment and expect that to continue at their home race this weekend. Who am I picking? Well, before a crank has been turned, I’ll go with two of their riders, Myriam Nicole and Thibaut Daprela. Let’s have your predictions in the comments below.

If what we’re hearing is correct, this will be the last time we’ll hear Rob Warner commentating in Andorra for the foreseeable future #lookatthetime

Watch Vallnord DH Finals here on Saturday 16th July

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Viewing 16 posts - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)
  • DH World Cup Rd 5 – Vallnord – Preview & how to watch
  • Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    If what we’re hearing is correct, this will be the last time we’ll hear Rob Warner commentating in Andorra for the foreseeable future #lookatthetime

    Say what now ?

    Elaborate.

    Premier Icon Dark Side
    Full Member

    I guess Warner is not moving to Discovery Networks next season then. Shame.

    Premier Icon somafunk
    Full Member

    Track looks very fast with a couple of dodgy bridges

    Premier Icon George Thompson
    Full Member

    Not had it confirmed from the man himself but 2 people have told me Rob won’t be doing the World Cups anymore. Massive blow. You only have to watch Crankworx or World Champs coverage on the BBC to see what he brings to the sport.

    Premier Icon James
    Free Member

    Reading here it sounds unlikely to be returning next year, real shame as he’s been the voice of dh since Freecaster days for a lot of people. Honestly struggle to imagine it without him tbf.

    https://www.vitalmtb.com/features/Rob-Warner-The-Inside-Line-Archives,3857

    Premier Icon danposs86
    Full Member

    Now is the perfect time to see Crankworx and Red Bull TV get together and build an incredible race series for next year. Might be able to pull in quite a few top riders (especially if the £3k to £20k entry fee price hike rumour by the DH World Cup is to be true).

    Premier Icon desperatebicycle
    Free Member

    The commentary makes such a difference. I was trying to watch some BMX championships on Eurosport last week and the commentator just made it all so dull. Will be a shame if Rob goes. Only guy who comes close is Ed Leigh, but I doubt if he’ll be in line for the job.

    Premier Icon tom84
    Free Member

    omg that track is insane

    Premier Icon crab
    Free Member

    Yes the track looks crazy fast.

    Nice to see Gwynn properly back in the mix with 5th in qualis.

    Will be gutted to not have Warner at the helm next year. That is such a blow to the sport.

    Premier Icon trimix
    Free Member

    Gwynn does seem to be back on it. Either the track is an outlier and it just suits him and the bike, or they have finally got the bike sorted. Probably the latter as Dakota has also been up there recently.

    On the subject of Rob – I actually asked him outright at Fort Bill if he was going to be employed by Red Bull next year. He said “No”. After I commented along the lines of how the coverage wont be the same without him he replied saying the internet will explode and a week later they will all have forgotten it.

    Really not sure who would be good to do his job. Hopefully they pick someone who actually knows what they are talking about and someone with character.

    Premier Icon darnold
    Full Member

    It’s bad enough it’s gone to Discovery but no Rob Warner is an absolute tragedy for the sport. No one comes even close to the excitement and enthusiasm he brings. Can see the ratings drop off without him. The commentary is everything. E.g. Crankworx DH was painfull to watch due to the commentary.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    Premier Icon Hannah Dobson
    Full Member

    The final section of the track gives me the willies. Glad it’s not raining.

    Premier Icon kimbers
    Full Member

    Damn updated my fantasy team, but it doesn’t seem to have saved and I’d have been on 2nd & 3rd in the women’s!

    Premier Icon crab
    Free Member

    Yes agree about that last bit, particularly the entrance to the final bridge, a few of the Women only just making it as the track seems to throw the riders to the left. That drop in the steep section that the women are rolling is nuts! Looks far worse than the practice vids show.

    Well done *** (edit to avoid spoiler) for holding it together, nice to see it click for her where it went bad for quite a few others.

    Premier Icon wordnumb
    Free Member

    Last few runs were properly insane. Hard to see where Greenland lost time in the second half, possibly because those bridges/rubber matting were a really bad idea.

Viewing 16 posts - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)

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