La Bresse is a great little track, and very legit as a World Cup venue. It may not have the prestige that a grand track like Mt St Anne or Fort William exhibits, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with just enough technical and awkward bits to make a win here a definite jewel.
In the women’s race, Tracy Moseley put her stamp on qualifying, dominating the field by over two seconds. That’s an eternity on a short track like this, as there is very little room to take risks and make up for errors on the track.
But race day is another day, and the slate is whited clean. Manon Carpenter was the first to put in a solid time, and enjoyed the hot seat for a good long time. But when the top ladies came down, her time in the sun was over. Rachel Atherton was the first “name” rider to claim the hot seat—and that was a bit of a shocker as Rachel slid out of a left hand turn and was off the bike with the finish line all but in sight. An off the bike on a short track like this and you may as well go home.
But there were a number of other fast ladies remaining, including Emmeline Ragot, Myriam Nicole… pretty much the usual suspects. Ragot tried to unseat Atherton, and came pretty close, but five seconds worth of mistakes on the top section were too much to overcome.
“I was happy with the podium, to be honest,” said Ragot, between signing autographs after the event, “this track doesn’t really suit me. It doesn’t have a lot of flow. Steep, and with flow—that’s where I do well. Champery. Val di Sole.”
The old Sabrina Jonnier came out to play here—maybe the “home” crowd? And while Sabo was able to edge out Atherton, she made a few too many errors on the bottom to hold off Floriane Pugin and Tracy Moseley, who claimed second and first respectively. And Moseley put in such a hard charging and dominating run that no one really had a chance against her. This race was won by her fair and square.
In the men’s race, it was Ben Cathro pulling out one of the best races of his life to take the hot seat and stay. And stay. And bust out some polish and shine it up a bit. He started thirty third on the day, and it wasn’t until GT’s Marc Beaumont came down with twelve racers to go that Cathro got the boot. After Beaumont, the times a came a tumblin’ down. Fabien Barel put in an incredibly emotional ride, one that left him fulfilled enough as a racer that Barel announced—following Worlds at Champery—his retirement. And his time was good enough for him to edge past Beaumont. But then came Minnaar. Smashing time: 2:09.611—3.473 seconds up over Barel. Not an easy time to overcome. And with Peaty, Gee Atherton, Steve Smith, and Aaron Gwin to come… Peaty DSQ’d on his run—somehow he managed to roll over a bit of tape? Smith pinned it on the top section. G-man made a couple tiny errors—one in the middle, one near the bottom. And Gwin proved he’s not a machine: the perfect run eluded him here. Making Minnaar the winner.
But his win was bittersweet. A win’s a win. But Gwin put in a solid enough performance that the overall is now his, regardless of how he performs at Val di Sole. Minnaar may be able to claim a win at that Italian monster track, but it will do nothing for the overall title—in some eyes a more worthy title than a World’s title.
| So, how do you like them apples... Water cooler talk at the SRAM pits this morning about the rain overnight.|
| "You must use the force, Spagnolo, my young padawan..." Barel may have made the decision to retire, but that doesn't mean the master is done passing on lessons. The rain overnight made the track a bit of a mess, and after Barel and Spagnolo rolled through the mud pit up top, they pulled over to discuss line choice.|
| Getting buck wild--Devinci's George Brannigan feeling his way through the soft upper track.|
| Full gas: Brendawg was definitely feeling it. Although having zero ligaments in one knee made things a bit harder on him, twelth place was a sign of a solid return to form.|
| Needles practicing his Moses imitation for the Mondraker team.|
| Gratuitous roost shot. Nothing more, nothing less. Polcster at the helm.|
| Duncan Riffle came out swinging this season, but the SoCal rider has had a rough go of it lately, despite deliberately taking the time to train in the NW US mud throughout the winter.|
| Ivan Oulego may be the second oldest racer punching the clock today, but the new Massi "El Toro" DH sled and his years of wily experience saw him take home 28th on the day. Look for that plate number 114 to drop well below 100 for Val di Sole.|
| Elliot Jackson will also see a sharp drop in his plate number for Val di Sole--from 167 overall to 87.|
| Mitch Delf's sled may have been stolen, forcing him to contest the La Bresse event on a borrowed (and a size smaller than normal) Operater, but he came through not too shabby considering the time off the bike to heal up a nasty cut in his hand from the North American leg of the tour. He's still off the form he showed last year, but with a bit of luck and some solid training, he will likely crack back into the top twenty at Val di Sole.|
| Waving the CG Racing Brigade all by his lonesome is Marcelo Gutierrez; CG blew out a knee at French Nationals and will be out the rest of the season. But Marcelo is holding his own, finishing 32 in today's race.|
| Markus Pekoll of MS-Evil|
| Ratboy Bryceland was having a barn burner. Until he hit the eject button on the last double. See below. |
| Judging by the high quality sneaks he's sporting--where'd he find those things? A dumpster?--equipment failure in that department may have Bryceland in search of a shoe sponsor for Val di Sole.|
| Danny Hart somehow threw it all away on the top section of the track; he was nearly three seconds out of the money, but he was four seconds down at the first split.|
| Barel charging into an emotional finish line. The man will be hanging it up at the end of the season. Look for a more in-depth interview on his decision to step back from the sport at Val di Sole.|
| Andrew Neethling took his Trek wind tunnel testing seriously--it's not often you see a racer this tucked for speed in this kind of a mine field. But when you throw away six seconds on the top of the course, you do what you can to try and pull it back.|
| Somehow, somewhere, Peaty went out off the course and re-entered elsewhere. That's the story, anyway, but Peaty was unavailable for comment following the race. Look for more on this as we get word.|
| G-Man was back in form and back on the podium today. Somewhere out on the course he gave away nearly a half second to Minnaar--it was enough to give Minnaar the win.|
| Gwin was third at the first split and simply could not make up the time on a track this short. Third was where he stayed.|
| The Men's Elite Podium (L-R): Barel (4), Gee Atherton (2). Minnaar (1), Gwin (3), and Cameron Cole (5).|
| Tracy Moseley coming home for a win.|
| Cam Cole on his finals run.|
| It's been a rough year for Minaar; the win here in La Bresse was a welcome win, and just offset the sting of Aaron Gwin sealing the deal on the World Cup over all win.|
| Moseley savored this win. For all of 60 seconds--the amount of time it took her to polish off the entire bottle of champagne.|