Too Close To Call: Qualifying Photo Epic - Val di Sole DH World Cup 2017

Aug 25, 2017
by Dave Trumpore  



Ladies and gentleman, do we ever have a race on our hands here in Val di Sole. The points were certainly tight coming into this final round of the World Cup season, and after qualifying, they just got a whole lot tighter.

In the women's race, series leader Myriam Nicole went down in qualifying, leaving the door open for the competition to take advantage. And take advantage they did as Tracey Hannah, Tahnee Seagrave and Rachel Atherton all came out in front. The biggest gain going to Tracey who sits second in the series and needs every point she can get if she hopes to steal away the overall. If she can repeat her performance tomorrow and Myriam Nicole falters once again, things are going to get very interesting.

While the women's race for the title is certainly tight, the men's race is simply just too close to call. A focused and committed Aaron Gwin put it all on the line to take maximum points in qualifying, enough to close the differential to Greg Minnaar to the single digits. Minnaar, after a stressful day that saw him take a huge crash on his final training run, and a destroyed frame did his part to keep the damage to a minimum. Mental strength has never been a weakness for Greg and he rallied back from his mishaps to take second, and amazing 0.17 off the pace of his rival. Tomorrow, these two men will be the last two down the hill, and whoever finishes in front of the other will be the World Cup Champion.

If ever there was a World Cup race series that really did, as the cliche goes, come down to the wire, this is it. And if you are a fan of downhill racing, it just doesn't get any better than this.


In those woods lays the Black Snake of Val di Sole. The most brutal track on the World Cup circuit.
In those woods lays the Black Snake of Val di Sole. The most brutal track on the World Cup circuit.

John Hall prepping Gwin s Tues for the big match tomorrow and this time hoping for a little more luck than Val Di Sole 2016...
John Hall prepping Gwin's Tues for the big match tomorrow and this time hoping for a little more luck than Val Di Sole 2016...

Finn Iles and Kevin Joly talk about the sticking points up on the hill.
Finn Iles and Kevin Joly talk about the sticking points up on the hill.

Tahnee Seagrave drops the road gap up top en route to a second place in qualifying.
Tahnee Seagrave drops the road gap up top en route to a second place in qualifying.

Vaea Veerbeck drifts it through the rough and loamy chute near the top of the track.
Vaea Veerbeck drifts it through the rough and loamy chute near the top of the track.

The always consistent Troy Brosnan came out of the day in 4th. And with just two seconds separation him from the fastest time of the day racing is certainly going to be close in the finals.
The always consistent Troy Brosnan came out of the day in 4th. With just two seconds separating him from the fastest time of the day racing is certainly going to be close in the finals.

Troy Brosnan sharking his way through the woods for 4th.
Troy Brosnan sharking his way through the woods for 4th.

Marcello Gutierrez needs a strong finish tomorrow to hold onto his precious top 10 status.
Marcello Gutierrez needs a strong finish tomorrow to hold onto his precious top 10 status.

A crash for Emilie Siegenthaler put her way back but expect her to come back strong for finals and claim her place on the overall podium.
A crash for Emilie Siegenthaler put her way back, but expect her to come back strong for finals and claim her place on the overall podium.

Gwin is on a mission this weekend and is doing everything he can to grab the overall out from under Greg Minnaar. A win today in qualifying by just 0.17 seconds gets him that much closer.
Gwin is on a mission this weekend and is doing everything he can to grab the overall out from under Greg Minnaar. A win today in qualifying by just 0.17 seconds gets him that much closer.

With 3 wins already in the bag here in VDS can Aaron Gwin lock it down once again and claim the 2017 series .
With 3 wins already in the bag here in VDS, can Aaron Gwin lock it down once again and claim the 2017 series?.

Danny Hart looked lit everywhere on track but could only manage 8th in qualifying.
Danny Hart looked lit everywhere on track but could only manage 8th in qualifying.

8th this afternoon and with 5 seconds to find on track Danny Hart will be trying to replicate his glory run of 2016.
With 5 seconds to find on track tomorrow, Danny Hart will be trying to replicate his glory run of 2016.

Rachel earned those rainbow stripes on this track a year ago but is currently sitting in 3rd behind Tracey Hannah and Tahnee Seagrave.
Rachel earned those rainbow stripes on this track a year ago but is currently sitting in 3rd behind Tracey Hannah and Tahnee Seagrave.

Tracey Hannah charged the course putting 2.4 seconds into Tahnee Serve and 5 seconds into Rachel Atherton.
Tracey Hannah charged the course, putting 2.4 seconds into Tahnee Serve and 5 seconds into Rachel Atherton.

2 seconds behind Tracey 3 ahead of Rachel Tahnee Seagrave is in a nice spot for finals.
2 seconds behind Tracey, 3 ahead of Rachel, Tahnee Seagrave is in a nice spot for finals.

His ears still ringing from the sound of his exploding frame during training Minnaar sacked up and rode to second place totally unfazed.
His ears still ringing from the sound of his exploding frame during training, Minnaar sacked up and rode to second place, totally unfazed.

Today was one hell of a recovery ride by Greg Minnaar after a huge crash and nasty mechanical in his last practice run. Winner takes all tomorrow.
Today was one hell of a recovery ride by Greg Minnaar after a huge crash and nasty 'mechanical' in his last practice run. Winner takes all tomorrow.

Greg Minnaar is riding hard and aggressive here scrutinising each key section watching other riders and trying various lines. He is determined to seal this overall.
Greg Minnaar is riding hard and aggressive here, scrutinizing each key section, watching other riders and trying various lines. He is determined to seal this overall.

Miranda Miller making light work of the VDS steep and technical descending into 6th.
Miranda Miller making light work of the VDS steep and technical, descending into 6th.

Monika Hrastnik doing Slovenia proud and sending it into a podium position. Can she hold it down again when the pressure s on
Monika Hrastnik doing Slovenia proud and sending it into a podium position. Can she hold it down again when the pressure's on?

Adam Brayton going in the right direction to finish the season inside the top 20.
Adam Brayton going in the right direction to finish the season inside the top 20.

American youngster Dakotah Norton finished 16th and showed he had the speed to dice things up with the best riders in the world.
American youngster, Dakotah Norton, finished 16th and showed he had the speed to dice things up with the best riders in the world.

Just one second bad in 3rd is Loic Bruni.
Just one second back in 3rd is Loic Bruni.

Graeme Mudd floating off the step down which has been mellowed out this year.
Graeme Mudd floating off the step down which has been mellowed out this year.

Mark Wallace is having the season of his life and slotted inside the top 10 once again today.
Mark Wallace is having the season of his life and slotted inside the top 10 once again today.

Sixth place was a massive score for French underdog Amaury Pierron this afternoon.
Sixth place was a massive score for French underdog, Amaury Pierron, this afternoon.

11th today for Jack Moir he ll come out all guns blazing for overall podium tomorrow.
11th today for Jack Moir, he'll come out all guns blazing for the overall podium tomorrow.

3rd today for junior Sylvain Cougoureux a very distant 7 seconds of the pace.
Third today for junior, Sylvain Cougoureux, a very distant 7 seconds off the pace.

Finn Iles is in formidable form as he races his final World Cup as a junior.
Finn Iles is in formidable form as he races his final World Cup as a junior.

Matt Walker is just one second behind Finn Iles so we know the final junior men s race of the season will be an exciting one.
Matt Walker is just one second behind Finn Iles so we know the final junior men's race of the season will be an exciting one.

Matt Walker has had plenty of bad luck this year and will hope to get one over on Iles tomorrow before they move up to the join the big boys next season.
Matt Walker has had plenty of bad luck this year and will hope to get one over on Iles tomorrow before they move up to the join the big boys next season.

Gaetan Vige has shown flashes of his deadly pace this season his first in elite. 17th today for the SCOTT young gun.
Gaetan Vige has shown flashes of his deadly pace this season, his first in elite. 17th today for the Scott young gun.

Myriam Nicole could only ride to 4th today handing Tracey a bunch of points and upping the pressure that little bit more.
Myriam Nicole could only ride to 4th today, handing Tracey a bunch of points and upping the pressure that little bit more.

Nicole will hope for a smoother race run after tasting the dirt she still recovered to 4th and saved valuable points.
Myriam Nicole will hope for a smoother race run after tasting the dirt, she still recovered to 4th and saved valuable points.

Loris Vergier came down just 2.3 seconds back to take 5th.
Loris Vergier came down just 2.3 seconds back to take 5th.

Dean Lucas had top 10 splits the whole way down until he put his front wheel in the wrong spot in the final steep chute.
Dean Lucas had top 10 splits the whole way down until he put his front wheel in the wrong spot in the final steep chute.

Luca Shaw sits 7th going into tomorrow s final.
Luca Shaw sits 7th going into tomorrow's final.

Melanie Chappaz once again took a commanding win over the junior women s field.
Melanie Chappaz once again took a commanding win over the junior women's field.

Melanie Chappaz a massive 9.3 seconds clear of the competition in the junior womens race.
Melanie Chappaz, a massive 9.3 seconds clear of the competition in the junior women's race.

Baptiste Pierron is having one hell of a season and could move even further up from his current 18 ranking.
Baptiste Pierron is having one hell of a season and could move even further up from his current 18th ranking.

EWS World Champion Cecile Ravanel would finish in 9th after being held up trying to pass the rider who started in front of her.
EWS World Champion, Cecile Ravanel would finish in 9th after being held up trying to pass the rider who started in front of her.

Sam Blenkinsop sneaking into the top ten yet again.
Sam Blenkinsop sneaking into the top ten yet again.

The intense boys checking the splits ad live timing after their qualifying runs.
The Intense boys checking the splits and live timing after their qualifying runs.

Time for a proper hose down after a tough day surfing the Val Di Sole brown pow.
Time for a proper hose down after a tough day surfing the Val Di Sole brown pow.

Tracey very happy with her days work she s taken a chunk out of Myriam s lead meaning it ll go down to the wire tomorrow.
Tracey is very happy with her days work, she's taken a chunk out of Myriam's lead meaning it'll go down to the wire tomorrow.

Myriam Nicole has the number one plate but Tracey Hannah is definitely close enough to steal it away should anything go wrong tomorrow.
Myriam Nicole has the number one plate, but Tracey Hannah is definitely close enough to steal it away should anything go wrong tomorrow.

Currently in 8th in the overall but still with a good shout of a top 5 finish tomorrow s a big day for Nigel Reeve Mark Wallace and his Sender.
Currently in 8th in the overall, but still with a good shout of a top 5 finish, tomorrow's a big day for Nigel Reeve, Mark Wallace, and his Sender.

after a rough day Greg Minnaar gets a much needed massage in the Syndicate pits after qualifying.
After a rough day, Greg Minnaar gets a much-needed massage in the Syndicate pits after qualifying.

Cool and calm Aaron Gwinn is lazer focused on the task at hand. With now only 7 points separating himself and Greg Minnaar it is going to be as much a battle of nerves as skill in tomorrow s final.
Cool and calm, Aaron Gwinn is laser focused on the task at hand. With now only 23 points separating himself and Greg Minnaar, it is going to be as much a battle of nerves as skill in tomorrow's final.


MENTIONS: @davetrumpore




52 Comments

  • + 77
 "Mechanical" = frame splits in half
  • + 35
 Happens to the best of us
  • + 4
 Yeah are we just pretending that didn't happen?
  • + 6
 It's like writing off your car and calling it a "fender bender"
  • + 2
 on the video you can see it was not a graceful break
  • + 2
 @bforwil: happened to me just last week
  • + 19
 Watch out for Cecile, she was held up by another rider and still finished in 9th,...Bronson and Ravanal for the win just to shake things up
  • - 34
flag dirtyrig Plus (Aug 25, 2017 at 13:50) (Below Threshold)
 9th out of 18, nothing to watch out for.
  • + 5
 @dirtyrig: she was held up by the rider in front of her...
  • + 6
 Who are these?
  • + 2
 @COnovicerider: She was behind in every split, 8-9 in most, even before she was held up. I wish her all the best, but I don't think she's at the skill level that the top women DH riders are at, sorry.
  • + 11
 @dirtyrig: she made the mistake of changing bikes you see. Never change your setup.
  • + 8
 @dirtyrig: don't confuse skill with the commitment to being full pace. It takes serous courage and commitment to ride at that speed bur It also takes more than a weekend of laps on a new bike to get up to that speed. Make no mistake Cecil is as talented on a bike as any of the women she's racing this weekend.
  • + 1
 @triptex: I have to agree. She is seriously good on a bicycle.
  • + 1
 @triptex: I never questioned her skill nor commitment, but she is coming from enduro and xc, she is not accustomed to the WC DH speeds and she did not impress me in the qualifier nor in the actual race for that matter, she was 10th out of 15 that's way closer to last then first! In my opinion, the sustained speeds of a WC DH race take years to develop. That's why enduro, or xc athletes, mostly initially do not do that well transitioning to DH, but MX athletes usually transition to DH very well and quickly (Gwin, Minnaar to name a few), MX athletes are already used to those speeds. Yes skill, strength and endurance are all important, but speed is a different animal to train for, it usually takes years to develop your mind to slow things down so your perceived speeds feel more comfortable/normal. Not everyone can reach elite levels in the development of this ability, its just a bit more complicated than the other attributes.
  • + 14
 The racing is pretty intense this year. Gotta love it. Hope everyone stays healthy
  • + 6
 And several young talents chasing top 10! A giant amount of skills on this rocky mountain...
  • + 8
 @fracasnoxteam: its been a long trek for these specialized athletes
  • + 12
 Ok I need help with the math. I thought Gwin was 33 points back from Minaar, so after qualification should it not now be a 23 point differential?
  • + 1
 truth. not sure where 7 pts came from.
  • + 34
 Correct ... This was info taken from a team manager with a stake in the game and we should have double checked their math. First place gets 50pts and second gets 40 in qualifying, so it is a 23 point spread now. For finals the winner gets 200 then it goes to 160 and 140. If Gwin wins it's over, but if he finishes second Greg could still get third and win. I believe in the women's race, if Tracey Hannah wins the race, Myriam wins the title as long as she is on the podium for 5th or better.
  • + 5
 @davetrumpore: Cheers, that's saved me working how much Tracey had to do to win ...... turns out its quite a lot :/
  • + 3
 So Hart will win today .. Gwin 2nd then Greg. .
  • + 8
 @davetrumpore: If Brosnan wins, and Gwin is 4th or lower and Minnaar is 6th or lower, Brosnan takes the season. A long shot, but weirder things have happened this season. Minnaar just broke his bike in half, for example; that's weird.
  • + 10
 Minnaar will get this win for all us old dudes and wrap it up! tup
  • + 2
 Turned in to one heck of a season. Hats off to whoever wins. I can barely handle the anticipation as a spectator; I don't know how these guys function under the pressure! My only hope for tomorrow is that a mechanical failure doesn't impact the results.
  • + 4
 I like the photos where you can see the racers eyes. Good examples of looking far ahead not right in front of you.
  • + 4
 So Ravanel got held up during qualis?? I predict her finals run will be a hold up...
  • + 4
 Vaea Verbeeck is on a Polygon? I thought she was sponsored by Rocky Mountain.
  • + 13
 Previous article mentioned that her bike didn't make it so she borrowed Tracey Hannah's Polygon
  • + 2
 Riding with tracey bike, her rm never arrived at the airport or something like that
  • + 2
 @RearBrake: Oh crap! I didn't see that earlier. Tough break. Frown
  • + 1
 So... Gwin, I don't wanna pressure you or anything. BUT YOU HAVE TO FUCKING WIN THIS TOMORROW! lol Sorry Minnaar, you're pure class and there are no hard feelings... it's just Gwin deserves that win, because he sure as hell is the only man who can outride the whole competition by easily 3 seconds in Val Di Sole given he is spared a mechanical.
  • + 15
 2015, brosnan brought back 3 seconds on Aaron and found himself on the podium with a crash...
  • - 8
flag mazze (Aug 25, 2017 at 14:33) (Below Threshold)
 @kleinblake: fair enough, that was a great run by Troy.. but let's not forget he was teammates with Gwin and profited from his lines even more than everybody else since he smashed EVERYONE by 8 seconds in 2012. Watch it yourself right here www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEoamTgGhDQ btw great to hear Cunny in the commentary box together with a totally disbelieving & throaty Rob Warner commentating his heart out.
  • + 4
 @mazze: troy was on spesh then and aaron was on trek, that was just gwin being gwin
  • + 2
 Hart won by 3 seconds at the last race here, and Gwin was off pace before his mechanical.
  • + 2
 Awesome photo boys! Thanks for all the hard work all season! The head on Atherton shot by Trumpore and the Pierre vertical pan by Bell are so good!!
  • + 1
 Totally agree. The shots on Pinkbike are always amazing but this week's seem to be exceptionally so.

My favs:
Eye of the tiger shot of Grin & Backlit shot of Rachel by @DaveThumpore
Blurred foreground shot of Tahnee by @NathanHughes
Graeme Mudd Pano shot & Finn light pocket shot by @RossBell
  • + 3
 Hannah seems to like that new bike. Maybe P.B. can get the low down on it?
  • + 2
 Really good photos! I'm not normally into that but I found these took me a long time to get through as I was captivated by quite a few. Thanks.
  • + 3
 Thank you Dave, Ross, Nathan, and Pinkbike. I am giddy as all heck!
  • + 2
 I'm going to say it again because it doesn't get said enough. The best photographers in the business!!!!!!
  • + 0
 After Minnaar crashed and spit his bike in two I saw people trying to cover the bike up with a jacket so people didn't get pictures of it like a women who just lost her bikini top.
  • + 1
 This will be one hell of an exciting race. Hoping for a clean run from the top three men and women!
  • + 1
 29ers are dead.
  • + 11
 *That 29er of Minaar is dead indeed, I got to admit Wink Great pictures once again,PB!
  • + 1
 Jack Moir is doing quite decent (and hasn't wrecked his bike yet).
  • + 1
 loris on 27.5??
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.065414
Mobile Version of Website