Afterbang - Chapter 2: Val Di Sole

Jun 21, 2013
by Nathan Hughes  
Travel amp Verona
Castelvecchio Bridge

Verona... Colonised by the Romans in 89BC. The setting of Shakespeare's most famous play in 1591. An important strategic base of the Cold War until 1990. And last week, a place for team Pinkbike to eat gelato for dinner, on the way to World Cup Round 2, Val Di Sole. That’s right, over the hills and far away, 160km to be precise, men and women from across the world were making noises in the woods and it was our sorry job to find out who was gonna ride out on top.

Some downhill tracks are smooth and man-made, others unkempt and natural. Then there are twisted, dried-up, old lava flows that burp up rocks, like the one in question. Over the weekend a continual, ‘metamorphic metamorphosis’ was suffered by all, as the mutant course transformed itself a little uglier, with every rider passing.

Laid back medics
A far cry from the serene streets of Verona... for some at least. Hundreds of innocents got chewed up and spat out by the revolting serpent beast that was this year’s Val Di Sole world cup track. Swap the Shakespearean ruffle for a neck-brace, my friend, this one’s a wild one.

And there was no hiding a dirty misdemeanor in these climbs. When a rider went down gently enough to get back up, they were set to smolder all the way down to the finish area as a marked man. And plenty did. Granted, to taste a win is to take risks while avoiding others simultaneously, but last weekend a collection of big names would fall foul of the balancing act and go home howling.

Deep forest
Brendan looking
Val Di Sole is buried deep in the woods of Stellvio National Park. The atmosphere of being in the heart of the forest is thick when you’re on track, and the only escape from the mosquitoes is down the boulder coated labyrinth, until the sweet release and dazzling sunlight of the finishing area. Here we see a solitary male Brendog surveying a high-altitude area, prowling either for mates on heat or missing seconds amongst the knotted roots and ferns.

Finding the ruts
Mick Hannah in his element chaos on all sides but riding in the light the whole way.
It would take a bare-knuckle boxing champ from a Russian labor camp to turn their nose up at the punishment on offer from this course. The amount of force channeled through components when they’re pointed down a so-called line here is breath-taking, as any high frame-rate video footage from the weekend can illustrate. Mick Hannah looks for the silk path in the upper quarter.

Rach amp Mick pre race
Pre-race is a time when the pressure can mount too high if you don't take steps. Aaron Gwin takes valuable chill time in his RV, while Atherton Snapchats kittens(?) and Mick gets an important trim. Haircuts are a curious pre-race ritual, but one hour before his race Mick was genuinely having his split ends manicured. You wouldn't think a slight mullet would cause that much drag, but it's the little things.

No tunes for Rachel Atherton but a series of plyometrics to get her into gear for the 3 43.810 run she would be throwing down an hour later.
   A series of plyometrics were about to get Rachel into gear for the winning run she would be throwing down an hour later. Pre-race worries about the pace of competition were unnecessary... Or did they push her on an extra 5 seconds?

After finishing 3rd overall in the 2012 iXS European Downhill Cup Zarja stepped it up placing top 10 at the first two world cups. 10th in Fort William and 9th in Val di Sole.
  Zarja Cernilogar, is another GT lady-pilot noticeably ripping it up this season. Having finished 3rd overall in the 2012 iXS European Downhill Cup, the blue haired girl outta Slovenia has placed in the top 10 at both world cups so far, and is on the rampage for more plunder.

Team Spesh
Anyone who saw Troy Brosnan get a bit wild in the second to last corner will be wondering WTF How did Brosnan NOT go down An amazing ride for the youung Aussie.
It was a great weekend for Specialized Racing. Luca Shaw (plate 244) tore up the juniors to place 3rd on the box, while Troy hammered into 5th in the mens. Gwin had a solid, but low profile entry one off the podium, just an out of place pine cone behind him.

Josh getting wild
Like a Tuscan Pinot Grigio, Josh ‘Miami Bryce’ Bryceland keeps getting better with time. His is a name not exactly synonymous with consistency, but maybe that’s because of his ‘all guns blazing’ riding style. The Bryce has been stealthily picking his way through the ranks these last few years and with his 3rd place in Val D’Isere last season it would be unwise to rule him out of anything. A familiarity with the podium hasn't blossomed as easily as predicted since coming of age, but more and more he's sniffing around the top ten looking to do damage. He kept the hotseat toasty for a long time at the weekend, then surrendered for 7th.

Monk solving
Brook s run
Trek mechanic, Monkey, is no stranger to a mangled bike carcass… Especially now that the Bulldog is spinning laps in Trek colors. A furious MacDonald came a cropper this time and even a weight saving, saddle-less dash to the line wasn’t gonna redeem the situation. Too loose.

In pinball alley--pretty much anywhere on this boulder strewn minefield of a track--threading the needle can be tricky business. Danny Hart looking for a stitch in time on his final practice run of the event.
7th, 2nd and 6th. For the last three years Hart's proven his understanding of this track, surely a dead cert to do well here, but he came unstuck…twice. After the disappointment of dropping off six spots for the final from his fastest qualifying time at Fort Bill, this last weekend’s errors will be tough to bear.

Fashion heros
There’s plain old people and then there’s heroes. Eddy ‘Guerilla’ Masters is a hero in an open leather jacket, placing a sponsored-rider-embarrassing 26th on the day. Bernard Kerr is also a hero. 12th place for the upcoming Brit pinner is a formidable looking rank on this course. No fake. Who else… well obviously the man finding dignity in a vest made of sunburn and a filth silhouette is also a hero. Not to forget Florent Payent of Evil CK Racing, not pictured but with honors for a massive 8th position turn up.

Loic podiums
The face of somebody about to hit the big time like a fat kid let loose on the piñata. Loic Bruni has snuck onto the podium once before, last season in the States. Here he climbed up one step higher, but in the eyes of anyone observing trackside it’s clear the Frenchman’ s about to unleash some terrifying potential on the world of bike riding.

Moody Hill
Sam Hill arrived late for the party and was in no mood for cake. As the man who wrote the very book on getting loose, he’s well aware that when the rug gets pulled out it’s further and harder to fall, with all the more important points hemorrhaging out. Not every dog can have his day and this wasn't the one for the Australian terrier.

Greg 3rd
Greg Minnaar was stoked with his bronze-grade race, just one and a quarter seconds behind the Gee-man. A shady start, by his standards, at Fort William got laid to rest here on finals day. Be assured it’s out of his system and he’s ready to dance his Santa Cruz to the very top once again.

Stevie almost
Stevie awaits
Stevie Smith came thundering down the mountain like an unchained gold miners cart, cavorting into the arena with a clenched fist and gritted teeth. Last year’s ultimate round champ was locked in for the win, all set to paint the town red and white, but had he done enough to stop the Atherton war machine? 3:12.2 later and he was slamming his glove to the ground in frustration. A single second can be too late in this fickle game.

Gee Atherton back to his winning form. Not to put the cart before the horse per say but if he can maintain focus with such a short season on tap a couple more W s will pretty much seal the deal on an overall for Gee.
Atherton was too damn good, all over again. A track with such markedly different requirements from racers and he still had it covered better than a shrink-wrapped halloumi in the fridge. Flawless bicycle riding with the fitness, skill and flair to boot, there’s nobody going to put a stick in Atherton’s spokes right now.

Girls podium
Rach wins
Men s podium
Greg seeing it off
It s a wrap

Thirty-two days stand between us and the next opportunity for rematch. Everyone's got their axe to grind as a new course in Andorra looms in the distance. For now it's the man in black and yellow keeping the pro classes awake at night.


  • 93 1
 I'm really in to the world cup this year, great coverage pink bike!!
  • 11 13
 red bull
  • 9 1
 No one is gonna put a stick in Atherton's ZTRs, he puts a stick in you
  • 4 7
 Getting Atherton's stick would be very painful.
  • 2 1
 Just amazing photos!
  • 49 1
 Dammit UCI, why must you torture us with a 5 week break until Round 3!!!!
  • 2 0
 ......and only 6 races!!!
  • 36 5
 Gee ! what a machine ! im sure hes gonna wi.... Wooooow wait a moment ... (6th pic from bottom up) Hellllllo ... and you are?
  • 11 2
 cute chick,
  • 3 2
 Maybe Myriam Nicole??
  • 14 0
 Don't think he means the rider there mate.
  • 5 2
 They would both get it
  • 18 0
 That is a lot of metaphors and onomatopoeias Book
  • 27 0
 Gots to keep your attention like a caffeinated meerkat.
  • 1 10
flag mtbmaniatv Plus (Jun 21, 2013 at 6:46) (Below Threshold)
 had to stop reading... thats why picture books are the best
  • 2 8
flag jerome (Jun 21, 2013 at 6:57) (Below Threshold)
 yeah I wonder if this is a contest to see how many different figure of speech can be used in one article. It's just not the same as Rob Warner live
  • 6 1
 I like it. Its better than the usual drivel that has been on here lately.
  • 3 0
 "Stevie Smith came thundering down the mountain like an unchained gold miners cart" - Great speech.
  • 13 0
 I was there and It was freaking awesome. I made it on the Pinkbike recap AND on the vital recap haha. Mr Tanlines!!
  • 3 0
 You are a Hero with the wife beater shirt Big Grin long live Marcel
  • 9 1
 Nice work Nathan! Keep the Afterbangs coming!
  • 2 0
 Nathan's afterbangs are very good. Mine usually involve some food and sleep.
  • 7 3
 IVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT GWIN BEING UNSUCCESFUL!!!! its not the bike, and its no the ride... ITS MONKEY! now that Aaron doesnt have Monkey to work over his bike magically, he has not been on the top. but nnnnoooowww looks whos kickin ass this year!! BULLDOG!! and look who his mechanic is.
  • 9 1
 great pics
  • 6 0
 Great coverage pinkbike!!
  • 6 0
 Liking the PB musings.
  • 4 0
 Great photos and coverage, go Smith!
  • 4 0
 Props to you Eddy, Yourve done the Fonz proud mate!
  • 1 0
 It looks like the kid who crashed (Vanja's picture) on photo #8 was still clipped. Not a sight you'd like to see at any mtb event. Hope that rider is alright.
  • 3 0
 dirty things crossed my mind when I saw rachel's pic
  • 2 1
 Great article! Really enjoyed the gentleman in a leather jacket. I did not enjoy hearing about Barry Curr. He shouldn't feature again.
  • 5 4
 i might just become a biggest fan of Gwin, now that he doesn't use iphone that's cool!! Big Grin
  • 2 0
 What phone is he using? I have a Samsung Galaxy S that I got from Jim
  • 3 0
 Gooo Zarja!
  • 1 0
 Yeah! Gooo Zarja!
  • 1 0
 that's one big ass phone Gwin has, is that the note 2? looks too big to be a galaxy S4
  • 2 0
 Mavics? Since when are the Athertons running Mavic wheels? Razz
  • 1 0
 Do you not read the papers?
  • 2 0
 Great photos!
  • 2 0
 Great photos!!
  • 1 0
 gee's ricky bobby training is working.
  • 2 0
 good read!
  • 2 0
 Yeh this guy usually writes good things that are funny and informative and funny
  • 1 0
 Great wrap up!
  • 1 0
 Awesome photos!

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