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.