It's back! The wick of the World Cup season just got lit and it's all going off here in the French foothills at last. First practice began slow, sticky and slippery in between and finished with a balls to the wall timed training session, under summer sun, on just about perfect dirt. The Lourdes course looks set to produce the goods all over again mixing the spectacularly gnarly with do-or-die gaps and full throttle racing all the way. A familiar course in the great majority of sections to the great majority of riders, most were looking breathtakingly quick and comfortable from the very beginning and to behold it was a thing of beauty. This evening Gee and Rachel Atherton sit on top of the pile, setting the standard for the weekend at 2:57 and 3:34; times the rest of the pack will now have to chase as a minimum.