Finals Photo Epic: Heat Wave - Vallnord World Cup DH 2019

Jul 6, 2019
by Nathan Hughes  


Photo Epic presented by Five Ten

Another day without a drop of moisture in the air and the surf was up here in the high mountains of Andorra. The break was your standard left to right and back to left again all the way to the valley floor, with many riders getting barrelled clean off the track in the axle-deep dust. Prolonged high temps left great waves of feather-light powder to contend with, often masking the collapse of trusted ruts and berms. Faith in the Catalan dirt was dwindling and rightly so as the crash rate hit record highs. It was probably the toughest race of the season so far, but its unpredictable nature led to some real heroism up in the woods and naturally it was good to watch.

Three of the four wins on the day were taken by those in the rainbow stripes. Vali Holl, Rachel Atherton and of course Loic Bruni, who became World Champion here for the first time back in 2015. In the junior men's race, Thibaut Daprela's unbeaten spree came to an end as he tumbled out of contention, leaving fellow countryman, Matteo Iniguez, to chalk up his first ever win. In the junior women, Vali Holl battled on with her wounded shoulder and put more points on the board ahead of number two, Anna Newkirk, still managing a bewildering 12-second advantage on the day. After a dubious qualifier, Rachel Atherton was able to stride one victory closer to the big 4-0 and the towering record set by GOAT, Anne-Caroline Chausson. Crucially, Atherton swiped back some precious points from white jersey wearer, Tracy Hannah, reducing the margin to just 60 points.

This was a race with that World Champs feel all round; checkers or wreckers in the dust and it seemed that caution on track might just pay dividends for a little while, as such a high proportion crashed out of the men's race. Remi Thirion made a spectacular return to the sharp end and spent good time in the hot seat before a flurry of the big names seemed to find a way to keep pushing on the treacherous course. Loris Vergier rode with that familiar aggression, flow and extreme smoothness we saw from him here last season and it was so very nearly enough. However, it is Loic Bruni with all the momentum right now and lord knows the fitness and the skill to go the distance. 0.4 seconds decided it and now the man from Cagnes-Sur-Mer has two jerseys to wear - white on white with the rainbows poking through. How great will it be to see the top Frenchman battle it out on home soil next weekend... or will a non-resident steal the show?



Bike check coming soon.

The unrelenting heat of the Catalan sun left most blown out and dusty version of the course above La Massana we have ever seen.
The unrelenting heat of the Catalan sun left us with the most blown out and dust-filled version of the La Massana course we have ever seen.

Anna Newkirk with another strong ride into second place.
Anna Newkirk with yet another strong ride into second place.

Third place for Mille Johnset in the dust.
Third place for Mille Johnset in the dust.

Vali Holl holding it down with another huge 12 second lead despite crashing on her injured shoulder in morning practice.
Vali Holl holding it down with another huge 12-second lead despite crashing on her injured shoulder in morning practice.

Your top 3 junior women 1st Vali Holl 2nd Anna Newkirk 3rd Mille Johnset
Your top 3 junior women: 1st Vali Holl, 2nd Anna Newkirk & 3rd Mille Johnset

Another mid-race run abduction in the depths of the forest.
Another mid-race run abduction in the depths of the forest. Damn aliens.

Lucas Cruz has been pushing for the junior podium all season and today it finally clicked with a second place.
Lucas Cruz has been pushing for the junior podium all season and today it finally clicked with a second place.

Patrick Laffey is becoming a regular on the Junior podium. Third for the Canadian.
Patrick Laffey is becoming a regular on the Junior podium. Third for the Canadian.

Matteo Iniguez keeps it low but far from slow on route to his first win.
Matteo Iniguez keeps it low, but far from slow on route to his first win.

The Vallnord Junior 1 2 3... Iniguez Cruz and Laffey.
The Vallnord Junior 1,2,3... Iniguez, Cruz and Laffey.

Tough on riders and on media alike. be aware of the dust waves or be a victim.
Tough on riders and on media alike. Be aware of the barrelling dust waves or be a victim.

Siegenthaler is no stranger to the podium and Vallnord couldn t shake her 4th on the day.
Siegenthaler is no stranger to the podium and Vallnord couldn't shake her; 4th on the day.

2nd in the splits but mistakes cost the series leader in the lower steeps and she lost 60 vital points to Atherton rolling into 3rd on the day.
2nd in the splits, but mistakes cost the series leader in the lower steeps and she lost 60 vital points to Atherton rolling into 3rd on the day.

Marine Cabirou rode strong all weekend in these tough conditions. She d finish second behind Atherton.
Marine Cabirou rode strong all weekend through these particularly tough conditions.

Marine Cabirou rode strongly to second place 2.5 seconds back from the win.
Cabirou would finish just 2.5 seconds back from the win.

A big day for Italian nationl champ Eleonora Farina hitting the podium for the first time on her Mondraker set-up.
A big day for Italian national champ, Eleonora Farina, hitting the podium for the first time on her Mondraker set-up.

Eleonora Farina and Tracey Hannah happy to be on the box together.
Farina and Hannah happy to share a drink on the box together.

Rachel Atherton took a full three seconds off her qualifying time and along with that the victory here in Andorra.
Rachel Atherton took a full three seconds off her qualifying time and along with that the victory here in Andorra.

Rachel Atherton bounced back from qualifying with a bang.
Atherton bounced back from qualifying with a bang to make it two in a row.

Win number 2 of the season for Rachel Atherton as she claws back towards Tracey Hannah in the overall.
Win number 2 of the season for Rachel Atherton as she claws back towards Tracey Hannah in the overall.

Nina Hofmman s race run antics didn t stop once she crossed the line. Check the shoe or lack of
Nina Hoffmann's race run antics didn't stop once she crossed the line. Check the shoe, or lack thereof!

It wasn t to be today for Nina Hoffmann.
It seemed it just wasn't to be today for Hoffmann, but 4th in the series and still time to climb the ranks.

Your elite womens podium in Andorra 1st Rachel Atherton 2nd Marine Cabirou 3rd Tracey Hannah 4th Emilie Siegenthaler 5th Eleonora Farina
Your elite women's podium in Andorra: 1st Rachel Atherton, 2nd Marine Cabirou, 3rd Tracey Hannah, 4th Emilie Siegenthaler & 5th Eleonora Farina.

Victory tastes sweet for Rachel Atherton.
Victory tastes sweet for Rachel Atherton.

A quick reload to the top of the mountain for the elite men's race.

Bruce Klein failing to launch in an explosion of moondust.
Bruce Klein failing to launch in an explosion of moondust.

Kona s Connor Fearon put down a clean top 20 despite having a few mechanicals in practice holding him back.
Kona's Connor Fearon put down a clean top 20 despite having a few mechanicals in practice holding him back.

Luca Shaw is a dark horse always looking so calm and controlled on track yet carrying top 20 speed down to the line.
Luca Shaw is a dark horse, always looking so calm and controlled on track, yet carrying top 20 speed down to the line.

Greg Williamson sure is back on the form and consistency program for 2019. 15th for the Scot.
Greg Williamson sure is back on the form and consistency program for 2019. 15th for the Scot.

Thomas Estaque is at his best when things get steep and sketchy. A return to the top 20 for the wild Frenchy.
Thomas Estaque is at his best when things get steep and sketchy. A return to the top 20 for the wild Frenchy.

Johannes Von Klebelsberg rocking the denim to a 14th place finish.
Johannes Von Klebelsberg taking the denim to a 14th place finish.

Jacob Dickson stuffing it into the loose berm exiting the woods. A strong ride from the Irishman took him to 13th.
Jacob Dickson stuffing it into the loose berm exiting the woods. A strong ride from the Irishman took him to 13th.

Just outside the top 10 for Greg Minnaar.
Just outside the top 10 for Greg Minnaar.

10th place for this dust specialist should help cut that plate number down to size. Jack Moir is back folks...
10th place for this dust specialist should help cut that plate number down to size. Jack Moir is back, folks...

Moir charging the last meters down to the line holding the fort in absence of his Amercian team mates.
Moir charging the last meters down to the line, holding the fort in absence of his American team mates.

It was a matter of time before this berm let go and claimed a victim. Dakotah Norton couldn t believe his luck.
It was a matter of time before this berm let go and claimed a victim. Dakotah Norton couldn't believe his luck.

Not the wild race Greenland wanted but a dubious result for him can still be a top 10.
Not the wild race Greenland wanted, but he still ended up in the top 10.

No doubt Greenland has more to give this season and will be extra mad for it heading to the French Alps next week.
No doubt Greenland has more to give this season and will be extra mad for it heading to the French Alps next week.

Quiet and softly spoken off the bike but a total animal on it it s great to see Remi Thirion return to the top 10.
Quiet and softspoken off the bike, but a total animal on it, it's great to see Remi Thirion return to the top 10.

Remi Thirion put down a heater of a run and stayed in the hotseat all the way through until Brook Macdonald had a say about it. Keep in mind that Brook dropped in with less than 10 riders to go.
Thirion put down a heater of a run and stayed in the hotseat all the way through until Macdonald had a say about it. Keep in mind that Brook dropped in with less than 10 riders to go.

David Trummer really must be concerned some kind of man of the match here in Andorra. Qualifying 4th and then holding on for 7th all out the back of his van. Respect.
David Trummer backed up a massive qualie result and did it all out the back of his van. Respect.

David Trummer is on the form of his life. The Austrian ended up 7th just back from the podium.
Trummer is on the form of his life. The Austrian ended up 7th, just back from the podium.

A weekend to forget for Finn Iles with mechanicals in both his qualifying and finals run.
A weekend to forget for many including Finn Iles with mechanicals in both his qualifying and finals run.

Brook MacDonald lives for the steep and loose. This was a good week for him and an aggressive finals run saw him only very narrowly miss the podium.
Brook Macdonald lives for the steep and loose. This was a good week for him and an aggressive finals run saw him only very narrowly miss the podium.

Brook Macdonald was first to dethrone Thirion from the hotseat and would finish just off the podium in sixth.
Macdonald was first to dethrone Thirion from the hotseat and would finish in sixth.

Danny Hart is having such a consistent weekend finish on the podium at every round so far. He won t be content with that though as he only has his eyes on the number 1 spot
Danny Hart is having such a consistent season, ending up on the podium at every round so far. He won't be content with that, though, as he only has his eyes on the number 1 spot

Danny Hart saw green splits until the top four came down. Fifth spot for him on this blown out track.
Hart saw green splits until the top four came down. Fifth spot for him on this blown out track.

Loris Vergier boosting off the infamous road gap pioneered by Bernard Kerr earlier in the week.
Loris Vergier boosting off the infamous 'road gap' pioneered by Bernard Kerr earlier in the week. This was first year the gap was actually cleared after much talk over the years.

An incredible bottom section had Vergier just 0.4 off the win for the second year in a row.
An incredible bottom section had Vergier just 0.4 off the win for the second year in a row.

Vergier sees Trummer and MacDonald off the hot seat.
Vergier sees David Trummer off the hot seat.

Amaury Pierron was always going to be a danger man here in Commencal country and indeed any track put infront of him. 4th for the defending series champ.
Amaury Pierron was always going to be a danger man here and indeed any track put in front of him. 4th for the defending series champ.

Amaury is loved by all here in Commencal country.
Amaury is loved by all here in Commencal country.

Troy Brosnan pulling up into a sneaky line in an attempt to avoid about 10 meters of bombed out trail.
Troy Brosnan pulling up into a sneaky line in an attempt to avoid about 10 meters of bombed out trail.

Troy diving into the finish arena.
Troy diving into the finish arena.

The La Massana track is a beast. Troy Brosnan takes a moment to recoup after 4 minutes of holding on.
The La Massana track is a beast. Brosnan takes a moment to recover after 4 minutes of holding on.

Loic Bruni snaking his way towards the line.
Loic Bruni snaking his way towards the line.

Loic Bruni smashing the final turn. Everyone knew Loris s time would be a tough one to beat but at 2.8 seconds up at split one Loic had the answer.
Bruni smashing the final turn. Everyone knew Loris's time would be a tough one to beat but at 2.8 seconds up at split one, Loic had the answer.

The moment Loic Bruni realised he d taken his third win of the season.
The moment Loic Bruni realised he'd taken his third win of the season.

Flashback to 2015 Worlds for the man in the rainbow stripes.

He may have displaced him from the hot seat and denied him the win but Loris Vergier was the first to congratulate his old team mate and life long friend.
He may have displaced him from the hot seat and denied him the win, but Loris Vergier was the first to congratulate his old team mate and life long friend.

New levels of savagery in the Vergier-Bruni-Pierron wolf-pack battle are to be expected next weekend on home soil.
New levels of savagery in the Vergier-Bruni-Pierron wolf-pack battle are to be expected next weekend on home soil.

3 out of 4. Loic Bruni is really starting to gather momentum is this 2019 World Cup campaign.
3 out of 4. Loic Bruni is really starting to gather momentum in this 2019 World Cup campaign.

Yeah it s steep in Andorra.
Yeah, it's steep in Andorra.

True love or French tradition... Let s say both.
True love or French tradition...? Let's say both.

Loris Vergier was oh so close to a repeat performance from 2018.
Loris Vergier was oh-so-close to a repeat performance from 2018.

Fast mens club Vallnord 2k19. Bruni Vergier Brosnan Pierron and Hart
Fast men's club, Vallnord 2k19. Bruni, Vergier, Brosnan, Pierron, and Hart

The only precipitation this weekend was the champagne.
The only precipitation this weekend was the champagne.

It was all calm and quiet this morning before things became loud and hectic in the afternoon
Fine racing and finer weather... too fine you might say. Onwards to round 5 and perhaps some cooler Mont Blanc air would be appreciated.

Thanks for hosting Vallnord Andorra. That was one fine competition. Onwards to round 5.
Thanks for hosting, Vallnord. That was one fine competition. Now Les Gets this racing circus packed up and on to what's next....



37 Comments

  • + 86
 Unreal!!! These Frenchies are like watching brothers growing up into Men who are still just boys but loving every minute of it! Stoked for the compassionate competitive heart in the sport of mtb rn! Just mad Respect ✊
  • + 17
 One of the best things about WC racing right now for sure!
  • + 49
 The photos these days are truly unreal, well done photographers.
  • + 7
 I was just thinking how insane these photos are... amazing... Well done!
  • + 4
 They look better than reality.
  • + 5
 Did the roosted camera body survive?
  • + 1
 Crash or no, that Bruce Klein pic needs to be in the next photo contest!
  • + 28
 Again, denim guy will miss next race due to work, Wyn needs to make a phone call.
  • + 2
 Damn, just added him to my fantasy team - thanks for the warning!
  • + 12
 The way Bruni left that start gate was insane, he just mash d the pedals where everyone else was pumping! His race was one at that first spilt and his consistency (which I never thought I’d say about him in previous seasons) paired with that fitness just paid off! Great sportsmanship too
  • + 15
 Huge Kudos to David Trummer, what a beast of a run in the lower section(s), top dawg!!!
  • + 12
 Bruni with real skid marks on his drawers. So baller.
  • + 1
 Yeah, I remember seeing that on Hart when he first tried to go 29er, and peeps were talking about it being evidence of a 29 not working for short folks. A little contact on the steepest part of the run isn't a big deal, but if it is consistently limiting the rider's range of motion then it is a good argument for running a smaller rear wheel.
  • + 1
 @thekaiser: Bruni is still running 27.5" in the rear.
  • + 10
 RIP your sensors. Incredible work out there guys!
  • + 3
 Did you see the photographer get his camera caught in Hoffmann's bike in the Women's race?
  • + 9
 daprela second split .. on the same second as brosnan and vergier. This guy is definitely the next vouilloz
  • + 4
 Let's see. Illes and Walker regularly put down top times amongst the elites when they were juniors but they've even said the step up to Elite is difficult. But will probably be good anyway!
  • + 5
 Frenchy podium that's awesome
  • + 3
 how did andy vathis get shots of brosnan in two totally different places in the same run? remote controlled camera?
  • + 6
 Different runs I guess Wink You see it quite often they use shots from training to create the narrative for the race run (for example a camera on the helmet in one shot (training) and not in the other (race run))
  • + 1
 Nope just possible to shoot both from same vantage point near the finish line Smile
  • + 3
 Ah sorry just checked back what we ran and the first shot is from training with the sleeve as evidence!
  • + 2
 @natedh9: Yeah, similar to Danny Hart being in long pants in the first pic, and shorts in the next one.
  • + 2
 @thekaiser: No that one is definitely just disintegration from speed
  • + 3
 Bruni deathgrip on the last berm, while Vergier has fingers on the brakes… All difference is here :-)
  • + 2
 Definitely right. Without that strong grip and power pedalling Bruni wouldn't had gained 0.4s over Vergier, meaning Vergier did that finishline berm a bit smoothly by keeping higher speed. IMO.
  • + 4
 Danny was so fast he lost the bottom of his race pants !!
  • + 1
 Good one pink bike, accurate as ever... 'An incredible bottom section had Vergier just 0.4 off the win for the second year in a row'
  • + 2
 Cool podium: the Redbull guy in the middle triumphs over the four Monster-Energy dudes around him...
  • + 2
 David Trummer is a beast! And Mr Denim is my fav, whatta dude
  • + 0
 Does someone know something worse than Red Bull TV to broadcast major events?
  • + 2
 Nice work, Patrick!
  • + 1
 It makes me happy seeing people race WCDH with no gloves.
  • + 1
 Photo feast, great job PB.
  • + 1
 nice brakes amaury.

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