Finals Photo Epic: The Puzzle - Val Di Sole World Cup DH 2019

Aug 3, 2019
by Nathan Hughes  


Photo Epic presented by Five Ten


The Black Snake is a boa constrictor to the brain for most riders, even with a modicum of consistency of conditions. A track wider and rougher than any other, even a couple of seasons ago when this iteration of the course was first conceived, it is now almost completely devoid of any comforting loam; more eroded and savage than ever. Throw in one gratuitously violent storm for qualies and then pour two or three hours more heavy rain on top and no amount of muscle could save you from the wrestle with the kind of slippery python that reared its ugly head. From that point, it became a thinking man's race, a jigsaw with great boulder-sized puzzle pieces that to all but most bicycle-astute, just did not fit well together.

Riders were left with the biggest head-scratcher of the season so far; how to approach race day on a track that had destroyed their confidence and weathered their mettle so badly. As the Italian sun heated the ground back up, the grip was surely returning to the most treacherous sections, but to what extent? Few could be sure, but four riders got it exactly right; the first time winners in each category. Mille Johnset took her maiden victory for team Atherton and Norway, leading out a bewildered Vali Holl. Kiwi junior, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, as much a surprise to himself as anyone else, found himself on the top step ahead of another unfamiliar face, Zak Gomilscek of Slovenia. Meanwhile, in the women's race, Marine Cabirou brought the French revolution over to the women's field with a colossal virgin win of over 11 seconds. Cabirou's growth in skill and confidence is absolutely plain to see, with or without three of the biggest female names present, even finding time for style on the finish jump.

The near-unrideable conditions of men's qualifying yesterday had bordered on the farcical and although blue skies prevailed, the start order was in disarray. To some riders all the change had clearly burrowed far too deep inside their heads, wreaking irreparable damage and with no chance of restoring the shattered trust in time. For Laurie Greenland, that was not the case and following a rip-roaring display of superiority on the most challenging course on the circuit, victory was his by a sizeable 2.8 seconds. Always capable of a breath-taking charge down the gauntlet, Greenland came into the race with the formidable CV of a second-place here in 2018 and a silver medal at the 2016 World Champs. The completely ecstatic and almost speechless winner was able to explain the combination of brains and brawn he used to wrap this one up, even using some special lines his dad had suggested from the walk they made together three years before. We now look ahead to Switzerland and the final rounds of the series, hoping for a little more of the same crazy drama. It's all we know in this business after all.

Hello sunshine. A tremendous relief for all concerned to have such a contrasting day of weather after the carnage of qualifying.
Hello sunshine. A colossal relief for all concerned to have such a contrasting day of weather after the carnage of qualifying.

Here comes the noise.
Here comes the noise.

Vali Holl warming up as the sun began to shine in Val di Sole
Vali Höll warming up as the sun began to shine in Val di Sole.

Anna Newkirk would take third in Junior Women
Anna Newkirk would take third in Junior Women.

Vali Holl got taken down fair and square by Johnset on this track and Holl was the first to admit she struggled with this slippery Italian serpent from the start.
Höll was the first to admit she struggled with this slippery Italian serpent from the start. She got taken down fair and square by Mille Johnset this time.

Mille Johnset was the first racer of the day to be part of the first time winners circle.
Norwegian, Johnset, was the first racer to join the first-time winners' circle today.

Your top 3 junior women in Val di Sole 1st Mille Johnset 2nd Vali H ll 3rd Anna Newkirk
Your top three junior women in Val di Sole: 1st Mille Johnset, 2nd Vali Höll & 3rd Anna Newkirk.

Fast kids club meet at the top of the hill first thing morning.
Fast kids club meets at the top of the hill, first thing in the morning.

Thankfully the mud tires were packed away today as the sun began to rapidly dry yesterday s water logged track
Thankfully, the mud tires were packed away today as the sun began to rapidly dry yesterday's waterlogged track.

Zak Gomilscek takes his first podium and only 0.3 off the win.
Zak Gomilscek takes his first podium and only 0.3 seconds off the win.

Kye A Hern charging into third place.
Kye A'Hern charging into third place.

Lucas Cruz s hopes of the podium were dashed in a big crash. We were glad to see him get up unscathed and finish off his run.
Lucas Cruz's hopes of the podium were dashed in a big crash. We were glad to see him get up unscathed and finish off his run.

Out nowhere the winner of the Junior Men s race would be Tuhoto -Ariki Pene from New Zealand
Out of nowhere, the winner of the Junior Men's race would be Tuhoto-Ariki Pene from New Zealand.

Huge first World Cup win for Tuhoto-Ariki Pene. Well deserved on this unforgiving track.
Huge first World Cup win for this racer from a land far, far away. Well deserved on this unforgiving track.

Tuhoto-Ariki Pene still in disbelief as the podiums get on.
Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, still in disbelief as the podiums get on.

Your top 3 junior men in Val di Sole 1st Tuhoto-Ariki Pene 2nd Zak Gomilscek 3rd Kye A Hern
Your top three junior men in Val di Sole: 1st Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, 2nd Zak Gomilscek, 3rd Kye A'Hern

Pasty dirt and trecherous roots greeted the elite men and women for practice after junior finals. Over the next few hours before finals the grip level rocketed back up towards those of day 1 and timed training.
Pasty dirt and treacherous roots greeted the elite men and women for practice after junior finals. Over the next few hours, things remained sketchy before the grip level rocketed back up to that of timed training.

Marine Cabirou put the work in here in Italy from the outset and it paid off a treat.
Marine Cabirou put the work in here in Italy from the outset and it paid off.

Marine Cabirou annihilated the competition today a commanding way to take her debut victory.
Cabirou annihilated the competition today, a commanding debut victory.

Veronika Widmann had more to give on this course but mistakes cost her and she had to settle for 4th place on home soil.
Veronika Widmann had more to give on this course, but mistakes cost her and she had to settle for 4th place on home soil.

Nina Hofmann exploded a wheel during a big crash in her run
Nina Hoffmann exploded a wheel during a big crash in her run.

Nina Hofmann s day in a nutshell
Hoffmann's day, in a nutshell.

Camille Balanche takes her first podium with an emphatic 3rd place.
Camille Balanche takes her first podium with an emphatic 3rd place.

The game face of Camille Balanche as she crossed the line with a time that would land her in 3rd
The game face of Camille Balanche as she crossed the line.

Emilie Siegenthaler back on pace as she closed out the women s podium.
Emilie Siegenthaler back on pace as she closed out the women's podium.

A crash then a flat derailed Eleonora Farina s day in form too her home crowd. GVisibly upset in the finnish area friends and family tried to console her best they could
A crash, then a flat derailed Eleonora Farina's day in front of her home crowd. Visibly upset in the finish area, friends and family tried to console her.

Marine Cabirou whipping over the last jump and well into the green over the rest of the field. Another first today as she takes the win.
Cabirou whipping over the last jump and well into the green over the rest of the field.

Cabirou lit up. What a season it s been for her.
Lit up. What a season it's been for the young French woman.

Cabirou knew that her run would be tough to beat
Cabirou knew that her run would be tough to beat.

Tracey Hannah pushed hard and made a few mistakes in the process but in the end she was no match for Marine Cabirou
Tracey Hannah pushed hard and made a few mistakes in the process. She was no match for Marine Cabirou today.

The reaction on the hot seat as soon as the W was official.
The reaction on the hot seat as soon as the win was official.

It was an emotional one for Marine Cabirou who took her first World Cup win my a massive twelve seconds
It was an emotional one for Marine Cabirou who took her first World Cup win by a massive twelve seconds.

Fastest women in the west... Cabirou Hannah Ballanche Widmann and Siegenthaler.
Fastest women in the west... Cabirou, Hannah, Ballanche, Widmann and Siegenthaler.

The only rain we got on Saturday was champagne showers and the women didn t seem to mind.
The only rain on Saturday was champagne showers. The women didn't seem to mind.

Victory. It s sweet.
Victory. It's sweet.

The thought on everyone s mind after yesterdays fiasco
The thought on everyone's mind after yesterday's fiasco.

Talks about line choice continued well after practice was done. This one s a tough one to crack.
Talks about line choice continued well after practice was done.

This track beats bodies and bikes alike. Henry Fitzgerald getting ready for battle as his bike is looked over.
This track beats bodies and bikes alike. Henry Fitzgerald, getting ready for battle as his bike is looked over.

Hugo Frixtalon laying it over out of the woods on his final run
Hugo Frixtalon laying it over out of the woods on his final run.

Loic Bruni kept catching up to pace in the splits but couldn t climb out of the red.
Loic Bruni was catching up to pace in the splits, but couldn't climb out of the red.

One untrustworthy riding service no bones about it.
One untrustworthy riding service, no bones about it.

Reece Wilson got faster and faster as the track went on ending up in 14th place.
Reece Wilson got faster and faster as his run went on, ending up in 14th place.

Amaury was not the only Pierron killing it out there on the hill today - Baptiste snuck into the top 10 too.
Amaury was not the only Pierron killing it out there on the hill today - Baptiste snuck into the top ten too.

Just outside the top ten was Charlie Hatton.
Just outside the top ten was Charlie Hatton.

A great ride from Charlie Hatton took him into 11th place and crucially puts him in a strong place for World Champs selection.
A great ride took Hatton into 11th place and put him in contention for the World Champs selection.

TB disgraced himself today the most appalling result we ve seen from him all season. 10th. A horriffic performace we can all agree.
Troy Brosnan disgraced himself today with the worst result we've seen from him all season. Tenth, a horrifying performance, we can all agree.

No lack of speed on this track. You have to be on the limiter to compete here.
No lack of speed on this track. You have to be on the limiter to compete here.

13th for the Denim Destroyer
Thirteenth for the Denim Destroyer.

Strong performance for Remi Thirion in both qualies and finals. Eighth place today.
Strong performance for Remi Thirion in both qualies and finals. Eighth place today.

0.1 seconds off the podium for rising star David Trummer. Insane form from the Austrian who s been been knocking on the door at the World Cup for many seasons.
Insane form once again from the Austrian who's been knocking on the door at the World Cup for many seasons.

David Trummer smashes in another top 10 result agonisingly missing out on the podium by less than a tenth.
David Trummer smashes another top ten result, agonisingly missing the podium by less than a tenth.

Loic Bruni launches out the woods and into the hot seat only kicked of the top spot by Greenland.
Loic Bruni launches out the woods and into the hot seat, soon to be kicked off the top spot by Greenland.

Full gas to the line from Bruni to take 2nd. He now leads the series with season that has seen him take three wins two seconds and a seventh
Full gas to the line from Bruni to take 2nd. He leads the series with a season that has seen him take three wins, two seconds, and a seventh.

On the podium hunt Danny Hart would come 5th
If there's a rider always hard on the hunt here in Val di Sole, it's Danny Hart.

Danny Hart will be gutted with 5th after being fastest at the top 2 splits and then picking up a flat somewhere towards the bottom of the track it s hard to know which position he would have been without it.
Hart will be gutted with 5th. He was fastest at the top two splits and then picked up a flat somewhere towards the bottom of the track. Hard to know which position he would have placed without it.

3rd place for Loris Vergier albeit nearly 5 seconds back from the winning time.
Third place for Loris Vergier, nearly five seconds back from the winning time.

After a rough start to the season Loris Vergier has found his form and is consistently landing himself on the podium
After a rough start to the season, Vergier has found his form, consistently landing himself on the podium.

After his early season wobble Vergier has crushed it ever since. 3rd place for the Syndicate s fastest Frenchman.
The Syndicate's fastest Frenchman continues to be a threat, anytime, anywhere.

the thousand yard stare of Amaury Pierron on his way to 4th
The thousand-yard stare of Amaury Pierron on his way to 4th.

What a ride from Greg minnaar who was on pace for 3rd before making a huge mistake in the last section of woods. He kept his composure though and would end the day just off the podium in 7th
What a ride from Greg Minnaar who was on pace for 3rd before making a huge mistake in the last section of woods. He kept his composure though, and would end the day just off the podium in 7th.

Minnaar awkwardly stands in the crowd and watches on with the fans as the remaining top qualifiers come down.
Weird to see Greg awkwardly standing in the crowd, watching on as the remaining top qualifiers made their way down.

Laurie Greenland always goes well here in Val di Sole so it s no surprise that this would be the venue for his first win.
Laurie Greenland always goes well here in Val di Sole, so it's no surprise that this would be the venue for his first win.

A slight inside for Greenland on Sam Hill s corner and still visibily carrying more speed than anyone.
Inside line for Greenland on Sam Hill's corner and visibly carrying more speed than anyone.

No luck for the Bulldog this time after a crash off camera but the fans were still keen to see him fly.
No luck for the Bulldog this time after a crash off-camera, but the fans were still keen to see him fly.

With a little bit of weather playing into his favour Forrest Riesco was one of the last to start. 15th and a Redbull live appearance is pretty damn good I d say.
With weather playing into his favour, Forrest Riesco was one of the last to start - 15th and a Redbull live appearance is pretty damn good, we'd say.

A valiant crack at the big time by the quiet Canadian Forrest Riesco. A 4th place qualie and a very commendable 15th in the big show.
A valiant crack at the big time by the quiet Canadian, Forrest Riesco.

Man of the match here in Italy surely goes to Davide Palazzari doing it for the home crowd. A multo buona qualie backed up with a massive 12th place in the final.
Man of the match here in Italy surely goes to Davide Palazzari, doing it for the home crowd. A "multo buona" qualie, backed up with a massive 12th place in the final.

The hotseat crew congratulate Palazzari on a good game.
The hot seat crew congratulate Palazzari on a good game.

There were a lot of eyes on this man today after his qualifying heroics. He d end up 25th in finals which is one of his strongest results to date.
There were a lot of eyes on this man today. After his qualifying heroics, Joe Breedon ended up 25th in finals - one of his strongest results to date.

It s been a while since we saw the number 55 plate in front of the last man down the mountain.
It's been a while since we've seen the number 55 plate in front of the last man down the mountain.

The long wait he had to endure will seem worth it now Everyone was stoked to witness Laurie Greenland take his first elite win.
The long wait he had to endure will seem worth it now! Everyone was stoked to witness Laurie Greenland take his first elite win.

The 2015 junior World Champ finally did it.
The 2015 junior World Champ finally did it.

Joe Breeden inspects his split times after being last man down the hill.
Joe Breeden inspects his split times after being the last man down the hill.

Mike Jones was the first to storm the finish corral in celebration of his teammate Laurie Greenland s first win
Mike Jones was the first to storm the finish corral in celebration of teammate Laurie Greenland's first win.

"Ecstatic" describes it.

These faces are getting familiar on the top steps.
These faces are getting familiar on the top steps.

Podium celebrations as Laurie Greenland won his first Wolrd Cup and put a temporary halt to the winning streaks of Loic Bruni and Amaury Pierron
Podium celebrations as Laurie Greenland's first World Cup victory puts a halt to the winning streaks of Loic Bruni and Amaury Pierron.

Greenland in near drowning incident.
Greenland in a near-drowning incident.

Laurie Greenland drinking in the first World Cup win
Laurie drinking in the first World Cup win.

It s always party when there s a new winner at the Word Cup
Always a party when there's a new winner at the World Cup.

Mick Hannah presented his tribute helmet to the family of Corado Herin on the podium to close things out in Val di Sole
Mick Hannah presented his tribute helmet to the family of Corrado Herin on the podium to close things out in Val di Sole.

And the battle rages on. Onwards to Switzerland
And the battle rages. Onwards to Switzerland!



50 Comments

  • + 35
 So how exactly do people justify paying 2-3k on wheels when guys like Bruni, Brosnan and Hart ride the most basic EX471 rims?
  • + 27
 It's like pulling teeth trying to explain it,
  • + 2
 @colincolin: too much money
  • + 3
 More dollars than sense?
  • + 5
 because greg minaar rides SC reserves? im just throwing stuff out there
  • + 7
 And how many rims/spokes do they go through in a race weekend? How many times do the wheels get rebuilt/trued?

Honestly why do people try comparing weekend warrior dentists to world cup downhill racers?
  • + 2
 tbf this is downhill and most people I know don't spend 2-3k on dh wheels. They spend it on trail wheels. Still not something i would do though.
  • + 3
 I don´t know, if there wasn´t a carbon wheelset on the bike I got now I would go again with EX471 because, you know, accidents happens and rim for something under 80 EUR which can actually survive Leogang under Gwin with no tire on...which you can replace after destroy without needed to be starving for months is really great.
Really I had these rims for 2 seasons, including a year in Whistler, on a trail bike, only single small dent after all that abusement, no issues at all, even the tires fit well on tubeless set-up.
  • + 2
 The real question is, has anyone ridden those new Michelin tires? Warner was getting a hard on every time he mentioned them.
  • + 3
 @Vulhelm: there's a podcast or interview somewhere with Troy, where he was saying that if you aren't breaking or denting or knocking a rim out of true at a WC, then you aren't going fast enough.
  • + 1
 I ride ex471 and they are a bloody tough rim!
  • + 26
 "Loic Bruni kept catching up to pace in the splits but couldn't climb out of the red."

This isn't really true as when Loic came down he smoked the rest of the guys who had gone before, until Laurie put in a better overall time.
  • + 24
 So, JVK aka denim destroyer ride a Commencal with Öhlins suspensions

"I'll take the frame of amaury and the suspensions of loic and a pair of jeans please"
  • + 9
 Petition to get this guy a double-denim race kit starts here
  • + 7
 Plus, cell phone in pocket for race run??
  • + 2
 @curtisbikes1: in case there is an emergency at the restaurant he manages.
  • + 1
 @mattg95: he would be happy just to find a dumpling chef so he can race world champs.
  • + 2
 @curtisbikes1: Goin for KOM
  • + 19
 is that a mobile phone on the right side pocket of Klebelsberg?
  • + 19
 Yes he doesnt want to miss important work calls
  • + 4
 He’s seeing if Tissot is as accurate as Strava.

It’s not.....Strava is waaaay more accurate.
  • + 2
 @dubod22: and important
  • + 1
 @petrospit: it’s funny how that is not even a lie lol
  • + 16
 Finally, they have found a good use for all the old, horrendous looking, gt frames that were never sold.
  • + 1
 Don't like the look of the middle one - looks a tad unstable to me!
  • + 14
 Every rider : i need safety gear properly, so i got zero injuries while accident....
JVK : give me a pair of jeans please. oh and my phone...
Ride down with earpod in his ear.......
  • + 14
 What’s Micks tribute helmet? I really feel like I missed something.
  • + 12
 a couple of months ago, Italian DH Legend Corrado Hering died in a crash with his ultralight glider. sad day.
  • + 6
 @Bruccio: ...and Mick Hannah had a Bluegrass helmet painted in tribute to Corrado.
  • + 3
 @rideonjon: yeah, SikMik is genuinely a good man
  • + 8
 mad props to Davide, and look at the photo of JVK: just grinning. Love it. Heartbroken for Ele and Vero, they both could have had better results. shit happens. Super stoked for Laurie, a victory long time coming. Marine: holy shit, girl.
  • + 8
 Now let's all remember Laurie almost didn't get an offer from a team after is Junior days...
  • + 7
 First of many wins for the kiwi, Surely!
  • + 4
 Danny Hart had first in the bag before his flat. Still getting 5th is crazy, rear tire was totally flat crossing the finish line.
  • + 5
 And minaar 7th after crashing. Insane
  • + 1
 Yeah Danny and Minnaar where both on heaters before their issues. I personally think Hart flatted way before people realized it. I think he was losing air as far up as when he washed that right hander out a little bit. HIs time was very impressive with a flat. Minnaar too. Would have been rad to see him in the top 3 again. He looked gutted. Still, having a pretty solid season outside of that first race where pretty much the entire Syndicate team blew up.
  • + 1
 In one of the Fox videos Loris said "you have to be insane to run an air shock on this track", but I noticed all the Commencal guys were on air. I wonder how the pretty unique suspension of the Supreme changes the standard coil vs air strengths+weaknesses?
  • + 3
 1,2,3 & 5 place on coil. JVK 13th on coil Commencal...
  • + 2
 loic is always with this horrible pants, in the other wise Vergier is always ripping with the best fox clothes, come on loic, get a new one
  • + 2
 @egb81.... the guy doing the teeth pulling is the only one who can afford it.. our good old friend the dentist Smile
  • + 2
 Thanks for the write-up & banger pics Nathan.
  • + 0
 That caption about Troy brosnan seems like kind of a rude armchair quarterback caption, since none of us can even come close to a 10th place finish at a world cup.....
  • - 1
 Especially since he rode with a swollen knee. The only thing that was disgraceful is the caption.
  • + 6
 @fiatpolski, cpeesel, are you guys joking? Tell me you’re joking.
  • + 7
 ...it was a joke. A... joke.
  • + 1
 I think Laurie Greenland was more surprised by his teammate's hand placement than he was with the win. Oh hellooooo!
  • - 3
 Troy Brosnan 'disgraces' himself with a 'horrifying' tenth place that we 'can all agree'?! No, I don't agree that he disgraced himself at all. Unnecessarily harsh words there.
  • + 10
 You need to call TeleSarcasm....
  • + 0
 That's not Greg!!! Smile
  • - 3
 Greenland putting MAVIC fucking back on top baby, what a legend!!!!!

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