Lourdes Have Mercy: Practice - Lourdes DH World Cup 2016

Apr 8, 2016
by Nathan Hughes  



Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, here it is, the moment you've all been waiting the past six months for. Today's practice session in Lourdes, France officially opens the 2016 World Cup Downhill series, and believe us when we tell you... It was well worth the wait.

In this village most well known for miracles, the only holy water in sight was falling from the sky to create one of the most rowdy opening WC rounds we have seen in many years. Though the track remains completely unchanged from a year ago, it is anything but the same, and with rain falling heavy each night and intermittently through the day it is in a constant state of flux. With each passing run things change and just as riders begin to feel comfortable, or things begin to dry up, the heavens open up one again to wipe the slate clean and send everyone back to the drawing board.

Just when the riders think the track in Lourdes will show them some mercy, it goes and does the complete opposite.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.

Spring is still a few weeks away here in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Spring is still a few weeks away here in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Incredible views for hundreds of KMs from the top of the mountain came in and out with extreme weather all day.

Finn Iles was hot to get to it this morning drifting right out of the gate on his first run.
Finn Iles was hot to get to it this morning, drifting right out of the gate on his first run.

Manon Carpenter running into the chaos at the top of the track during morning practice.
Manon Carpenter running into the chaos at the top of the track during morning practice.

We last saw Brage Vestavik at Hafjell Worlds a couple years back as a course sweep and he looked like one to watch. Now he is racing as a Junior with Devinci Global racing. He still looks to be promising young talent.
We last saw Brage Vestavik at Hafjell Worlds a couple years back as a course sweep and he looked like one to watch. Now he is racing as a Junior with Devinci Global racing. He still looks to be promising young talent.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Myriam with the rare chance to watch the madness unfold from the safety of behind the tape.

Rachel Atherton easily took the fastest time in training today. She was some four seconds up on the field.
Rachel Atherton easily took the fastest time in training today. She was some four seconds up on the field.

Tahnee Seagrave was third fastest in timed training. She was looking pretty darn comfortable out there on the new whip.
Tahnee Seagrave was third fastest in timed training. She was looking pretty darn comfortable out there on the new whip.

Tahnee Seagrave found out just how slippery it is on track not 30 seconds into her first practice run.
But would find out just how slippery it is on track, not 30 seconds into her first practice run.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Plenty of wild moments to witness out on track this morning.

Last year s almost winner Tracey Hannah is out for revenge here in Lourdes and was looking quick in the slick morning practice.
Last year's almost winner, Tracey Hannah is out for revenge here in Lourdes and was looking quick in the slick morning practice.

Sam Dale was nothing but smiles to have the first practice of the season underway.
Sam Dale was nothing but smiles to finally get the season underway.

Loic Bruni was looking very fast all day. He was 26th fastest in timed training but his timed training run was when the track was at its absolute worst.
Loic Bruni was looking very fast all day. Don't let his 26th in timed training fool you though. His timed training run was when the track was at its absolute worst with rain pouring down.

Loris Vergier ended last season with a string of top ten results and a podium. Let s see if he s built on that form over the winter and pull off another good one here in Lourdes.
Loris Vergier ended last season with a string of top ten results and a podium. Let's see if he's built on that form over the winter to pull off another good one here in Lourdes.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Josh Bryceland waits on a red flag and spreads the word at the same time.

Remi Thirion is a ninja in the mud and on tech tracks so it s no surprise he went quickest in timed training before the rain fell.
Remi Thirion is a ninja in the mud and on tech tracks so it's no surprise he went quickest in timed training before the rain fell.

With storm clouds moving in and out all day it was quite dark in the French woods.
With storm clouds moving in and out all day, it was quite dark in the French woods.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Phil Atwill is once again dropping some jaws getting disgracefully loose all the way down.

After injury took Andrew Nettling out of contention last year he is another rider looking to start things fresh in 2016.
After injury took Andrew Neethling out of contention last year, he is another rider looking to start things fresh in 2016.

The 1 means business and definitely has something to prove after making some boys team moves in the off season.
The #1 means business and definitely has something to prove after making some bold team moves in the off season.

Troy ended last year as the fastest man on track but suffered a string of crashes in his final runs. Lourdes seems like as good a place as any to seek redemption so we expect to see his on the podium come Sunday.
Troy ended last year as the fastest man on track but suffered a string of crashes in his final runs. Lourdes seems like as good a place as any to seek redemption, so we expect to see him on the podium come Sunday.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Watch out, the GOAT's about.

The Bull Dog smashing his way down the track on his new GT Fury.
The Bull Dog smashing his way down the track on his new GT Fury.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
#gwizzard.

We had all the weather today rain snow sleet sun wind and clouds. It made for an interesting day and the riders had a wild time coming to grips with the constant track evolution.
We had all the weather today: rain, snow, sleet, sun, wind, and clouds. It made for an interesting day, and the riders had a wild time coming to grips with the constant track evolution.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Smith is on it - looking super solid from the off, he bagged one of the fastest laps of the day.

Greg Minnaar ripping his XXL V10. We will have an in depth look at this beast very soon.
Greg Minnaar ripping his XXL V10. We will have an in depth look at this beast very soon.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
New team, same bad-boy WynTV style.

Gee Atherton slip-sliding through the slop on the last run of the day.
Gee Atherton slip-sliding through the slop on the last run of the day.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Dangerous Dan's ready for a rowdy a weekend of big bikes.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
The rains came, the hail fell... tomorrow isn't looking too comfortable either.

Pretty sure the holy water is going to get funky if these bikes keep collecting so much mud.
Pretty sure the holy water is going to get funky if these bikes keep collecting so much mud.

Luca Shaw was convinced that it was easier to ride down the track today even when it was at its most precarious than to walk down it.
Luca Shaw was convinced that it was easier to ride down the track today, even when it was at its most precarious, than to walk down it.

Cut spikes. Just about everyone is running them. You should too if you re racing here.
Cut spikes. Just about everyone is running them. You should too, if you're racing here.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Super Bruni on a telemetry burner during the worst of the storm.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.

Sam Hill monster trucking though the rocks at the bottom of the track.
Sam Hill, monster trucking through the rocks at the bottom of the track.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Greg Williamson dives into the chicanes before the death chute on board his Cube.

Minnarr wasn t showing his card in practice but if we ve learned anything from Greg over the years it s that he s always fast on race day.
Minnaar wasn't showing his cards in practice, but if we've learned anything from Greg over the years it's that he's always fast on race day.

Pinned and confident all day no matter the conditions for Marcelo Gutierrez.
Pinned and confident all day no matter the conditions for Marcelo Gutierrez.

Taylor Vernon cutting to the inside line as the rain fell mid practice in an effort to keep riders on their toes.
Taylor Vernon cutting to the inside line as the rain fell mid practice in an effort to keep riders on their toes.

Death grip it and rip it is Brendan s style and he is always one to watch out for in the wet.
Death grip it and rip it is Brendan's style, and he is always one to watch out for in the wet.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Bryceland shredding hard and loving every loose moment on track.

Fit fast and confident... The Rat is on form in Lourdes.
Fit, fast, and confident... The Rat is on form in Lourdes.

Images for Lourdes Have Mercy - DH WC Round 1 Practice article.
Smith: beard and bike game currently strong.

Sacred ground that adds pounds. The mud in Lourdes is weighty indeed.
Sacred ground that adds pounds. The mud in Lourdes is weighty indeed.

This is Loris Vergier s bike after just one run in the rain that started up at the end of times training.
This is Loris Vergier's bike after just one run in the rain that started up at the end of timed training.

A quick rinse in the holy water of Lourdes and all is like new again.
A quick rinse in the holy water of Lourdes and all is like new again.

There is a hint of blue sky here and there but we aren t trusting it.
There is a hint of blue sky here and there, but we aren't trusting it.



79 Comments

  • + 250
 Quality photos PB. Thank you; my stoke for this weekend just went up a few notches. There is nothing, nothing, like DH World Cup racing.
  • + 71
 Can't wait to hear "Look at the timmeee!!" from Warner! Gets me every time!
  • + 33
 Those are some of the most high quality and composed photos I have ever seen. Well done!
  • + 35
 Love the coverage but we need more Peaty!
  • + 5
 Nathan hughes always takes the best photos
  • + 2
 Loving the stategic runs, not showing lines. Moto tactics at fulll play and spectators can't wait.
  • + 9
 @AaGro: YES! MORE PEATY!
  • + 5
 Best pic ever...esp since it's his last yr! www.pinkbike.com/photo/12642441
  • + 5
 Ratboys gear is rad!
  • + 2
 @pedaldamn-it: MOAR PEATY!!! It's his LAST year, let's celebrate it PB.
  • + 47
 There is only one "Dangerous Dan" in mountain biking, and it's not Danny Hart.
  • + 0
 You got that right. Its not danny hart..
  • - 16
flag VPPFREEDOM (Apr 8, 2016 at 17:39) (Below Threshold)
 Damn you auto correct, it's "Downsy Danny" not "Dangerous Dan" #EpicFail
  • + 1
 y'know it
  • + 1
 Thought the very same thing... Not enough skinnies in world cup DH for that Dan.
  • + 1
 @tinfoil: dangerous Dan and his skinnies are epic. WC dh is epic as well..I have mad respect for anyone with stones that big
  • + 1
 @weebleswobbles: maybe all dudes named Dan have big balls?
  • + 1
 @pancakeflatted: most mtbikers in general have bigger stones than the average person based on our sport and its inherent dangers.. But guys like dangerous Dan are just another level entirely
  • + 43
 "Loic, he loves the slop, loves it, eats it. Eats the slop. Born to slop. His father was a mudder. His mother was a mudder."
"His mother was a mudder?"
"What did I just say?"
  • + 1
 Classic!
  • + 2
 Ha golden pony boy
  • + 18
 Glad to see smith back on it, i hope he will do good this season with all the injuries he had in the last 2 years.
  • + 5
 Chainsaw massacre part 2. No offense to Gee but loved smiths victory from behind in points. All the best steve (the Canuck?)
  • + 11
 Six months of fat tires, electronics, "pedals great", progressive geometry. Just give the the most bad a$$ bikes ever created, Pinkbike, and top notch athletes. Welcome back World Cup, I have missed you!!
  • + 13
 Maxxis needs to make some Track walk Shoes!
  • + 11
 I am surprised more people do not wear the vest that Josh has on, it does not seem to restrict any movement and covers part of his spine.
  • + 1
 Does anybody know what it is? I have an old one but it's designed differently and is very awkward. Would like something similar and that seems like it would be good
  • + 11
 ratboy with the roost guard
  • + 1
 Does anybody know which one that is?
  • + 1
 @FindDigRideRepeat: dunno why u are getting neg propped for that i would like to know that too.
  • + 2
 @FindDigRideRepeat: found out looks like its the Fox Raptor vest CE with the shoulders removed from it.
  • + 7
 YA YA YA I AM LOURDES YA YA
  • + 7
 That last picture is twisting my mind
  • + 2
 I'm going back up to slowly, methodically pour over ever picture, but I came here to say this first. I'M SO EXCITED!!!! I kind of got over hockey the last time we had a riot for losing a game, and DH season has become my new sport to digest. Thanks the Lourdes.
  • + 2
 I looked at the photos... and they are fantastic as per usual... but I couldn't really appreciate them... because honestly it was too hard to focus as my brain is going a mile minute wondering who is gonna do it for qualies and finals!!
  • + 1
 As I know Aaron Gwin used to set the bike so stiff and also we know the YT Tues is a very progressive bike, so I´d like to se how those factors will (or not) affect his performance at race. I saw a raw video and he seens so light on a rock garden section.
  • + 2
 "Myriam with the rare chance to watch the madness unfold from the safety of behind the tape"..........

She missed the exact same 1st race last season, so not really rare is it?
  • + 1
 What is up with myriam this time, injury?
  • + 1
 @weebleswobbles: shoulder again
  • + 4
 @Knuckle89: dam was hoping to see myriam show the whole world how its done in france
  • + 2
 Gutted. Def was looking forward to seeing her sending it.
  • + 3
 Crikey I though she was pregnant! looking at that photo...
  • + 4
 The stoke is strong...like Steve Smith beard strong.
  • + 1
 There are a few helmet cams there and plenty of mounts. Anything attached to the helmet is supposed to be banned by the UCI. Did the rules change this year?
  • + 3
 Praise the Lourdes! DH is back!
  • + 1
 Echoing the other comments, very excited about the new season and absolutely incredible photo's Smile
  • + 1
 Can we please talk about how terrible Rayboy looks off of his bike in his ridiculous pants????
  • + 1
 Life is just about to get rowdy. Thanks PB for some wicked photos to get me even more stoked than I already am for Sunday.
  • + 2
 PB has done it again. Epic photos!
  • + 1
 :-)l propped you for that. But actually who cares? But then again love the fire engine redness. And what about the chest protector? Not a lot of upper body armour in the field generally is there even with rocks galore? Has the Rat got the right idea? Discuss....
  • + 1
 that was @ UPBike by the way.
Sorry too much coffee & stokecitement.
  • + 1
 Good Luck to all racing this weekend, one hell of a challenge,be a great race to watch can't wait.
  • + 1
 Troy and Bruni cut speed holes in their number plates for cables. Is that allowed?
  • + 1
 I see Gwin tried to eat some dirt but the helmet got in the way...
  • + 2
 Ratboy for the "W"
  • + 1
 if it's wet hart hill or bruni
  • + 1
 Yes, yes and thrice yes........... deliver us from evil Lord :-)
  • + 1
 No pics of Manon ?? Is she hurt ??
  • + 1
 Definetly chose the wrong weekend for a hiking trip ...
  • + 1
 This entire article is filled with POD's. I mean, DAMN!!!
  • + 2
 BRAAAP!!!
  • + 1
 The muddy drive train pic says it all
  • + 1
 Awesome photos as usual, going to be one heck of a weekend!!
  • + 1
 There could be a POTY in here, damn!
  • + 1
 HYPE TRAIN PASSING THRU! Choo choo!! Can't eait for Sunday's action!!
  • - 1
 A bit off topic... Anyone know when Sunday 12:30 GMT translates to in PST?

Merci Gracias Danke Fanks
  • + 1
 Think 530am
  • + 1
 @petershaw05 & @louif23: thanks both- PST is GMT -8 so 5:30 AM like the Worlds was last year I believe. That means beer for breakfast.
  • + 1
 Wow, that looks gnarly.
  • + 1
 Should be epic!!
  • + 1
 Photos are incredible
  • - 1
 It that a steering dampener on Loic Bruni's front fork?
  • + 1
 His front fork? All this time I thought my bike had a fork and a shock but now with two forks this might become a fancy dinner
  • + 0
 @weebleswobbles: If I remember right, the correct form is "front forks". Written by the same transgender, black, Muslim vegan who invented the terms like "sexually challenged" or "fat shaming".
  • + 1
 Yes sorry the painkillers from my surgery got me all loopy..all I am certain of is I'm very excited about this world cup season and also very excited about my own recovery and return to the bike.. Cheers
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