The Swiss high mountains, where the view out the window ain't half bad... This afternoon under jagged granite peaks and bright blue skies, fears of the effects of dreaded 'bike-parkification' evaporated as quickly as the moisture left the track while riders got down to serious WC business for the first time in nearly a month. What began as damp hard-pack finished the day as stashes of loose gravel, moon-dust and big holes, with the wide taping leading to some serious line-choice dilemmas for the world's elite. Some even called it a day early, with the likes of Danny Hart skipping TT to get up on a track with a stopwatch for a better guess at exactly which combinations were truly paying off. Casualties fell thick and fast, with both 'the Plunge' and the gnarly triple sender acting as the main perpetrators of the violence. Healing vibes to Innes Graham in particular who, at the time of writing, is believed to have broken his leg.
Gwin, Hannah, and Cougoureux claimed the 'victories' of timed training in the three categories and all certainly have a shot at reigning supreme here in Graubuenden. Those three could hold it down all the way until the big show this Saturday, but we all love surprises and the stage is of course still wide open...
Lenzerheide unabashedly turns the charm-o-meter up to eleven and leaves it there.
Mountain lupins as far as the eye can see... At least when you're looking through a very zoomed lens.
Blue skies and glass calm waters. It was shaping up to be a brilliant day in the Swiss Alps.
Laurie Greenland, both stoked and amped simultaneously. He is 'stamped'... Like a lot of the top racers ahead of the first practice today.
The semi-bionic limb of a young Norwegian, finally back to the races after his huge crash in Cairns... Welcome back Brage Vestavik.
Getting it right. Right down to the millimeter.
Marcello is unfortunately out for this race with a shoulder injury sustained after Crankworx, so this morning he donned the blue rubber gloves and took a mechanic's 101 with Giant Factory expert Paul Miles.
High speed and big rocks means lots of wheel building for the mechanics.
Tom Duncan models what's left of Sam Dales' wheels after Crankworx Les Gets. Needless to say that was a tough one on bikes...
A detail shot of Troy's jerseys complete with dogs shooting laser beams from their eyes.
Rach looking forward to first runs early this morning.
Atherton takes the straight line through the rocks, while many others cut to the riders' left to get a better line into the switchback below.
Mark Wallace has a custom FOX helmet modeled after the one worn by Stevie Smith in 2013.
The Ratboy leading out Steve Peat during practice. Josh qualified 4th here in 2015, but threw it away in the final so this time it's war.
Manon dropping into the top berms in morning practice session. Manon was second fastest in timed training today.
Lots of riders pulled over to have a long look at the rock garden this morning.
Tracey Hannah had the fastest time in the afternoon's timed training session, and while she said it took her a while to get up to speed here, it's safe to say she is definitely on the right pace.
SDS rider, Noel Niederberger, repping the whip for the home nation.
Andrew Neethling had a strong day and is looking to shake off some bad luck that has followed him around all season.
Morgane Charre rode to 4th here last time, but will have to pull out all the stops for another podium repeat, especially with Pompon back on the scene.
Mick Hannah is riding super aggressive, and looks right at home of the loose rocky surface that is giving many riders trouble.
Ruarydh Cunningham pins it through some very tight trees.
Gee Atherton sending it with some style and the yellow team leader's plate.
Myriam Nicole and Gaetan Ruffin share their line knowledge in the upper woods while watching the TT. Great to see Pompon back in the mix!
A new bike, some fresh kit and 6th fastest TT for Adam Brayton this weekend.
Cous Cous found wearing his helmet like this kept the sun off the back of his neck quite nicely.
Brage Vestavik may have badly injured his back and knee in Aus, but his riding says he is feeling back to normal.
Greg Williamson has been on a tear this season. Let's hope he can keep up the momentum and maybe even move up in the rankings.
Connor Fearon floating it above the rough stuff. Fearon was fifth fastest in timed training.
Mick Hannah had an off in practice, but that didn't stop him from laying down the speed. Third fastest in timed training.
American Charlie Harrison charging through the Swiss Alps.
The Gwizard with all the tricks up his sleeve this time.
Alex McAndrew made the trip to Lenzerheide from the United States to race his second ever World Cup.
Danny Hart whipping it up for the media.
Sylvain Courgoureux once again impressed throwing down the hottest TT lap for the junior men.
Steve Peat sending his own creation (i.e. the Straightline DH course) in his fanciful get-up.
Greg Minnaar is on the hunt for another win and he could do it here. He was second quickest in timed training.
Alex Fayolle piloting his Polygon down the ever-awkward stump-drop-turn.
Remi Thirion was 12th in timed training today. The Frenchman is looking fast on this track and could be on for a top weekend.
Mark Wallace making quick work of the woods.
Gee sending the top rocks at warp for an 8th in TT. Last year he rode to 5th so he's in with a good shout of dropping the plate back to single figures.
Greg Minnaar looking about as delighted with practice today as he did here last year. Then he went and won, so we should expect no changes to the schedule this time round.
Sam Hill isn't afraid of a little loose dust.
Loris Vergier takes The Plunge and is now part of the very elusive top 5 club in the overall standings.
Danny keeps it low trying to carry maximum speed into the big triple.
Don't let all the big berms fool you. There are still a few gnarly, rooty sections here in Lenzerheide.
Luca Shaw cutting it about as inside as you can get.
Conditions are dry and dusty, and it looks like the weather will hold for the weekend!
Gee Atherton boosts the big step up about half way down.
George Brannigan is back to 100% after taking a few weeks to recover from the massive crash he took in Fort William.
Brook MacDonald was charging in practice.
Eliot getting a little bit loose.
The always fast, and always stylish Finn Iles.
Sven Martin found some precarious footing from which to shoot some fisheye whips.
It's not all groomers out here, especially on the inside lines.
Troy Brosnan scrubbing hard on the table on the way into the infamous triple.
Myriam Nicole finally sending it again out on track after missing much of the season with an injury.
Alex Marin drops into the first steep switchback below the rocks garden.
Eliot Heap is one of the favorites to keep an eye on in the Juniors.
Cube Global Squad's Greg Williamson looks to be every bit on course for another top-drawer performance here in Switzerland.
Laurie Greenland is slowly creeping towards that top 10 number plate.
Aaron Gwin put some big time into everyone during timed training today. He also has some very clever and risky lines that just might be what's making the difference.
It's both loose and rough in the open sections.
Last man down the hill today was Johannes Fischbach. He came in hot for the triple and thought his speed was enough that he didn't need to pull up so hard... Unfortunately the math didn't work out and he went down in brutal fashion. Whether the risk of the jump is worth the reward remains to be seen.
It's a tough gig for a top racer to sit it out on the sidelines while things get wild between the tape without you..
No mud this weekend. Just lots and lots of fine dust.
Wyn just keeping it chill in the GT pits.
Gee does a little post-practice GoPro footage review while Rach takes a little phone-time to relax.
The dirty cow gets a bath.