What a race! Val di Sole brought us four new winners for the first time ever in a weekend packed with drama. The last time there was a new winner in every category was before the juniors were separated from the elites in 2004 when Gee Atherton and Marielle Saner both picked up their maiden victories in Schladming.
Val di Sole was at its most brutal this year and pretty much all the dirt had been washed away leaving the rocks and roots bared. On top of its line-choice puzzle, riders had to cope with battered bodies from a weekend of riding this unrelenting, four-minute assault.
Qualifying was a washout and didn't tell us much of anything as the first four riders down the hill ended up the fastest four on the day. The track retained its slipperiness on Saturday and riders were navigating sections that alternated between wet and dry, so knowing where to push and where to play safe was the key to winning. Those that were able to rise to the testing conditions put in commanding results. Marine Cabirou took the biggest winning margin in an elite World Cup race since Rachel Atherton during her unbeaten run at Fort William in 2016, while Laurie Greenland became only the second man ever to win four out of five splits in a World Cup race.
Let's get straight into the numbers to see who went fast and where:At a GlanceSector Times
The Story of the SessionMenIn DepthThe SectorsSector 1
1. Danny Hart - 51.407
2. Amaury Pierron +0.514
3. Loic Bruni +0.889
4. Dean Lucas +1.051
5. Greg Minnaar +1.146
1. Laurie Greenland - 1:03.493
2. Danny Hart +0.300
3. Greg Minnaar +0.687
4. Charlie Hatton +0.992
5. Loic Bruni +1.093
1. Laurie Greenland - 34.191
2. Remi Thirion +0.660
3. David Trummer +0.816
4. Greg Minnaar +0.934
5. Loic Bruni +0.969
1. Laurie Greenland - 37.250
2. Amaury Pierron +0.820
3. Loic Bruni +0.871
4. Johannes Von Klebelsberg +1.000
5. Davide Palazzari +1.102
1. Laurie Greenland - 30.288
2. Loic Bruni +0.222
3= Loris Vergier +0.706
3= Brook MacDonald +0.706
5. Reece Wilson +0.715
1. Marine Cabirou - 1:01.412
2. Nina Hoffmann +1.618
3. Eleonora Farina +2.516
4. Tracey Hannah +2.804
5. Veronika Widmann +2.991
1. Marine Cabirou - 1:17.508
2. Tracey Hannah +2.426
3. Nina Hoffmann +3.539
4. Veronika Widmann +5.133
5. Camille Balanche +6.719
1. Marine Cabirou - 43.598
2. Camille Balance +3.300
3. Tracey Hannah +4.417
4. Monika Hrastnik +5.261
5. Kate Weatherly +5.277
1. Marine Cabirou - 47.289
2. Veronika Widmann +1.231
3. Tracey Hannah +3.071
4. Camille Balanche +4.387
5. Monika Hrastnik +4.941
1. Tracey Hannah - 35.041
2. Veronika Widmann +0.129
3. Marine Cabirou +0.942
4. Camille Balanche +1.669
5. Monika Hrastnik +2.130
From the start gate, through the bike park barms, over the road gap and into the woods for the first time.Men ≈ 52 seconds, Women ≈ 62 secondsSector 2
The second half of the upper woods, including the open section under the chairlift.Men ≈ 64 seconds, Women ≈ 80 secondsSector 3
Back into the woods after the open section and down to the Trentino jump.Men ≈ 35 seconds, Women ≈ 45 secondsSector 4
From the Trentino Jump to the bottom of The Hell steep section.Men ≈ 38 seconds, Women ≈ 50 secondsSector 5
The final stretch of the woods, over the finish field sender, around Sam Hill's corner and across the line.Men ≈ 31 seconds, Women ≈ 36 secondsMen
Just like the busses, you wait three years for a man to win more than 3 splits at a World Cup and then two do it in one year. Following on from Amaury Pierron's dominant win in Fort William, Laurie Greenland took his turn to produce a stunning run in Val di Sole. This course in the Dolomites has always been kind to the young Bristolian and his win was clearly a popular result among the whole downhill field.
Further back, Loic was able to extend his World Cup overall lead with a second-place finish although Pierron's heroic 6th place qualifier in the wet means he's still well within striking distance. Danny Hart was also on a flier and was leading at the first two splits but ended up fifth after puncturing on the run into the line.
Of the four top qualifiers, three delivered their best ever race results. Yes, you could argue they were racing in the pick of the conditions but more importantly, they rose to the occasion of being last down on the live feed and put on a great finale to the race.
Let's take a look through all the numbers to find out where the time was made and lost for the top racers:Sector 1From the start gate, through the bike park barms, over the road gap and into the woods for the first time.
Danny Hart gets the holeshot and is fastest through the first sector by half a second. Amaury Pierron trails him in second then Loic Bruni is the only other rider within a second. As at most races this year, Dean Lucas gets off to a strong start, just ahead of Greg Minnaar. Laurie Greenland has his slowest split of the race, and the only one he won't win, in sixth. Sector 2The second half of the upper woods, including the open section under the chairlift.
Laurie wins his first split of 4 but only by 0.3 from Danny Hart, who continues his storming start. Greg Minnaar is well up there again and Charlie Hatton puts in a great split on his way to his best-ever elite World Cup result. Pierron has the first of two uncharacteristically weak sectors and ends up back in 11th.
If we combine splits 1 and 2, Hart still holds on to his lead but with Greenland closing in only 0.89 seconds back. Greg Minnaar moves up to third here and looks to be on for a really strong result. Pierron slips back from 2nd to 5th while Lucas falls from 5th to 7th. Charlie Hatton is the big winner moving up from 30th to 9th while his teammate, Gee Atherton, also makes big gains, from 28th to 13th.Sector 3From the Trentino Jump to the bottom of The Hell steep section.
A second sector win for Greenland, this time he earns himself about 0.6 over Remi Thirion. David Trummer has a great sector in third and Minnaar is still going strong in fourth. Danny struggles a bit here, losing 1.5 to Greenland, and leads out the rest of the field. Pierron has his weakest sector of the race in 15th.
Greenland has leapfrogged Hart and sets himself up as leader for the rest of the race. Hart only falls back one place while Minnaar and Bruni hold steady in third and fourth, separated by just 0.2. Pierron drops places again, this time both Vergier and Thirion overtake him as he slips to seventh. Trummer's great sector lifts him from 15th to 9th.Sector 4From the Trentino Jump to the bottom of The Hell steep section.
Greenland takes his biggest sector win on one of the shortest chunks of the track. Pierron recovers from two mediocre splits to take second on this one, just 0.05 ahead of Bruni. The two Italians, Von Klebelsberg and Palazzari fall about a second back and then Trummer is in sixth with another great sector. Brosnan posts his best sector of the race here with an 8th. It's tough to say exactly where Danny Hart gets his puncture on the live feed but he loses two seconds here, indicating his tyre may have begun deflating by this point. Minnaar crashes and rolls through in 45th this sector, he must have been flying before his crash though as he only lost five seconds despite hitting the deck.
Greenland's lead grows to more than 2.5 seconds as he continues to pick up speed through the treacherous Val di Sole woods. Hart loses a place to Bruni but only sits 0.02 back, a British 1-2 was very much on the cards had his tyre stayed inflated. Minnaar's crash drops him from third back to ninth, his podium hopes fading fast now. This allows Pierron to step up into the podium places with about 30 seconds of the track to go. The French are having a field day with 5 of the top 8 riders. Sector 5The final stretch of the woods, over the finish field sender, around Sam Hill's corner and across the line.
Another sector win for Laurie Greenland who powers across the line to claim his maiden World Cup win. Bruni is the only rider able to get close to him in the sprint for the line and finishes 0.2 back. Vergier and MacDonald are tied through this sector leading out the rest of the field. Brook MacDonald tends to finish strong so it's no surprise to see him right up there again in Val di Sole, despite crashing off screen further up the mountain. Danny Hart, his tyre now fully flat, pushes hard but can only manage 60th.
Laurie's winning margin ends up at nearly 3 seconds for a comfortable victory. Bruni later posted that he was unhappy with his run but considering he never dropped below fifth in any sector and finished second, he surely will be pleased with what he managed to salvage.
Danny Hart dropped another two places to fifth but rescues his podium spot through sheer determination. Trummer is only 0.06 seconds back in sixth so every pedal stroke in the bottom field probably made a difference for Hart as he just about hangs on. Minnaar rescues two places in sight of the line to move up to seventh despite a crash. Women
Marine Cabirou took her first career win in Val di Sole and did it with panache. She posted the biggest winning margin since Rachel Atherton in the middle of her golden run and even finished it off with some serious style over the final jump. Tracey Hannah finished second but limited her losses to just 30 points in the overall series after winning qualifying. She currently has a lead of 170 points and with two races remaining so it's hard to see her conceding the lead before the end of the season.
Camille Balanche picked up her first-ever podium with 3rd place. Considering she failed to even qualify here last year, that shows a huge rate of improvement for the EWS racer in her first full World Cup season. There were also personal best results for Veronika Widmann in fourth (despite a crash) and Melanie Chappaz in 9th.
Let's take a look through the splits to see who was going fast and where:Sector 1From the start gate, through the bike park barms, over the road gap and into the woods for the first time.
Cabirou starts as she means to go on and takes the first sector by more than 1.5 seconds from Nina Hoffmann. Tracey Hannah is sandwiched by the two Italians - Eleonora Farina and Veronika Widmann, in fourth. Sector 2The second half of the upper woods, including the open section under the chairlift.
Cabirou takes this sector too, this time by a colossal 2.4 seconds. Tracey Hannah gets into gear and beats Hoffmann by nearly a second. After a strong start in third after sector 1, Farina slips back a bit, going 7th fastest.
Cabirou extends her lead to more than five seconds and won't have to look back now, she's simply on another level. Hoffmann just about holds her lead over Hannah but it's only by a tiny margin and her race is about to take a turn for the worst. The biggest loser here is Farina, who slips from 3rd to 7th, allowing Hannah, Widmann, Balanche and Siegenthaler to all move up 1 spot.Sector 3From the Trentino Jump to the bottom of The Hell steep section.
Sector 3 sees crashes for Hoffmann, Widmann and Farina. Hoffmann's was big enough to effectively end her run but she's already confirmed she's not injured and will be ready to race in Lenzerheide. Farina was able to recover quickly and only lost 8 seconds. At the front of the sector, it's another win for Cabirou, this time by a mighty 3 seconds. Camille Balanche is 2nd with Tracey Hannah 3rd.
Cabirou's lead now extends to nearly 10 seconds and there's still more than a minute of this track still to go. With Hoffmann taking a big crash, Hannah moves up into second outright and Balanche third. Despite crashing, Farina gains two spots at this split and moves up into fifth. Sector 4
Cabirou takes her fourth and final sector win of the day, this time she's pegged to 'just' 1.2 though, as Veronika Widmann recovers strongly from her crash the sector before. Monika Hrastnik puts in another strong split in fifth, she is still recovering a succession of injuries this year but was showing the podium pace she had last year in the bottom half of the track here in Val di Sole.
Cabirou's lead extends to nearly 13 seconds, which should give her more than enough time to have some fun before the finish line. Tracey Hannah's second-place seems pretty secure at this point too with 5 seconds breathing room back to Balanche in 3rd. Widmann's amazing recovery gets her back up to the fourth place she lost in her crash, jumping ahead of Siegenthaler and Farina.Sector 5The final stretch of the woods, over the finish field sender, around Sam Hill's corner and across the line.
Finally Cabirou is beaten on the Val di Sole course as Hannah goes fastest through the bottom turns in the open. Widmann's great bottom section continues as she sits just 0.1 back. Cabirou limits her losses to a second, did that finish line whip cost her the chance of whitewashing all the sectors? It probably academic, she's still going on to win by a significant margin. Farina's luck turns from bad to worse as she gets a puncture in a similar fashion to Hart in the men's race and drops to 13th on this sector.
Cabirou wins by a double-digit margin, the biggest in more than three years. Tracey Hannah's second place sees her retain a commanding lead in the overall while Camille Balanche posts a career-best third. Widmann showed great character to finish fourth while Emilie Siegenthaler rounds off the podium with her second top-5 result of the year. Farina was visibly upset and she had every right to be, she ended up 8th but will be thinking about what could have been without a crash and a puncture.