Photo Epic: Finals - Val di Sole DH World Championships 2021

Aug 30, 2021
by Nathan Hughes  




Another year and another World Champs blows by in a blur of rainbow color. 20 years have blown by, incidentally, since the unfathomably accomplished Greg Minnaar claimed his inaugural medal in Vail, Colorado for Worlds 2001. This was a special one; the 11th world championship medal for Greg finally arriving after a 6 year drought and it happened to be not only gold, but on a track where the man has never previously won before. Overnight rain added to the confusion of how best to tame the infamously tricky Black Snake, but it was to be the Pietermaritzburgian puzzle master, 39 years young, who riddled the field a time none could contend with. Frenchman, Benoit Coulanges, was a whisker behind the GOAT and Troy Brosnan did the business for team Aus with a bronze medal.

No less exciting was the women’s race; Myriam Nicole bounced back from her year out of the stripes with a vengeance and stormed to a more than convincing 4.8 second victory, welcomed with a shower of congratulatory beer by top qualifier, Vali Höll who crashed out of contention on the greasy course. 2019 Val di Sole winner, Marine Cabirou, fought valiantly after her huge crash earlier in the season in Les Gets to claim silver, while defender of the rainbow jersey, Camille Balanche refused to be forced off the podium. Canadian, Jackson Goldstone, and Bulgarian, Izabela Yankova, earned their stripes in the junior races in true style.



Loris Vergier prepping for a fight with the Black Snake
Top qualifier, Loris Vergier, prepping for a fight with the Black Snake

The overnight rain did very little to help the blown out track as riders struggled for grip in the loose dirt
The overnight rain did very little to help the blown out track and riders now struggled for grip on greasy hard-pack after a whole day of training in the dust yesterday.

Gracey Hemstreet took the final medal position in the junior women.
Gracey Hemstreet took the final medal position in the junior women.

Lachlan Stevens-McNab takes bronze in the junior guys.
Lachlan Stevens-McNab takes bronze in the junior guys.

Kine Haugom of Norway charged hard for a silver medal.
Kine Haugom of Norway charged hard for a silver medal.

Izabela Yankova over the last jump and into the stripes with 10 seconds to spare.
Izabela Yankova over the last jump and into the stripes with 10 seconds to spare.

Big day for the young Bulgarian.
A big day for the young Bulgarian racer.

Second place for Jordan Williams who held down the hot seat until a certain young Canadian had his turn.
Second place for Jordan Williams who held down the hot seat until a certain young Canadian had his turn.

It was amazing to watch Jackson Goldstone attack the Val di Sole track on route to the gold medal.
It was amazing to watch Jackson Goldstone attack the Val di Sole track on route to the gold medal.

A sprint to the finish. Jackson Goldstone claims the stripes for Canada.
A sprint to the finish and he claims the stripes for Canada.

Jackson Goldstone Junior Wolrd Champ
Goldstone, Junior Wolrd Champ.

Izabela Yankova Kine Haugom Gracey Hemstreet with the gold silver and bronze medals for the Junior Women
Izabela Yankova, Kine Haugom, Gracey Hemstreet with the gold, silver and bronze medals for the Junior Women

Jackson Goldstone Jordan Williams NA Lachlan Stevens-McNab took top honors in Junior men
Jackson Goldstone, Jordan Williams and Lachlan Stevens-McNab took top honors in Junior men

Jackson Goldstone takes his first World Championship title at the first time of asking.
Goldstone takes his first World Championship title at the first time of asking.

Pinned all week Myriam Nicole was untouchable
Pinned all week, Myriam Nicole was untouchable today.

Eleonora Farina rode strongly and was the best placed Italian in any of the categories in 6th.
Eleonora Farina rode strong and was the best placed Italian in any of the categories in 6th.

Top qualifier Valentina Holl fell foul of the slick track after a night of heavy rain mixed up conditions particularly for the womens race earlier in the afternoon.
Top qualifier, Valentina Holl, fell foul of the slick track after a night of heavy rain mixed up conditions; particularly for the women’s race earlier in the afternoon.

Camille Balanche fought hard to protect the stripes but was forced to surrender them on the day by 6 seconds... although she would still get a concilatory bronze.
Camille Balanche fought hard to protect the stripes, but was forced to surrender them on the day by 6 seconds... although she would still get a concilatory bronze.

Marine Cabirou won the last time the World Cup stopped in for a visit. She was surely one to contend today and did so with a spot on the podium.
Marine Cabirou won the last time the World Cup stopped in for a visit. She was surely one to contend today and did so with a spot on the podium.

Happy with her performance Cabirou put up one hell of a fight and looked good on track all week.
Happy with her performance, Cabirou put up one hell of a fight and looked good on track all week.

Jess Blewitt held steady after her strong qualie and took top kiwi female honours in 8th place.
Jess Blewitt held steady after her strong qualie and took top kiwi female honours in 8th place.

7th for Mille Johnset
7th for Mille Johnset

Tahnee Seagrave grit her teeth and toughed it out today with an injury for 5th
Tahnee Seagrave grit her teeth and toughed it out today with an injury for 5th

Vali and Veronika wait as Myriam smashes split after split.
Vali and Veronika wait as Myriam smashes split after split.

If you ever doubted Myriam Nicole s ability to tackle this course just look at the splits.
If you ever doubted Myriam Nicole's ability to tackle this course, just look at the splits.

Nicole offered her first drink after crossing the line faster than her winning margin.
The new champ offered her first drink after crossing the line faster than her winning margin.

Myriam Nicole looked like the girl to beat all weekend and ultimately she proved to be unbeatable.
Nicole looked like the woman to beat all weekend and ultimately she proved to be unbeatable.

4th and just out of the medals for Moinika Hrastnik
4th and just out of the medals for Monika Hrastnik

Monika Hrastnik into fourth although nine seconds back.
Monika Hrastnik into fourth nine seconds back.

Myriam Nicole regains the World Championship stripes once more after losing them last season.
Myriam Nicole regains the World Championship stripes once more after losing them last season.

Your Elite Women s podium - 1st Myriam Nicole 2nd Marine Cabirou 3rd Camille Balanche
Your Elite Women's podium - 1st Myriam Nicole, 2nd Marine Cabirou, 3rd Camille Balanche.

Champagne showers never get old.
Champagne showers never get old.

Full commitment into the final left hard corner
Full commitment into the final left hard corner

A great ride into 11th place for Andreas Kolb.
A great ride into 11th place for Andreas Kolb.

Luca Shaw taking the plunge into a 10th place finish.
Luca Shaw taking the plunge into a 10th place finish.

Finn Iles overcame his injury struggles for a top 10 and top Canadian.
Finn Iles overcame his injury struggles for a top 10 and top Canadian.

Wildcard man of the match was a close one between Kolb Vidal and young Kiwi Tuhoto-Arike Pene taking 14th.
Wildcard man of the match was a close one between Kolb, Vidal and young Kiwi Tuhoto-Arike Pene, taking 14th.

12th for Antoine Vidal after an amazing qualifier just one day prior
12th for Antoine Vidal after an amazing qualifier just one day prior.

8th for David Trummer
8th for David Trummer

Trummer sure is one low key top 10 on any track when you least expect kind of guy.
Trummer sure is one low key 'top 10 on any track, when you least expect' kind of guy.

Reece Wilson had been struggling here all week but found something today and was on a good run before a front tire blow out a few corners from home.
Reece Wilson had been struggling here all week, but found something today. He was on an amazing run before a front tire blow out a few corners from home left him in 15th.

Plagued by a few too many flats in training Danny Hart held on tight for fifth.
Plagued by a few too many flats in training, Danny Hart held on tight for fifth.

Benoit Coulanges has been on fire and pushing hard for his first win so losing out on gold by 0.22 is going to sting a little bit
Benoit Coulanges has been on fire and pushing hard for his first win, so losing out on gold by 0.22 is going to sting a little bit

One of these weekends will be Benoit Coulanges . He missed out by a fraction of a second today.
One of these weekends will be Coulanges' before long.

After a couple of years taking names at the French nationals Coulanges has cemented himself as top threat.
After a couple of years taking names at the French nationals Coulanges has cemented himself as a top threat at the highest level.

Just 3.1 seconds back on the winning time was Brit Matt Walker enough for 7th place.
Just 3.1 seconds back on the winning time was Brit, Matt Walker; enough for 7th place.

Greg Minnaar flying of there big ski jump and into the infamous final left hand turn
Greg Minnaar flying of the big ski jump and into the infamous final left hand turn

Greg Minnaar launches his way into the finish arena on route to the World title.
Minnaar launching his way into the finish arena on route to the World title.

Golden GOAT dust.
Golden GOAT dust.

Into the hot seat Minnaar goes after an incredible run.
Into the hot seat Minnaar goes after an incredible run.

Nervous moments in the hot seat for Greg Minnaar as he watches the last few riders try to beat his time.
Nervous moments in the hot seat for Greg Minnaar as he watches the last few riders try to beat his time.

Less than half a second from the win was Troy Brosnan who closed out the podium.
Less than half a second from the win was Troy Brosnan who closed out the podium.

World Champs are heaven for some and hell for others. Amaury Pierron went a little past purgatory.
World Champs are heaven for some and hell for others. Amaury Pierron went a little past purgatory.

Loris made Greg squirm on the hotseat after setting the fastest top two splits but would cross the line a second off the pace
Loris Vergier made Greg squirm on the hotseat after setting the fastest top two splits, but would cross the line a second off the pace

Loris Vergier out down a good run but it wasn t his day.
Vergier put down a good run, but it wasn't his day.

Loic Bruni and Loris Vergier close but so far from the glory they were after
Loic Bruni and Loris Vergier close but so far from the glory they were after

As soon as the news fell that Daprela had had an off Vergier wasted no time running to congratulate his former teammate.
As soon as the news fell that Daprela had had an off, Vergier wasted no time running to congratulate his former teammate.

Thibaut Daprela took two massive slams but escaped relatively unscathed.
Thibaut Daprela took two massive slams but escaped relatively unscathed.

You can t spell World Champs without YOLO . Kinda.
You can't spell World Champs without 'YOLO'. Kinda.

Take a bow Greg Minnaar you put on quite the show today
Take a bow Greg Minnaar, you put on quite the show today

The special bond of Loic Bruni and the winningest.
The special bond of Loic Bruni and the winningest.

Greg Minnaar and the Santa Cruz V10 rack up yet another World Championship victory.
Greg Minnaar and the Santa Cruz V10 rack up yet another World Championship victory.

The highly secret magic arm technique perfectly demonstrated by former World Champ 2009.
The formerly well kept secret 'magic arm' bike-shooting technique, perfectly demonstrated by former World Champ 2009.

Your top 3 elite men 1st Greg Minnaar 2nd Benoit Coulanges 3rd Troy Brosnan.
Your top 3 elite men: 1st Greg Minnaar 2nd Benoit Coulanges 3rd Troy Brosnan.

That s a wrap on the 2021 Mountain Bike World Championships from Val di Sole.
That's a wrap on the 2021 Mountain Bike World Championships from Val di Sole.

Greg Minnaar solidifying his claim as the G.O.A.T
Greg Minnaar solidifying his claim as the G.O.A.T

Ending a 6 year dry spell by striking gold in Italy
Ending a 6 year world championships dry spell by striking gold in Italy

The new rainbow bearers headed into 2022.
The new rainbow bearers headed into 2022.

Ciao Worlds.
Ciao, Worlds.



80 Comments

  • 105 0
 Phenomenal set of pictures, that gold medal hold and the last one!
  • 52 2
 The quality of the pics never seizes to amaze me. Big thanks to the photographers! There's nothing to be said about Minnaar that hasn't been said before. He's the GOAT, there's no denying anymore, even for the die hardest AG fans.
  • 13 2
 @Muckal: AG? How is he even in your running for GOAT?!
NV maybe
  • 10 0
 @Muckal: Absolutely. In 2016 it was a hot topic of debate.. how things have changed.
  • 19 0
 @pen9-wy: I don't know how many records Nico V. has (possibly more on paper), but I still consider Minnaar to be the GOAT (male) downhiller due to the length of his career. Being at the top end for over 20 years - no-one else has come close to that. Also, DH racing in the 90's is very different to today.
  • 3 4
 @pen9-wy: he's far from it in my book.
  • 1 0
 @tremeer023: For me it's just about the stats. World champs and world cup wins in total. As far as I know Minnaar has the most.
With nine or so of Nico's wins coming in the world champs, it kind of makes me wonder what he was doing all the rest of the time. I guess either not racing or coming second to Peaty in world cups.
  • 1 0
 @Muckal: Greatest Of All Times???
  • 1 0
 @callmepepe: ok, once again: Aaron Gwin is way off such status in my opinion. Ok?
  • 58 0
 Really would like to see a picture of Bruni pointing his finger on Minaar in the hot seat. That was a beautiful and honest moment, true sportsmanship. All hail Greg!
  • 8 0
 came here to say the same
  • 1 0
 Aye aye. I'd like to hear their extended thoughts on one another. They aren't true rivals since Greg had a headstart and Bruni could race for ten years after Greg retires, but I think they recognize the longterm competition for goat status.
  • 4 0
 I cracked up when I saw that on the live stream Salute
  • 2 0
 That was such a great moment, I got shivers with excitement.
  • 44 1
 So stoked for Minnaar. Age is nothing but a number.
  • 24 0
 LOL age is a lot more than just a number which is what makes Minnaar the GOAT.
  • 8 0
 Age is a number that tells a lot about how long ago a person is born!
  • 32 1
 Pro Ride for Tuhoto-Arike Pene asap???
  • 4 0
 i agree as-well as the zwar bros
  • 3 0
 Syndicate has a spot empty this year...
  • 26 2
 Reece Wilson on Bontrager tyres, but Loris on blacked out tyre brand which presumably rhymes with 'faxes'. I wonder if a different tyre wouldn't roll off the rim so easily on that bottom turn...
  • 12 0
 Reece is on blacked out Michelins. The massive BONTRAGER you see is the side of the rim. The tire is deflated, lost the bead and collapsed behind the sidewall of the rim.
  • 1 0
 I always thought that winning worlds gave you the "Balcked-out Maxxis" superpower...
  • 2 0
 Loris has been swapping tyre brands and models as crazy in this race... I think was a mistake to go DHR II front for the finals... You can see him sliding sideways on the steep rocks bit...
  • 3 0
 I thought Reece ran CushCore, I can't help but wondering if that would've prevented that blow out. Either way, incredible run from him.
  • 1 0
 @eblackwell: I think a lot of people only run cushcore in the rear.
  • 8 0
 EASILY? dude, he hit that turn at Mach 2 after 25m flight
  • 1 0
 Once you ride Michelin you can never go back! Although the G5s are the closest feel to them that I've ever tested. Not the side walls, just the tread compound. Minus the side tread durability.
  • 1 0
 @eblackwell: I've never blown a tyre like that until I put a Tannus Armour in and even destroyed the rim. I'll give CushCore a chance but go back to riding without inserts after. Is anyone else running Tannus on their DH rig and had to build a new wheel after?
  • 20 0
 What an amazing sport. Such camaraderie between competitors. An amazing story told through brilliant photographs. Well done. And well done Greg! You are an inspiration, not just through your tremendous track record, but also through your sportsmanship.
  • 1 1
 YOU definitely came here to say THAT!!
  • 5 0
 What a photo.
  • 5 0
 Gracia's camel toe though...
  • 2 0
 Is Minnaar like wine?...
  • 1 0
 Skin suits, Dainese Moto Armour and Oakley glasses from the Pretty Fly For a White Guy music video, eh!
  • 16 0
 Shout out to our man Benoît Courgettes for his amazing consistency this year. Well deserved result!
  • 11 0
 So so happy with Greg's win. Everyone who has been on that highest step is because they really deserve it. But watching Greg pulled that one out shows all the hard work that he's put into it
  • 3 0
 The good side on Greg is not about hard work and sacrifice... Is just big passion and love for this sport .. Doesn't seem to be the guy who spent more time into the gym... Some said none...
  • 9 0
 @PauRexs: Greg definitely hits the gym
  • 10 0
 Maybe missing out on the live feed here was a blessing to appreciate a solid collection of still photos
  • 1 0
 The RedBull TV stream was available here. Someone posted a link in the qualies photo epic that worked for me. Came directly from the UCI website without a VPN required.
  • 4 0
 Those pics make you feel you were there, even more so than the live feed. And thanks a ton for covering the juniors, pretty much the only way to get a sense of how it went for them.
  • 5 0
 Incredible photo work by all, but I want to specifically call out Andy Vathis for that shot of Luca Shaw mid-air. Stellar shot.
  • 3 0
 So stoked for Greg and his win! I was booked to visit Pietermaritzburg before Covid struck, and hoped to ride his local trails and visit his bike-shop. Still on my bucket list!
  • 4 0
 Noticed Greg is running XTR rotors in a 6 bolt config, previously only available as CL?
  • 2 0
 I wonder if they’re the next gen Saints?
  • 2 2
 Because Shimano's centerlock does not lock.
  • 5 0
 Amazing photos!
  • 2 0
 What a race! After Minnaar set his time I was just hoping it would stand. And I hope they found a more appropriately sized rainbow jersey for Nicole after the ceremony...
  • 3 0
 So good to see Minnaar get a win like this after the bad luck and missing out on the overall in 2017
  • 2 0
 How did anybody approve Mille Johnset's kit combo!? Man that color combination was hideous. Felt bad for the lass running that look....
  • 2 0
 Shout out to the Canadian Junior World Champs - Goldstone and Hemstreet are, hopefully, going to do big things! And All hail Greg.
  • 4 0
 Is that a tube on Pierron's rear?
  • 1 0
 Wondering the same thing.
  • 1 0
 Andreas Kolb seems to be riding some prototype Continental tires, which very coincidentally, are almost identical to Kenda's prototype tires that some Kenda riders have been using. Or could he be riding them as well???
  • 1 0
 www.pinkbike.com/video/147106

We all knew this kid was going places when this iconic video surfaced in 2010! It was my first 'faved' video on Pinkbike! Well done Jackson!!
  • 3 0
 Beautiful pictures, thank you.
  • 4 0
 Epic photos!
  • 1 0
 Wonderful pictures here. I had to VPN to Japan to watch the Redbull livestream because it was geoblocked in most countries, a shame.
  • 2 0
 Link to watch women's race that is not geo blocked?
  • 1 0
 See first post in 'final results' thread for link
  • 2 0
 Minnaar's staff is rad......
  • 2 0
 what a weekend, what a day to be alive
  • 2 0
 Both of the new world champs are pretty hot
  • 1 0
 Excellent collection of pics, kudos to the batch of photographers.

@rossbellphoto Still shooting Canon?
  • 1 0
 What a fantastic collection of photos....you just can't beat it to tell a story.
  • 1 0
 Goat.we will never see a rider like it again.end of.
  • 1 0
 We now have more business.Overal wc winner
  • 1 0
 Priceless!Wink
  • 6 9
 Goldstone, Junior Wolrd Champ.

He probably deserves better than that in his caption Pinkbike.


Does anyone proof-read anything before it's published? Hopefully that's at least one thing Outside can improve.
  • 20 0
 Let's be honest. The quality of the writing and editing on pinkbike, in general, is quite outstanding compared to most of the internet crap.
  • 3 0
 He also deserves a shirt that fits. Where did they find that one, Tents-R-Us?
  • 1 1
 Andy Vathis seemingly needs an apostrophe too...c'mon pinkbike
  • 1 1
 @hubertje-ryu: careful, they'll start charging us for it ;-) You are right though.
  • 2 3
 Erm, you spelled world wrong. "Wolrd" Just sayin....
  • 1 0
 As someone who enjoys copywriting, I feel this. However, I also feel that frequent misspellings are better than frequent grammar abominations (cough Buzzfeed, etc.). I am bummed when I see names spelled wrong, though. It’s part of a PB writer’s job to know the athletes and their backgrounds well - that includes knowing how to spell their names. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
  • 1 1
 What’s happened to Gwin ‍♂️
  • 1 0
 Sat it out due to injury from a previous WC.
  • 1 2
 Trek shills

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