Photo Epic: VIPs Only - Les Gets P2V Invitational

Sep 20, 2020
by Nathan Hughes  

VIPs only sorry! This was an event shrouded in mystery and cloaked in non-promotion that few knew about, let alone got the offer to attend. Such are the times we live in. Still many of the top teams currently holed up in Europe answered the call and found their way to the long-established venue playing regular host to both the Crankworx and World Cup series. The organisers, P2V, had something a little special in mind to treat racers ahead of the World Champs; a fresh-cut course with some big and bold features and an exciting 2 run format for all. No crowds or mums allowed. Actually, mums would have been ok.

Beginning high on the mountain moorland, a few large 'hoofers', connected by some well-formed, high-speed berms got riders in the mood. A fair-sized road gap then tipped them into the woods, where things got steep, dry and loamy and tricky line options started to present themselves. Headed down further past the mid-station lake, riders partly connected with the 'Airline' course before going their own way for some more loam and flatter forest turns, with the track finally emerging on those ancient, usually braking-bump packed, berms of one of the oldest Mont Chéry downhill lines. The finish line was actually hard to determine, almost completely unmarked for stealth reasons. Indeed the race was held a day earlier than expected so it could take place without any fuss or fanfare. If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Perhaps not, but that's why I brought my camera.

The 2004 World Champ, Fabien Barel, on the winning home soil amongst the autumnal heather.

A natural course packed with features, making almost full use of the available Les Gets elevation was exactly what the doctor ordered.

After a long day sessioning the course under the hot sun on Friday, riders weren't sure what to expect after rain in the night and early morning.

Sik Mik tackles the first hit right out of the gate; a slightly-too-long, hipped, step-down with a hard landing that proved too much for a few shocks and bikes over the weekend.

Couscous tucking into a loam lunch with style seasoning.

Canada's favorite shark - Mark Wallace.
Followed by TB himself.

The Oakley road gap was the largest of the large on the track and too easily cased without a good line in.

Hugo Frixtalon ever fast, ever stylish.
Benjamin Stahele of the event's P2V team was about the only rider to make this difficult jump really sing.

Tracey Hannah flying down through the switchbacks with team manager, Fabien Cousinié, in tow.

New Zealand's ex-national champ, George Brannigan, has already enjoyed several weeks schralping his way around Europe's biggest and best bike parks this summer.

The Mont Chéry gondola brought riders the halfway point, before a shuttle finished the job.

No one gets lower in the turns than Remi Thirion. It's magic to watch. A mere top 10 didn't seem reward enough for his commitment on track.

Goats abound.
Luca Shaw powering through the well-shaped upper turns.

Exciting to see Crankworx connoisseur, Adrien Loron, throw his hat in the DH ring.

Mick Hannah making the most of his time euro-side before Worlds.

Brigade rider, Alex Marin, ready to go to war for team Spain next month.
Baptiste, holding the 'Pierron bros' fort down in the absence of his injured brother with a very respectable 7th.

Rudy Cabirou looked quick all day but is still looking into cleaning up his race runs.

Great to see Worlds 2016 medalist, Flo Payet, recovered from sickness and getting back up to speed.
Young GB talent Joe Breeden was the only UK rider to RSVP.

Matteo Iniguez ploughing through the heather. tight jerseys of yesteryear.... Who touched the flux capacitor? Sweet 2004 memories with Mr Barel.

Sixth place, Dylan Levesque, looked scary fast in places and the results sheet had the proof.
Thomas Estaque has been a threat on the World Cup scene a few years now. If he can turn up the consistency he could be a main player before long. 5th on the day.

After a long Aussie winter, Troy Brosnan, looked to be relishing his time back between the tape.

Six seconds off the winning time, he may have some cobwebs to dust off before Worlds, or will donning the green and gold bring him right up to speed?

Finn Iles has enjoyed a summer of British Columbia bicycle goodness and it won't have hurt his racing either. 8th fastest.

Tracey was unsure she would race on this 'unfriendly' course but decided to go for it, avoiding 2 of the biggest features for her race runs.
Only around 2 seconds back on the day, skipping those obstacles, she looks to be on form.

Marine Cabirou came out swinging here in Les Gets to take the win, despite a women's field of just 2.

There aren't many female riders who get comfy as quickly as Marine on big jumps and she tamed this beast of a track.

Greg Minnaar also went retro, not just with his new Oneal kit, but the time on the board.
4th place for the old-timer, who you better believe is going for a fresh gold medal in Leogang.

Rainbow man on the attack coming into some turns that were first cut on this hillside more than 20 years ago.

Coming off a win on the challenging Les Orres French Cup track, Bruni was on a racing high.
Still he would have to settle in behind two of the usual suspects, 3 seconds off the magic numbers.

Benoit Coulanges is having something of a break-out year... too bad he hasn't had the chance to prove himself on the world stage.

Another race, another podium for the new French national champion. Let's see if he can do some damage next month in Austria.

If there's a favorite to snatch another gold medal away from Bruni, it is surely Loris Vergier. Silk-smooth, but pure venom.
Vergier has been the danger man time and again this summer in the French nationals, stomping a massive win of over 7 seconds in the nightmarish conditions at Metabief two weeks ago.

The fastest time in both of his runs and 3 minutes 20 seconds for each (almost 3 seconds the victor), you have to marvel at his consistent brilliance on the bike. Vergier's record in Leogang is also strong to say the least.

A beaming ear-to-ear grin from LV. Probably.

Minnaar and Brosnan compare their luck in the woods.
No top-step glory this time Fabien Barel, but he can still hold his own with the new-gen.

Surreal times seeing the World's fastest masked up with no fan or media mobs in sight. Expect to see even stricter regulations in Austria for the pits and on track with nobody permitted in the finish area, even for finals.

The man looking to make it an 'impossible' 4 in a row.

Marine and Tracy reign supreme, admittedly in the absence of anyone else whatsoever.

Loris, Benoit and Loic, the 3 Frenchman at the tip of the sharp end right now. Big thanks to P2V for an excellent event.


  • 11 0
 Rad shots mate!
  • 1 0
 I forget is Vergier on a mullet or straight 29? This looks like it was an awesome race to say the least
  • 1 0
 Mullet for the moment Wink
  • 1 0
 Was I the only one half-expecting Sik Mik to throw a no-hander off the gap?!
  • 1 0
 Finn Iles on Maxxis again????
  • 4 1
 The specialzied team have always been runnning the maxxis tyres with sharpy mark across the logos, the own brand tyres just aren't up to the job i guess
  • 1 0
 and Bruni
  • 1 0
 @Jaib06: not really, only since they are running mullet setups because S doesn´t make 29 DH tires...
  • 1 0
 Very interested to see what Benoit can do on the big boy stage.
  • 1 1
 My lord those Scott goggles that Marine is wearing are absolutely hideous.....what is going on at the sides??
  • 2 0
 Looks like they're from Scott's off-road moto line. The canisters on either side contain film instead of tear offs.
  • 1 2
  • 3 6
 No Seagraves or Athertons... not VIP enough ????
  • 5 0
 no fans, no point
  • 12 0
 Some teams preferred not to risk any mixing ahead of Worlds where everyone in attendance will need to show a negative test from within the previous 3 days.
  • 4 0
 It said Joe breeden was the only Brit to RSVP, guess the others didn't fancy it.
  • 1 0
 At a guess the quarantine restrictions in either direction between UK and France meant that 14 days out at this point would not work in their schedules. I think Joe Breeden might be based in the alps at the moment
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