So here we are when all is said and done. The 2015 World Cup season is already just a memory; the last jump has been hucked, the final pedal stroke taken, and the ultimate victories have been claimed by the two racers to also take Men's and Women's series by storm. Aaron Gwin and Rachel Atherton continued their obliteration of the competition in a race that deservingly formed the jewel in the crown of a wild, wild ride stretching all the way back to April and the holy slopes of Southern France. Six races later, it seems to have passed too fast to take stock of anything we might have learnt, but there's no doubting that these are the golden years. 20 years from now we'll look back and be proud to have witnessed these times with these legendary riders going head to head, carving out the still relatively early history of the sport with their cut-down spikes. So put on your signed Greg Minnaar jersey, crack open the beers and get a second look at the mind-blowing action on the replay. But first there should be time for one last photo epic...
Because the World Cup isn't all shiny big-rigs and luxury 2 star hotels... This kitchen setup in a rustic, open basement is all any privateer needs to keep thoroughly warm and nourished... We hope.
Andrew Crimmins has performed brilliantly all season in the juniors and thoroughly deserved his second place finish in the overall, not least after another great ride to 4th today. Here he gallops into the steep right-hander that was to be the undoing of Alex Marin Trillo.
After a great start to the season, Thibaut Laly had some issues of late, but finally he managed to get right back in the mix, riding to 5th in the Italian dust.
Team Les Gets Bikepark's Benoit Cougoureux stormed his was to a personal best of 6th place just 4.9 seconds back in the juniors.
Top qualifier and up at Split 1, Alex Marin crashed half way down and saw his dreams of his first win in tatters. Bring on Junior Worlds.
"I took a bit of a victory lap today. I just kept saying to myself, 'keep it in the bag man'. I just didn't want to risk anything for Worlds." Laurie Greenland, on his race run.
One small step-down for Greenland, one giant leap into third place. Pic by Beatrice Baar.
Loris Revelli brought home the win for his country in the juniors today. In a stunning performance, the Italian was a second 'and change' up on 2nd place, Dickson.
It's hard imagine how good it must have felt for AB Devinci's Loris Revelli to pull out that kind of performance on home soil, but according to him it wasn't half bad. Congrats Mr Revelli!
Greenland, Crimmins and Dickson with the best possible chances of making it as small fish in a big pond next year. Congrats to your 2015 Junior overall top 3!
In the women's race, Italian national champ, Veronika Widmann, had a great time here on home soil and was on for the podium in the first 2 splits before an eventual, and still amazing, 8th place finish.
Tracey Hannah rode to fifth place today. Hannah has had a stellar season, considering the injury at Lourdes. She finished fourth overall.
Hannah, 5th of the day and 4th in the overall points.
Tahnee Seagrave looked mighty wild in search of extra seconds on her race run today... Thankfully she held on for another podium to take third spot in the overall.
Seagrave warping into the final turns to end a fantastic season for the FMD Racing star..
Monica Hrasnik experiencing slight technical difficulties on the huge step down. The set up was extremely tricky and pointed riders towards two trees, while the compression was considerable for anybody except the top men not able to grease the transition.
Manon Carpenter pushed hard to a 3rd place finish. She is now looking to Andorra in two weeks time where she will try to defend her World Championship title.
Eyes focused like no one else, Myriam Nicole tucks through the dust out of the final corner.
Pom Pon all smiles; back to full strength and taking second today.
Rachel Atherton piloting her Fury off the top road gap. Pic by Beatrice Baar
Atherton bringing home one last win of the season. She was 2.239 seconds up on second place, Pom Pon.
Atherton gave it her absolute all, despite already having the title, to claim her unbelievable, 26th World Cup win. Pic by Beatrice Baar
Val Di Sole's top women. Reshuffle the order to Atherton, Carpenter, Seagrave, Hannah, Ragot and Nicole in 6th and you have your final season standings. Congrats to the all the amazing women at the top of the sport.
Could this be the straw that breaks the trophy-cabinet's back? Let's hope not Rach.
A sincere and emotional moment between two champions, but more importantly friends following Emmeline's announcement of retirement.
A sad but also perfect ending to the career of Ragot. Carried off stage by her biggest rival of the past decade. The level at the top end of the women's field is so high right now almost entirely thanks to these two.
Emmeline Ragot announced her retirement today, and thanked Rachel for the many battles over the years. Fear not, she won't be staying away from the circuit, as she offered her physio services to all in the coming years.
The calm before the storm in Val di Sole.
Riding at the World Cup? Don't forget to bring your proverbial balls now will you? Reece Wilson saddles up and hucks towards the distant smoothness of the downside on the step-down nobody wanted to case.
Eddie Masters is now the official Masters Brothers World Cup Champion... 15th on arguably the toughest track on the calendar.
A common utterance in the forest this season was 'if Phil Atwill stays on his bike he'll have a top result'. Well at the last opportunity he managed it... A top 20 for the wildman wildcard.
Alexandre Fayolle is one of those riders who looks incredible on track week in week out but usually struggles to find the spotlight with top results. 10th place for the privateer will come as one hell of a nice surprise, congrats to him on the epic result!
Brook MacDonald literally put hurt to the track on his way to 4th.
MacDonald might just have MVP status after his knee dislocated in practice yesterday...
Return of the Mac.
Dean Lucas might just have won the big air award on the Italian huck-o-meter, on his way to one hell of a donkey-nod and another top 20.
A 700mm lens held up by three of the sports finest photographers in the final corner... Schieck, Delorme and Di Lulo cuddle up.
Add another one and 16mm to that total. Nathan Hughes putting his 4-limbed tripod to good use... "This is hard. It's hot, dirty, I'm sweaty, and I want to leave." said poor Steffi Marth.
Harry Heath smashed his way into his best result since last time around in Windham.... Ninth place once again for the Englishman.
Despite never having taken the win here, Greg Minnaar looked super comfortable from the outset among the Val di Sole roots.
Greg Minnaar made a costly mistake before the first split that would push him from 2nd back to 4th in the overall.
Greg Minnaar knew it would take something exceptional to catch Gwin and went all out, but came unstuck in the dust, pushing too hard. Still, an exceptional season, including two wins and coming back from a broken hand gave him 4th spot in the overall.
A second, consecutive, immense performance from Loris Vergier saw him rip his way to 7th. Pic by Beatrice Baar.
After a brilliant season for Giant's headline act, an apparent mechanical out of the gate left Marcello Gutierrez outside of contention for a top spot this afternoon, but still able to nurse it down to secure 8th in the overall.
Marcello had been looking on it all week; it would have been great to see him end the season with another trip to the podium, but, today it wasn't meant to be.
Danny Hart was on an absolute heater, 3rd at the first two splits, but somehow lost the front end unexpectedly coming into the 'Hell' section, sampling the dirt and forcing him outside the top 20.
After a season recovering from injury, Ratboy had a stellar end to the season to finish in the top 5 overall. Pic by Beatrice Baar.
Ratty sending it off the drop and heading into the finish arena and onto the podium. We can't wait to see what he's going to go at World's....
Young Canadian, Mark Wallace, making tracks through the loam on his way to eighth place, his second top-10 result this season.
Gee Atherton looked to be on fire in his race run, but couldn't make it a hat-trick of dual Val Di Sole wins alongside his sister. The World Champ finished one spot off the podium.
How many times can Loic come so close to winning a World Cup? We reckon that once he wins he is going to keep winning for a long time.
Bruni took second today and second for the overall of the season. Unfortunately, that win was still just out of his reach.
Bruni on a scorcher, skimming his way into the final turn.
Aaron Gwin and another weekend of total domination. The man, the myth, the legend... A deserving champ indeed.
While his run wasn't as mind-melting as perhaps he alone is capable, Gwin took one heck of a win today to become World Cup Champion.
Gwin after crossing the line knowing that, without a doubt, the World Cup overall was his for the third time.
Even after close encounters with the track, Troy Brosnan still finished third. That was a damn fast run.
Troy Brosnan started out of the gate with the kind of explosive run that could have achieved instant legend status, but for the second consecutive race he found his assault on the top denied.
Brosnan took it like a man, but a second denial on a second winning run must have stung very badly.
The uncomfortable blend of pain and disappointment on the face of Brosnan... Troy washed his front end in a corner half way down and broke his finger punching a big boulder.
What could have been if Troy hadn't ended up with his bars in he dirt.
Earth-shattering talent and ground-breaking pace on a bike, harnessed for a third time to produce a hat-trick of overall World Cup titles. With 2011, 2012 and 2015 series trophies, could Aaron Gwin already be just one season away from snatching the wins record from Minnaar? We're sure Greg would have something to say about that...
Despite all the race tension, rivalry and media madness it seems Gwin and Brosnan have developed a pretty authentic bond after 3 seasons as big 'S' pilots.
... this time at least.
Aaron Gwin wrapped it all up in a tidy package here at Val di Sole. Now, he looks toward the next item to check off his list: World Champs.
One season, four wins. Only in Switzerland and Canada did Gwin show the slightest of gaps in his armor and the rest was just pure perfection.
Aaron Gwin your 2015 season World Cup champion.
Having just two riders proved to be no handicap to the Specialized Racing team and they took the coveted team battle title.
Val Di Sole; one broken finger away from complete demo-lition this afternoon.
'All the lads', as they say.
While Gwin doesn't chug the bubbly, he sure does have the spraying technique down....
... Lord knows he's had enough practice.
Drink up Loic. It's been an incredible year and we can't wait to see what you bring to the table for Champs...
High-five on some absolute, top-draw, first-class, race action to round out the season.
Swap MacDonald for Minnaar and you have the 2015 WC overall podium and in correct order.
Sunset on a phenomenal race season... Thanks to the best riders on the planet for putting on an all-time show, and thanks to all our readers here at Pinkbike, we hope you've enjoyed the ride! Pic by Beatrice Baar.
And that's wrap from Val di Sole and the World Cup for another year... Never fear, World Champs is just two weeks out.
About your Pinkbike World Cup Photography TeamDave Trumpore • Age: 35 • Years Shooting: 4 Dave spent the bulk of the past 17 years racing professionally before realizing that despite qualifying for the random World Cup final here and there, the next generation was just way too fast and way more talented. Upon hanging up his racing boots in 2010, it would be a few years until Dave picked up a camera and started shooting the odd race here and there as a way to stay in touch with all the friends he had made over the years, and the rest as they say is history. In just a few years time his photos have graced the pages of just about every MTB magazine and major media outlet, while his commercial client list includes a who's who of the cycling industry, and he is lucky enough to shoot regularly with some of the best riders on the planet. Currently at Pinkbike, Dave shoots the Downhill WC and the Enduro World Series as well as contributing to the occasional editorial story. Matthew Delorme • Age: 40 • Years Shooting: 8 Matthew DeLorme is just one of Pinkbike’s motley crew of World Cup Photographers. He currently lives out of a Ogio bag, and calls the road his home. Delorme works for Trek Bicycle, covering their MTB racing programs. He can usually be found laying in the dirt trackside, cracking jokes and saying things that make little to no sense. He enjoys capturing accessory moments and the journey every bit as much as catching the action shot. Nathan Hughes • Age: 28 • Years Shooting: 2 Nathan Hughes was snared as mainstay Pinbike media crew for the 2013 World Cup season and has been trapped behind the lens and the keyboard ever since. In between the biggest bike events of the year Nathan can be found on client shoots, making far-off travel stories and trying to catch a moment to spin the pedals himself. A great appreciation of the wilderness, the fear of a normal life and the quest for the perfect picture will have him hooked and looking to raise the bar for years to come.
Thanks also to Beatrice Baar for some incredible additional imagery!