It wouldn't be a World Cup without some curve balls, and La Bresse certainly threw a few at the riders throughout the qualifying day. What started as just a damp track due to an overnight storm progressed to a muddy slip and slide through training as the dirt began to get sticky and more and more roots began to show themselves. More than a few riders were caught out on various corners and off cambers and could be seen covered in dirt from crashes.
By qualifying runs the weather took it one step further as the temperature plummeted just in time for some heavy and cold rain, saturating the track with a fresh coat of wetness. That added bit of moisture actually helped to clean the rocks and roots off while allowing the bikes to roll quite a bit quicker. Many riders claimed after finishing their runs that the track was almost riding as fast in the rain as when it was dry.
In the women's race, Tahnee Seagrave did what she needed to do and placed first, 8 seconds ahead of Rachel Atherton. With the elite women's title being the only one still up for grabs, Tahnee could take it all tomorrow if she wins and Rachel finishes outside the top 4.
As for the men, there can be no change at the front of the order as Amaury Pierron wrapped the title up last round, but there is still plenty of points to fight over for the rest of the top 5. But in qualifying it would be a resurgent Gee Atherton who would turn more than a few heads to slot in ahead of Pierron and the usual front-runners on the timing sheet. Even with the war already won, Gee is looking to end the final battle with a victory that has been elusive the past few seasons.
With even colder temperatures and continued rain forecast, it will be a mental and physical battle on race day as riders try to handle both the elements and the pressure of the World Cup season's final race runs.