Pinkbike Primer - Everything You Need to Know Ahead of the Vallnord World Cup DH

Jul 3, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  

Round Four, In Too Steep
The steepest track on the circuit is set to provide another thrilling year.

The first double header of the year sees XC and downhill racers alike head to the sheer slopes of the Vallnord Bike Park in Andorra. This is the seventh visit to La Massana and the track still remains a formidable test with a flat out bike park section up top that pulls hard right into relentless steeps for the final 90 seconds. It's an absolute brute of a track and with winning times in excess of 4 minutes riders will have to battle fatigue as well as the terrain if they want to claim glory on Saturday.

Here's everything you need to know but if you only take one thing away from this piece then make a note the downhill will be run on the Saturday this weekend so change your alarms if you don't want to miss out.

The Bulldog scrubbing into the finish area charing towards his first podium since 2016.

The Track

Vallnord simply doesn't fail, over the years we've seen tweaks to the final 200 metres of the track but the rest of it is set in stone. The top half of the track is a flat out bike park with jumps, big berms and not much to challenge the riders other than a temptation to feather the brakes. It's the bottom half of this track that really comes alive though as chute follows chute and riders cascade down the mountainside towards the finish. It's a relentless assault on the mind and the body that leaves brakes and arms cooked by the bottom.

Testament to this track's difficulty is the range of winners we've had here. From legends to first time winners, it doesn't seem to suit anyone in particular but a rider who can produce some magic on the day could take the top spot.

Paula Zibasa attacking the steeps but will need to find 5 seconds to catch her friend Mille Jonset and get on the podium.

Previous Winners

2018 // Loris VERGIER // FRA
2017 // Troy BROSNAN // AUS
2016 // Danny HART // GBR
2015 // Loic BRUNI // FRA*
2013 // Remi THIRION //FRA
2009 // Steve PEAT // GBR
2008 // Gee ATHERTON // GBR

2018 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR
2017 // Myriam NICOLE // FRA
2016 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2015 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR*
2013 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2009 // Sabrina JONNIER // FRA
2008 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR

Note, * denotes a race that was a World Championship.

What Happened in 2018?

In the men's race Amaury Pierron was three wins into his streak but he would be unable to make it four as Loris Vergier stepped up to claim his maiden win. Pierron wasn't much off the pace though and completed a French 1-2 within spitting distance of the border. Finn Iles also produced a great result for his first ever podium.

In the women's race, Tahnee Seagravce was fastest on the day but was chased hard by Rachel Atherton who was only 5 seconds back despite blowing off track in the open turns section.

Elite Men

1st. VERGIER Loris 04:04.055
2nd. PIERRON Amaury +1.333
3rd. MACDONALD Brook +1.604
4th. GREENLAND Laurie +3.707
5th. ILES Finn +4.579

Elite Women

1st. SEAGRAVE Tahnee 4:49.840
2nd. ATHERTON Rachel +4.829
3rd. HANNAH Tracey +8.692
4th. FARINA Eleonora +14.217
5th. RAVANEL Cecile +14.362

The young guns have truly arrived. Other than Brook Macdonald who is 27 years old no one else on the podium is older than 22. The youngest Finn Iles is still only 18.
Champagne showers on the women s podium to wash the dust away after a hard fought battle

What Happened at the Last Round?

Leogang again provided super-tight racing and a thrilling finish to set up the rest of the season. Loic took his second win of the season but a resurgent Greg Minnaar was just 0.3 behind. Troy Brosnan came third and retained his overall lead but he has just 5 points grace over Bruni in the race for the number 1 plate.

The women's race saw an emotional fourth ever World Cup win for Tracey Hannah. This was the first time she had won when Rachel was in the start gate and it had clearly been a big goal of hers for a long time. Nina Hoffmann announced herself as the fastest privateer on the circuit and she will no doubt have teams circling come the off season on the back of her second placed performance. Rachel Atherton crashed near the top and handed over the leader's jersey to Hannah.

Elite Men

1st. BRUNI Loic - 3:16.132
2nd. MINNAAR Greg +0.324
3rd. BROSNAN Troy +0.746
4th. HART Danny +1.994
5th. GWIN Aaron +2.418

Elite Women

1st. HANNAH Tracey - 3:42.107
2nd. HOFFMANN Nina +2.435
3rd. WEATHERLY Kate +9.360
4th. CABIROU Marine +9.564
5th. WIDMANN Veronika +12.085

Never one to hold back with the celebrations Bruni shares the champers.
She s been riding with confidence all season and was finally rewarded today.

The Standings

1st // Troy BROSNAN // AUS // 520
2nd // Loic BRUNI // FRA // 515
3rd // Amaury PIERRON // FRA // 450
4th // Danny HART // GBR // 435
5th // Greg MINNAAR // RSA // 321
6th // Loris VERGIER // FRA // 297
7th // Matt WALKER // GBR // 274
8th // Mark WALLACE // CAN // 263
9th // Aaron GWIN // USA // 262
10th // Charlie HARRISON // USA // 244

1st // Tracey HANNAH // AUS // 650
2nd // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR // 500
3rd // Nina HOFFMANN // GER // 475
4th // Marine CABIROU // FRA // 440
5th // Veronika WIDMANN // ITA // 307
6th // Kate WEATHERLY // NZL // 269
7th // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR // 230
8th // Camille BALANCHE // SUI // 226
9th // Carina CAPPELLARI // SUI // 201
10th // Mariana Salazar // ESA // 196

Weather Forecast

It's going to be plain sailing in Vallnord with wall to wall sunshine expected for the racers

After a third in Logan and a second last week in Val di Sole Henry Kerr has been on a role in the junior mens category. This week he would qualify first ahead of series leader Thibaut Daprella by over 2 seconds.

Thursday, July 4 - Timed Training
Intervals of clouds and sun, a shower or thunderstorm in spots in the afternoon // 25°C // 40% precipitation, 1mm // wind 7km/h

Friday, July 5 - Qualifying
Sunny; very warm // 27°C // 25% precipitation, 0mm // wind 7km/h

Saturday, July 6 - Finals
Plenty of sun; very warm // 27°C // 1% precipitation, 0mm // wind 11km/h

Weather forecast from the Accuweather as of Tuesday, July 2.

The Schedule

Full gas from Danny Hart on the first training run of the day. Danny meant business today but would come up just fractions short.

Note, as this is the first double head of the year the race is being broadcast on Saturday.

Thursday, July 4
• 08:30-11:45 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 12:00-15:15 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• 15:30-17:00 // Downhill Timed Training Session
• 17:00-17:45 // On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - Riders and Teams

Friday, July 5
• 08:30-10:00 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 10:15-11:45 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• 12:15 // Seeding Run - Junior Women
• 12:30 // Qualifying Round - Junior Men
• 13:30 // Qualifying Round - Elite Women
• 14:00 // Qualifying Round - Elite Men
• Followed by // 30 minutes On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - Riders and Teams

Saturday July 6
• 08:15-09:15 // Official Downhill Training - Junior Women, Junior Men, Elite Women
• 09:45 // Final - Junior Women
• 10:15 // Final - Junior Men
• 12:30 // Final - Elite Women
• 13:30 // Final - Elite Men followed by Awards ceremony

Note: All times are local and subject to change by the event organizer.

Follow Along

Brook Macdonald slaping berms with authority en route to 4th in qualifying just one spot behind his teammate Laurie Greenland.

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our team in Vallnord this week. Tune in to Pinkbike to catch photo epics, videos and results from Timed Training, Practice, Qualifying and Finals, as well as tech bits and news.

You can also watch the fourth round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup free of charge, live or on demand, on The live broadcast starts on Saturday, July 6 at 12:30pm CEST.

Schedule: Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Vallnord LIVE on Red Bull TV:

Vallnord DHI Women: July 6 Live on Red Bull TV 12:30pm CEST
Vallnord DHI Men: July 6 Live on Red Bull TV 1:45pm CEST

(all times CEST, replay available immediately following the races)

Fantasy League

Don't forget to complete your DH Fantasy team before the Elite Women's qualifying starts on Saturday. Check out the winning team from Fort William here.

The Fantasy Downhill League is Presented by Trek and SRAM.

MENTIONS: @trek / @SramMedia

Regions in Article
Vallnord Bike Park


  • 31 2
 Please Red Bull, do not use those crappy POV angles ever again. No one likes them, they suck and are terrible.
  • 4 0
 +1 one camera angle is enough
  • 2 1
 Never been a fan of POV videos anyway
  • 10 0
 I hope we see a dark horse come across the line this weekend. Seems like the year for it. So many upsets so far. Brook or even something crazy like Neko. Maybe his mechanic should put a little nick in his chain.
  • 5 1
 Finn is coming.
  • 2 0
 Would love to see Brook ot Troy take the win but hard to go against the french in france based on current form
  • 1 1
 @BenPea: Prince of The North
  • 10 2
 Central European Summer Time
CEST timing
CEST (Central European Summer Time) is one of the well-known names of UTC+2 time zone which is 2h. ahead of UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).The time offset from UTC can be written as +02:00. It's used as a DST (summer daylight saving time).During the winter, CET - Central European Time(UTC+1) is in use.
  • 20 0
 Finally an expert! So what does timed training mean?
  • 23 0
 @karoliusz: nothing
  • 6 0
 Can we get like a version of the course preview that's just the helmet cam? Please? Pretty Please? Everytime i start to get into it the angle switches to the horrible bar cam and i have to fight the spins. Red Bull, 1 angle please so we can actually pay attention to the track. Honestly we're saving you money. Just one camera and a mic for gee, slap it together, past your logos all over the frame and we're good to go. No editing required. Other than that - I'm excited for this weekend, favorite track on the circuit.
  • 2 0
 edit - im dumb - didnt realize it was the 2018 course preview... Hoping for no motion sickness with the course preview this year!
  • 4 0
 That ``What Happened at the Last Round`` video gave me such a big smile on my face. Thank you so much for showing so well the essence of our sport and the humanity that lives in it such as the complicity that most riders have at each other. Like someone told me the other day: ``beautiful sport``. Smile
  • 1 0
 A sport like no other.
  • 4 1
As a help I have included a link for your review. It may help you understand who sets the current rules for transgender athletes competing in cycling events under the UCI banner.'s-eligibility

"Ultimately a few great natural born women retired when it was apparent the had to race men as well"

That's a bold statement to make. Of course you can back this with names of the female athletes? I can understand that you have a lot of issues with this subject, many people have, it's a complex & emotive situation. But these are people we are talking about here, not the latest XTR groupset or some other inanimate object, real people. If don't agree with the rules, lobby to change them. When you accuse people of being, "egotistical, arrogant and ultimately delusional" to feel "this is the right thing to do and is acceptable" and follow that up with, "I applaud them for their strengths and accept them for who they say and feel they are" you are actually contradicting yourself. Beer
  • 2 0
 I wouldn’t list names. Theses women were friends with the transgender athlete. So was I. As I said I am compassionate. My cousin is transgender! I don’t contradict at all. In every other facet of life I applaud the strength of the individual to endure a lifetime of feeling lost and trapped. I support the change and hope their lives brighten and they are aligned with their inner image. COMPETITION IS DIFFERENT.
  • 1 0
 @Intense4life: all good dude. Beer
  • 7 0
 Go BULLDOG !!!!
  • 2 0
 Thank you RB for changing the race to Saturday - wanted to watch it live this weekend ( for a change ) and clearly having the race Sunday wouldn’t be good for me as I’m working all day Big Grin
  • 10 0
 that's kind of selfish, it's not so good for the denim destroyer, he is likely going to have to work the restaurant on a Saturday.
  • 4 0
 @imho4ep: He better call in siiiiiick!
  • 2 0
 if only it was on the forth of july, then it could be like watching the super bowl! i guess if it was though we would be celebrating the frech revolution. p.s. thanks for liberating us france!
  • 3 0
 when everything you just read doesnt apply to you.Frown
  • 2 0
 Course Preview was sick, thanks G :-)
Looking forward to Ben Castro’s analysis now :-)
  • 3 12
flag thesharkman (Jul 3, 2019 at 13:30) (Below Threshold)
 Yeah and if you speed up Gee's course preview x2 then you see it at the speed of the elite riders.
  • 6 0
 @thesharkman: and if you pause it, is it your speed?
  • 3 0
 @thesharkman: how many world cups and world champs have you won?
  • 1 0
 If you're playing Fantasy Enduro/DH be aware when picking you're team that Eddie Masters will be racing at the EWS and not the World Cup Downhill. Beer
  • 2 0
 All I need to know is that I wont be going this year Frown
  • 2 0
 Do we know where will be Ed Masters this weekend?
  • 3 0
  • 2 0
 I would link you his Instagram post if there wasn't this big FB bug. But he's gonna fight to keep his EWS ranking (or get a better one)
  • 1 0
 Ok. The entry list is clearly wrong, as it says Monika Hrastnik is racing, when clearly she's not. Also Tahnee ???
  • 1 0
 Can’t wait for timed training... it’s the most contentious and exciting part of The weekend ... !
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 Just not into the current course previews.
  • 1 0
 Let the Puzzling begin!
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