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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
It's going to be plain sailing in Vallnord with wall to wall sunshine expected for the racers
Thursday, July 4
- Timed TrainingIntervals of clouds and sun, a shower or thunderstorm in spots in the afternoon // 25°C // 40% precipitation, 1mm // wind 7km/hFriday, July 5
- QualifyingSunny; very warm // 27°C // 25% precipitation, 0mm // wind 7km/hSaturday, July 6
- FinalsPlenty of sun; very warm // 27°C // 1% precipitation, 0mm // wind 11km/h
Weather forecast from the Accuweather
as of Tuesday, July 2.
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 TeamsFriday, 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 TeamsSaturday 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 ceremonyNote: All times are local and subject to change by the event organizer.
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 redbull.tv
. 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)
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.