Pinkbike Primer: Everything you Need to Know Ahead of the Val Di Sole World Cup DH 2019

Jul 31, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  

Round Six, Forbidden Fruit
An Italian serpent with its fangs bared.

Val di Sole kicks off the final back-to-back duo of the year and it will be a rude awakening for the riders after three weeks of rest. The Black Snake track has been on the track for over a decade and it has maintained a fearsome reputation and produced a number of legendary races in its time. It's a relentless assault, probably not quite as steep as Vallnord but brutally rough, with big holes, rocks and roots strewn liberally throughout its 2km length.

From the very first race here in 2008, Sam Hill lit the hill up, running more than six seconds up on Steve Peat's hot seat time before sliding out while cutting an inside on the final left-hander before the finish, handing the World title over to Gee Atherton, as part of an Atherton double. Since then, we've seen Myriam Nicole announce herself on the world stage with her maiden win, Marc Beaumont grab a surprise second World Cup win, Aaron Gwin deliver one of the greatest World Cup runs ever and plenty more in between. Let's see what's in store for 2019:

Full gas and lots of aggression first thing in the morning Tahnee Seagrave meant business today in Val di Sole.

The Track

Val di Sole is a true brute with relentlessly steep and burly woods making up the majority of its length. The start gate has been moved up the hill slightly for the past few races meaning there's now a short, relaxed start to the race run but as soon as the woods hit it's a different story. Deep holes, rocks and roots, usually hidden beneath pools of dust, make for an evolving track that constantly seeks to trip up riders. The riders are spat out of the woods into a final, high-speed open section. It looks simple on paper but underestimate it at your peril, races have been lost here on multiple occasions.

Precision, lines and braking are as important as ever but one of the biggest challenges here is fatigue as bodies are battered by innumerable impacts on runs of this 4-minute long track. Repeated runs over the weekend will build up and staying fresh is one of the hardest things to master.

Rarely straight and never smooth Val di Sole s DH track is one of the best on the circuit.

Adam Brayton drops into the steepest part of the track in the semi-dry morning practice session.

Previous Winners

2018 // Amaury PIERRON // FRA
2017 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2016 // Danny HART // GBR*
2015 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2013 // Gee ATHERTON //GBR
2012 // Aaron GWIN // USA
2011 // Aaron GWIN// USA
2010 // Marc BEAUMONT // GBR
2008 // Gee ATHERTON // GBR*
2018 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR
2017 // Tahnee SEAGRAVE // GBR
2016 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR*
2015 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2013 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2012 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR
2011 // Myriam NICOLE // FRA
2010 // Emmeline RAGOT // FRA
2008 // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR*

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

What Happened in 2018

The Valley of Sun was visited by unfamiliar spells of rain last year, bringing a whole new challenge to this track. On the one hand, it washed away a lot of the deep dust and dirt that so often obscures the dangers hiding on this track but it also made the clay surface and the roots far slicker. Qualifying was worst hit by the weather and threw up a lottery but racing was run under fair skies. Pierron completed the trio of wins that would eventually secure him the title, closely followed by a Brit duo of Greenland and Hart.

In the women's race, Tahnee grabbed her second consecutive win in Val di Sole, nicking it off Rachel in the final sprint on the grass for the line. Monika Hrastnik backed up her pole position from qualifying with third on the day.

Elite Men

1st. PIERRON Amaury 3:36.788
2nd. GREENLAND Laurie 3:37.312 (+0.524)
3rd. HART Danny 3:37.448 (+0.660)
4th. SHAW Luca 3:39.036 (+2.248 )
5th. ESTAQUE Thomas 3:39.254 (+2.466)
Elite Women

1st. SEAGRAVE Tahnee 4:26.424
2nd. ATHERTON Rachel 4:26.547 (+0.123)
3rd. HRASTNIK Monika 4:28.029 (+1.605)
4th. HANNAH Tracey 4:29.718 (+3.294)
5th. WIDMANN Veronika 4:35.824 (+9.400)

The fastest men popping bottles on the podium in Val di Sole.
1.6 seconds covered the top three super tight racing on a track as technical as this. More of the same next week please

Amaury Pierron pours one out for his fallen teammate on the podium.

What Happened at the Last Round?

Les Gets returned to the World Cup circuit and provided a unique, old-school challenge for the riders. It was all about speed and the fastest race for years with average speeds above 40km/h. Pierron proved himself to be a grass turn master and took big chunks of time out of Bruni, re-igniting the men's title race.

For the women's field, the final drop was a true test, it took out series leader Rachel Atherton in practice and had to be rolled by a lot of the women in race runs. Those that went for it were rewarded including Tracey Hannah, who took her second win of the season, and Marine Cabirou and Mariana Salazar, who picked up their joint best ever results.

Elite Men

1st. Amaury Pierron: 2:57.008
2nd. Loic Bruni: +2.352
3rd. Laurie Greenland: +3.450
4th. Troy Brosnan: +4.137
5th. Loris Vergier: +4.506
6th. Brendan Fairclough: +4.636
7th. Greg Minnaar :+5.045
8th. David Trummer: +5.114
9th. Thomas Estaque: +5.300
10th. Dean Lucas: +5.684

Elite Women

1st. Tracey Hannah: 3:27.600
2nd. Marine Cabirou: +0.677
3rd. Mariana Salazar: +2.171
4th. Eleonora Farina: +6.080
5th. Nina Hoffmann: +6.457
6th. Veronika Widmann: +6.501
7th. Camille Balanche: +8.334
8th. Agnes Delest: +10.259
9th. Kate Weatherly: +11.445
10th. Miranda Miller: +12.135

Amaury Pierron Loic Bruni Laurie Greenland Troy Brosnan and Loris Vergier on top of the box in Les Gets.
Tracey getting on with tonight post race party.

Tracey Hannah well on her way to becoming a World Cup Champion

The Standings

1st // Loic BRUNI // FRA // 965
2nd= // Amaury PIERRON // FRA // 855
2nd= // Troy BROSNAN // AUS // 855
4th // Loris VERGIER // FRA // 614
5th // Danny HART // GBR // 602
6th // Greg MINNAAR // RSA // 506
7th // Laurie GREENLAND // GBR // 421
8th // Brook MACDONALD // NZL // 393
9th // Mark WALLACE // CAN // 387
10th // David TRUMMER // AUT // 312

1st // Tracey HANNAH // AUS // 1040
2nd // Marine CABIROU // FRA // 840
3rd // Rachel ATHERTON // GBR // 730
4th // Nina HOFFMANN // GER // 695
5th // Veronika WIDMANN // ITA // 514
6th // Kate WEATHERLY // NZL // 452
7th // Mariana SALAZAR // ESA // 448
8th // Eleonora FARINA // ITA // 370
9th= // Emilie SIEGENTHALER // SUI // 326
9th= // Camille BALANCHE // SUI // 326

Weather Forecast

Looks like we're due for a repeat of last year in Val di Sole with rain on qualifying but a drier day for finals.

Thursday, Aug 1 - Timed Training
Times of sun and clouds, a thunderstorm in parts of the area in the afternoon // 28°C // 52% precipitation, 7mm // wind 6km/h

Friday, Aug 2 - Qualifying
Periods of rain and a thunderstorm // 24°C // 66% precipitation, 11mm // wind 6km/h

Saturday, Aug 3 - Finals
Sunshine and patchy clouds, a shower or thunderstorm in spots // 27°C // 40% precipitation, 2mm // wind 6km/h

Weather forecast from Accuweather as of Tuesday, July 30.

The Schedule

Finn Iles finally put together the run he has been after all season to take 8th in the final just 2 seconds from the podium.

Thursday, Aug 1
• 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 Aug 2
• 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 Aug 3
• 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

Connor Fearon using every inch of track to smooth out the big rocks and roots.

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our team in Trentino 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 third round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup free of charge, live or on demand, on The live broadcast starts on Saturday, August 3 at 12:30pm CEST.

Schedule: Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Val di Sole LIVE on Red Bull TV:

Val di Sole DHI Women: August 3 Live on Red Bull TV 12:30pm CEST
Val di Sole DHI Men: August 3 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 our analysis of the season so far here.

The Fantasy Downhill League is Presented by Trek and SRAM.

MENTIONS: @trek / @SramMedia


  • 21 0
 Dave Trummer from AUS? We will claim him like we claimed Russell Crowe, regards.... Australia.
  • 21 2
 This was informative. Go Gwin! I mean Bruni....oops I meant Pierron... oh f*ck it!
  • 16 0
 Honestly I have a hard time picking a favourite. I love watching them all, it's even clear that they're all rooting for each other after themselves
  • 24 0
 Brosnan is overdue! Would like to see him take it.
  • 6 0
 I get stoked watching a good run, regarless of the favorites, will be nice to see the Denim Destroyer in a top 10 spot!!!
  • 15 0
 Shout out to Laurie Greenland being super consistent since coming into Elite Men’s.
Maybe it’s best if he stays lurking in the shadows.
  • 7 1
 Sam Hill's 2008 run never gets old, the speed he was carrying through the last few woods sections on camera was just otherworldly and looks fast even in 2019.

Hadn't seen Gwin's 2012 run before today (only started following WCDH in 2014) but wow that was also stupid impressive. 8 second margin on Greg Minnaar in Val di Sole...
  • 8 1
 PB Request: please include all time zones into the broadcast times. Thanks!
  • 1 1
 or do some single digit math?
  • 3 0
 @robwhynot: I've made mistakes in the past!
  • 5 0
 if there are 2 camera angles, why would u leave the brake hose view in there?
  • 6 1
  • 2 0
 Correction --> this had to be Gwin's "Best runs ever"

But, he's had so many "greats" it's hard to rank just one as the best
  • 2 0
 Great composed article. excellent level of information. Sets the scene well to get excited for this next dh round. Cheers James Smurthwaite!
  • 1 2
 But what were you experiencing really if I wanted someone to just ride the freaking trail I would just check all the different POVs from all the riders n save myself a headache from the screams. He really makes those previous really annoying far from exiting
  • 2 0
 why its called "seeding" at junior women's and the others qualifying?
  • 10 0
 Usually "seeding" means all riders will qualify... And "seeding" is only determining which order they do race runs in.
So my guess is, there are few enough junior women that they will all get to race, no matter their time?
  • 1 0
 I think they will all go into finals as long as they finish their run, so it's just to establish the starting order.
  • 1 0
 2010 had a womens world championship but not a mens?
  • 1 0
 Just my opinion, but that’s what a good dh track looks like..
  • 1 0
 Are Myriam Nicole, Tawnee and Rachel still out?
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