Practice Photo Report: Hitting Warp Speed - Vallnord World Cup DH 2018

Jul 12, 2018
by Nathan Hughes  



After a delicate start to proceedings out on the hill last week, on an ultra-slippery Black Snake, today was just the opposite with riders seeming to take no time at all to start slapping and shralping the La Massana course. Even a fair dose of torrential rain did little to dampen the spirit of shred in the timed training as riders, already well-familiar with the unchanged track, began to flex and show what could be done at race pace.

While the majority are well acquainted with these Andorran steeps, we're seeing the deepest ruts ever as tyres continue to dig deeper into the ground and catching handlebars on hanging roots become a genuine concern in the turns. The jump and berms of the open section always makes for great viewing and this afternoon produced the goods with occasional explosions of shale. Rachel Atherton was the only female rider to make a serious bid on the TT session in the women's field, while the men saw a continuation of Amaury Pierron's dominance, 2.5 seconds up on Loic Bruni, with 4:20.7 the time to beat so far.


Sam Blenkinsop gets the blood flowing as he warms up in the pits before practice.
Sam Blenkinsop gets the blood flowing as he warms up in the pits before practice.

You can see the weather looming large on the mountains before it hits the track. It looks like the worst is now behind us.
You can see the weather looming large on the mountains before it hits the track. It looks like the worst is now behind us.

A little extra tape of the knees for Loic Bruni this week to give a little extra support of the really steep parts of the track.
A little extra tape on the knees of Loic Bruni this week to give a little extra support of the really steep parts of the track.

After blowing up some corners Danny Hart got a bit to wild in the woods ands bike was seen being shuttled to the top with some important pieces missing. Dany was uninjured and back amongst it 15 minutes later.
After blowing up some corners, Danny Hart got a bit too wild in the woods and his bike was seen being shuttled to the top with some important pieces missing. Danny was uninjured and back amongst it 15 minutes later.

No one hit this corner with more authority than Danny Hart.
No one hit this corner with more authority than Hart.

Greg Williamson boosts above the stunning Pyrenees backdrop that engulfs the track s surroundings. He s hungry to right the wrongs of last week where he got caught out in the qualifying chaos.
Greg Williamson boosts above the stunning Pyrenees backdrop that engulfs the track's surroundings. He's hungry to right the wrongs of last week where he got caught out in the qualifying chaos.

Good times in good colors. Deano and Chuck take a break on the soul train.
Good times in good colors. Deano and Chuck take a break on the soul train.

The 2015 Vallnord World Champ attacking his first lap of the day.
The 2015 Vallnord World Champ attacking his first lap of the day.

50 of the Parkin bros double act that have brought you the best WC highlights the last umpteen seasons.
50% of the Parkin bros double act that have brought you the best WC highlights the last umpteen seasons.

Laurie Greenland sports the number 2 plate after his outstanding race last weekend in Val di Sole.
Laurie Greenland sports the number 2 plate after his outstanding race last weekend in Val di Sole.

Eddy Masters is a due a decent score at World Cup any time now just as soon as he can catch a break.
Eddy Masters is a due a decent score at World Cup any time now, just as soon as he can catch a break.

Brook MacDonald hitting warp and the 10th quickest TT run.

So. Pitted. Bro.
So. Pitted. Bro.

Luca Shaw emerges from the dark woods as the rains continued to fall on timed training runs.
Luca Shaw emerges from the dark woods as the rains continued to fall on timed training runs.

Last year s junior winner Finn Iles is clearly a threat for the elite podium today riding to 5th in the TT.
Last year's junior winner, Finn Iles, is clearly a threat for the elite podium, today riding to 5th in the TT.

Tahnee Seagave checks in with Max Commencal at the finish line to see how Myriam Nicole is doing as she recovers from a back injury.
Tahnee Seagrave checks in with Max Commencal at the finish line to see how Myriam Nicole is doing as she recovers from a back injury.

The signature tie-dye of the youngest member of Atherton Racing Kade Edwards.
The signature tie-dye of the youngest member of Atherton Racing, Kade Edwards.

Phil Atwill looks rampant as ever get ready to see the plate number drop away for MSA.
Phil Atwill looks rampant as ever, get ready to see the plate number drop away for MSA.

The Look on Loris Vergier s Face when the crew at Oakley handed him the pair of custom goggles Eli Tomac wore during one of his motos at Hang Town.
The look on Loris Vergier's Face when the crew at Oakley handed him the pair of custom goggles Eli Tomac wore at Hang Town.

Jack Moir is back in the game how much of an impact can he make after returning from injury
Jack Moir is back in the game, how much of an impact can he make after returning from injury?

Just as Group A took to the course for train runs the sky began to get ugly.
Just as Group A took to the course for training runs the sky began to get ugly.

Gaetan Vige trying to outrun the coming storm.
Gaetan Vige trying to outrun the coming storm.

Something new at the Commencal 100 pits
Something new at the Commencal 100 pits?

Mark Wallace braved the muddy slip and slip that occurred just as the rains began to fall at the beginning of timed training.
Mark Wallace braved the muddy slip and slide that occurred just as the rains began to fall at the beginning of timed training.

Emilie Siegenthaler deep in thought about another practice run or just zoned out waiting for Tracey Hannah
Emilie Siegenthaler deep in thought about another practice run or just zoned out waiting for Tracey Hannah?

Laurie Greenland leading out the Mondraker train in morning practice.
Laurie Greenland leading out the Mondraker train in morning practice.

Greg Minnaar was back on track today although just riding and not planning to race. We ll hopefully see him back on the hunt in Mont Sainte Anne
Greg Minnaar was back on track today although just riding and not planning to race. We'll hopefully see him back on the hunt in Mont Sainte Anne

With most of the Union Devinci team sidelined with injuries EWS specialist Keegan Wright has stepped in for some DH duties this week.
With most of the Unior Devinci team sidelined with injuries, EWS specialist Keegan Wright has stepped in for some DH duties this week.

Laurie Greenland verus a fierce flower foreground.
Laurie Greenland versus a fierce flower foreground.

Benoit Coulanges launching his roost into orbit. He went well on the Val di Sole steeps and looked equally as comfortable out there today.
Benoit Coulanges launching his roost into orbit. He went well on the Val di Sole steeps and looked equally as comfortable out there today.

Vali Holl took her time getting up to speed in the morning but by timed runs was looking as quick as many of the elites.
Vali Holl took her time getting up to speed in the morning, but by timed runs was looking as quick as many of the elites.

Brook Macdonald squashes the doubles on the last open section before the steep woods.
Brook MacDonald squashes the doubles on the last open section before the steep woods.

American young gun Bruce Klein is back adding just one more to the insane roster of talent on Commencal.
American young gun, Bruce Klein is back, adding just one more to the insane roster of talent on Commencal.

Into the storm. As riders headed up for timed training the sky went black and rains began to fall. With the track turning super slick in a hurry a lot of riders opted to call it a day early.
Into the storm. As riders headed up for timed training the sky went black and rains began to fall. With the track turning super slick in a hurry, a lot of riders opted to call it a day early.

Baptise Pierron finished just outside the top 10 in Val di Sole and was fully committed up on track today. He ll be looking to get on the right side of the top 10 this weekend and is well placed to do so.
Baptiste Pierron finished just outside the top 10 in Val di Sole and was fully committed up on track today. He'll be looking to get on the right side of the top 10 this weekend and is well placed to do so.

Thomas Estaque one of so many Commencal threats for the podium.
Thomas Estaque; one of so many Commencal threats for the podium.

Gee Atherton rials the fast and rutted berms out in the open. As the dat wore on these corners would become rough and loose and once the rain fell extremely slippery.
Gee Atherton rails the fast and rutted berms out in the open. As the day wore on, these corners would become rough and loose, and once the rain fell, extremely slippery.

Remi Thirion has tasted victory before on this track and it has always suited his aggressive style well. Remi is still getting back up to speed after breaking his back in 2017 but if there is any track he is capable of a top result it is this one.
Remi Thirion has tasted victory before on this track, and it has always suited his aggressive style well. Remi is still getting back up to speed after breaking his back in 2017, but if there is any track he is capable of a top result it is this one.

Finn Iles gives his hand a rest before the tackling the rough stuff.
Finn Iles gives his hand a rest before the tackling the rough stuff.

Tracey Hannah getting locked and loaded for a roller coaster ride down the Andorran steeps.
Tracey Hannah getting locked and loaded for a roller coaster ride down the Andorran steeps.

Tahnee Seagrave throwing shapes through the steeps on the final minute of track there s no letup till you ve crossed the line.
Tahnee Seagrave throwing shapes through the steeps on the final minute of track, there's no letup till you've crossed the line.

Matt Walker senior isn t afraid of hitting his berms at terminal velocity.
Matt Walker (senior) isn't afraid of hitting his berms at terminal velocity.

Dean Lucas digging in to the Vallnord shale and looking to get that plate into single digits heading to MSA.
Dean Lucas digging into the Vallnord shale and looking to get that plate into single digits heading to MSA.

Rachel Atherton takes in the view of the Pyrenees for a quick second before dropping off the bridge and getting down to business.
Rachel Atherton takes in the view of the Pyrenees for a quick second before dropping off the bridge and getting down to business.

Greg Williamson looking to put wrongs to right after missing the cut for finals at Val Di Sole.
Greg Williamson looking to put those wrongs to right after missing the cut for finals at Val Di Sole.

Greg Minnaar fitting a brace to his wrist that lost all it s strength while his broken arm was immobilized. Greg would take a few runs just for the training as he works to gat back up to speed but he is not racing this weekend.
Greg Minnaar fitting a brace to his wrist that lost all its strength while his broken arm was immobilized. Greg would take a few runs just for the training as he works to get back up to speed, but he is not racing this weekend.

The French were out in force today with a whole cluster of riders looking pinned from the off including Loris Vergier of course.
The French were out in force today with a whole cluster of riders looking pinned from the off, including Loris Vergier of course.

Just before the start of timed training the rain clouds began to loom large before unleashing a brief albeit heavy shower to dampen down the track once more.
Just before the start of timed training, the rain clouds began to loom large before unleashing a brief albeit heavy shower to dampen down the track once more.

It s no surprise that Amaury Pierron looks fast smooth and confident on track in Andorra.
It's no surprise that Amaury Pierron looks fast, smooth and confident on track in Andorra.

Last year s winner Troy Brosnan is on the hunt to make it two in a row here and take career win number 3.
Last year's winner Troy Brosnan is on the hunt to make it two in a row here and take career win number 3.

Coulanges is in fine form right now and could be a good wild card shout for the top 10 this weekend.
Coulanges is in fine form right now and could be a good wild card shout for the top 10 this weekend.

Bruni powering into the open section taking the 2nd fastest TT lap of the day.
Bruni powering into the open section, taking the 2nd fastest TT lap of the day.

There s similarities between the Val di Sole and La Massana tracks. Monika Hrastnik will be hoping for a repeat of her run from last weekend and to end up on the podium if not better.
There are similarities between the Val di Sole and La Massana tracks. Monika Hrastnik will be hoping for a repeat of her run from last weekend and to end up on the podium if not better.

Rachel Atherton took control of the overall last weekend but was pipped to the win by Tahnee Seagrave. Those two look set to battle out the remainder of the season.
Rachel Atherton took control of the overall last weekend but was pipped to the win by Tahnee Seagrave. Those two look set to battle out the remainder of the season.

Matt Walker gives is his full commitment
Matt Walker gives is his full commitment.

Mike Jones putting a little too much hot sauce on the dog.
Mike Jones putting a little too much hot sauce on the dog.

Surviving to tell the tale Jones was back out on track for a top 20 TT.
Surviving to tell the tale, Jones was back out on track for a top 20 TT.

Brook Macdonald loving the fast and steep track in Andorra.
Brook MacDonald loving the fast and steep track in Andorra.

Is Gee Atherton back TT says maybe so...
Is Gee Atherton back? TT says maybe so...

If you didn t see Remi Thirion s winning run from here 5 years ago go watch it and whet your appetite for this weekend s racing. It d be great to see Remi up on the podium again.
If you didn't see Remi Thirion's winning run from here 5 years ago go watch it and whet your appetite for this weekend's racing. It'd be great to see Remi up on the podium again.

No forgetting Vallnord is a special place for this man... The current defending World Champ also took his first gold medal here 3 seasons ago.
No forgetting Vallnord is a special place for this man too... The current defending World Champ also took his first gold medal here 3 seasons ago.


Must Read This Week

44 Comments

  • + 48
 those berm photos are SAVAGE.
  • + 2
 AGREED! That pic of Phil Atwill is unreal! He is railed and completely locked in for his next line.
  • + 26
 Some of these shots, man... You guys are killing it!
  • + 13
 10 years since Gee, Rachael and Dan won in their respective category's here at Andorra. You can bet your bottom dollar they will both be giving it their all this weekend.
  • + 7
 Great article as always. Though I can't help notice the fact that Danny Hart, while "hitting that corner with more authority than anyone else" is sporting EX471 rims (25mm width)...He must have not gotten the memo from Matt Wrag's last article comparing rim widths! Big Grin
  • + 7
 oh no. a catastrophic alu bar failure! the sky is falling!!!!!
  • + 1
 Not sure about Harts bar based on the pic. In
  • + 3
 Something screwy with the comment box. Anyway, krazieghost says it's alum, and that's what he's running in this bike check -

m.pinkbike.com/news/bike-check-danny-hart-saracen-myst-2018-bike.html

Although he does say he wants to try a carbon bar. My guess is it's alum based on how it broke at the stem, whereas the disconcerting number of carbon bars I've seen broken tend to randomly explode between the stem and brake/shifter clamps despite claims it's due to over tightened bolts.
  • + 2
 @jackalope: the carbon bars breaking at the brake clamp are almost always on people running sram brakes. That clamp design is notorious for stressing the bars.
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: certainly won't argue with that, but it's deeply troubling to see them break like dead center between the brake clamp and stem (ie- improper clamping forces had nothing to do with it).
  • + 1
 No way that’s aluminum, definitely carbon based on the frayed ends
  • + 2
 If you look at the full pic zoomed in, it looks like it is carbon, guys. But the stem also looks like it has a chunk of tree on it, so I'd say it must have taken a hard impact.
  • + 1
 @silkyrhino: It's a PRO Tharsis Trail bar... you can tell by the graphic
  • + 1
 looks to me like danny wanted to try a carbon bar so they switched to the Carbon version of the Pro Tharsis Trail bar and it broke, possibly from an impact. The bars in that bike check are the same brand but they look different at the clamp. so i think they've been changed to test the carbon version here.
  • + 1
 i fake news'ed it
  • + 6
 That Luca Shaw photo!! Nice capture Dave.
  • + 2
 Hope he takes a win soon
  • + 5
 Is Brendog practicing for an on-the-bike limbo contest?
  • + 4
 shred it like its 2015 Remi

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulseoKJaZWc
  • + 2
 For those of us who prefer video footage, sweet raw action from 'ze germans' videos.mtb-news.de/50342/vmax_raw_downhill_world_cup_2018_andorra
  • - 1
 I'm impressed at the building level of fitness and attention to each riders physical status. Have been fortunate to get free functional training from a family member and it destroys the old school workout mentality. Seeing the riders and trainers moving more in that direction every race confirms what I already know.
  • + 3
 awesome photos!Hart´s bike was sacrificed to MTB goods hahahaha
  • + 3
 Valinord and Vali do Sole - it's clear why Vali Höll is dominating!
  • + 1
 Commencal must be doing something right with team riders, so many already at the top and so many with great potential of getting there!
  • + 1
 Looks like they enlist so many riders that some just have to win? Lots of riders sport their logo. Didn't check the statistics though. Any insights?
  • + 1
 @Slabrung: theres many different teams riding on Commencals, not all just on one team

Commencal Factory,
100%/Commencal,
Dorval?
  • + 3
 Aren't there actually 3 Parkin Bros? Also was Danny's bar carbon?
  • + 2
 outstanding photos, for free! cheers
  • + 2
 I think those berms needs to be screened.
  • + 2
 Amazing photos. Better than the videos imo!
  • + 2
 Tomac goggles, nice gift!
  • + 2
 Go Amaury #1 and Go Baptist
  • + 1
 Go Amaury #1 and Go Baptiste Pierron
  • + 1
 @davetrumpore the clouds over Gaetan Vige pic is phenomenal. Just so ominous & foreboding!
  • + 1
 anyone know what's up with the gadget on hart's front brake line?
  • + 1
 I'm surprised to see only one photo of #1.
  • + 1
 What the **** is that thing on top of Blenki's top lip? :-)
  • + 0
 Dirty Sánchez?
  • + 1
 I wonder if Mike Jones found his GoPro....
  • + 1
 This is going to be a good one Smile
  • + 1
 I absolutely LOVE your photo reports. Thank you guys for this treat.
  • + 1
 I only shralp when no one's watching.
  • + 1
 That Shaw photo!
  • + 1
 This is procore

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