Most qualifying sessions tend to pale into insignificance with attention quickly turning to finals, but this afternoon's action in Andorra had more than a few key moments that might play a more significant role in the outcome of the 2019 season. First off, Loic Bruni beat Troy Brosnan to the top spot by a mere +0.010... Fine margins on track and fine margins in the overall standings, that 0.010 of a second was enough to ensure it'll be Bruni that'll be wearing the leader's jersey tomorrow. He'll be wanting to keep a firm grip on that top spot to the end of the season, but as always, a rider's fortune can switch in a heartbeat. It was only a few hours prior that Loic was picking himself out of a cloud of dust having had a rather sizable stack in the lower woods. Those two found themselves over 3 seconds clear of the chasing pack with Pierron, Vergier, Trummer, Hart and Greenland all in quick succession. It'll be interesting to see who, if anyone, is able to challenge them tomorrow.
It was tight atop the women's too. Nina Hoffmann snagged her first qualifying top spot just ahead of the hard-charging Marine Cabirou, both of whom could take their maiden win tomorrow. Tracey Hannah came unstuck after qualifying fastest at all of the previous 3 rounds, falling foul of the deep dust and rutted up course; she would crash 3 times in the bottom woods. She was fastest before doing so and was content enough not being last down the hill tomorrow. Rachel Atherton was 3 seconds back in third despite a fastest top split, then a little further back in behind her were Emilie Siegenthaler and Vero Widmann. Who will come out on top tomorrow is anyone's guess. Will Hoffmann or Cabirou take home their elusive first win? Can Hannah or Atherton make up the ground tomorrow? Or will someone else get in on the act? In the juniors, it was the usual Thibaut Daprela and Vali Holl story, both of their times would place them will inside the elite top 10.
You can almost watch the ruts and holes being dug deeper and deeper with every passing wheel; it's going to be mega rough and mega physical on both bikes and bodies. Tune back in tomorrow to see how it unfolded for some, and unravelled for others.
: @natedh9 @andy9 @rossbellphoto