So here we are in Julien Absalon's back yard for round three of the XC World Cup, La Bresse, France. This course is the ultimate. It starts with a brutal climb before descending back and forth down a rock strewn technical single track on a steep mountain side, which means riders will have to be on top of their game. Julien and Nino had one of the most memorable finishes in recent times last week in Albstadt, with Nino pulling out the win by half a bike length. This time, Julien will want nothing but the top step at home, and he has massive crowds behind him. Jolanda Neff was out in practice, but will she be healthy enough to return to the podium? Will Annika Langvad run away with another win on this technical course? We will have to wait and see.
Georgia Gould and Katerina Nash helping out with team dinner.
Luna girls keep busy on and off the track.
There is a lot of cable to be laid for the live feed.
One of many forks heading through SRAM tech on Thursday.
The SRAM boys were working full tilt to keep riders' bikes in top shape.
Julien is the clear favorite here in La Bresse. Multiple French television crews came through the BMC pits to film before Absalon went out for practice.
Dan McConnell puts his feet up on a rest day.
La Bresse serves up heaps of technical riding. It is by far one of the all time best XC courses, testing riders skills to the limits.
Sergio Mantecon dropping into the front side during practice.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot showing Julien how it's done.
Nino testing out his new dual suspension rocket. Can he edge out Julien once again?
Maxime Marotte has had a stellar start to the season, will he be able to keep the streak up?
Julien Absalon having no troubles with the course during practice.
Sabine Spitz speeding her way down the mountain.
Jenny Rissveds playing a little follow the leader in practice.
It's been sunny and 75 the last couple of days, but the riders are coming back properly muddy.
Maja looks on as the master of La Bresse skillfully navigates a mud river.
Katarina Nash and Georgia Gould smashing laps in practice one.
The track is mainly dry, save for the few springs that percolate up and make small sections an absolute muddy mess.
Bec Henderson riding the stairs of one of the old stone walls that perforate the hillside.
Catharine Pendrel weaving her way through the lush green on top of the track.
Erin Hauk navigating the rough stuff on day one of practice.
Kitty keeps guard of this vintage 2012 Julien Absalon WC board.