Here it is, the final round of the 2015 World Cup and we are in one of the most storied venues of them all. Val Di Sole. Known for hosting one of the most rowdy and technical downhill tracks on the planet, Val Di Sole is easily one of the best places to sort the final standings in this year's World Cup battle.
We arrive here with the Women's and Junior titles already decided, but second and third spots are still up for grabs in both categories. While in the Men's race, Aaron Gwin has pulled a strong lead on Greg Minnaar and Loic Bruni. Though mathematically all three have a shot at the title, crashes, injuries, and mechanicals could easily factor in on these treacherous slopes to leave the door wide open for the competition to capitalize. Gwin has all the momentum coming off a win in Windham and has been on the top step in Val Di Sole two times before, while Loic is fired up to take his long overdue first WC win, and Greg who has never won here could spoil the show for both. And while well down in the points, Gee has won twice here as well and is looking to grab his first win and some confidence going into World Champs. In the women's race, Rachel is the odds on favorite with Emmeline Ragot out with injury, but a strong and motivated Myriam Nicole wants nothing more than to repeat her victory on these same slopes from 2011.
As for the track it's as legendary as ever.
The start has been moved up the hill a bit and riders hit a few fast bermed corners before dropping into the steep woods. Gone is the gnarly opening chute of years past that had become more rock than dirt and entirely too dangerous. In its place is a less steep but more tech and twisty opening that joins the old track about a third of the way down. From there it is the classic steep and gnarly woods that Val Di Sole is famous for. Not one section is straight forward, and often the good line dropping into a section ends in roots and rocks, and the clean exit requires a setup on a less obvious and more difficult line. Adding to the difficulty are the endless rocks and roots of a track almost entirely in the woods that makes memorizing each section extremely difficult. Fatigue and arm pump will surely be a factor, and only the strongest riders will be able to stay fast and smooth while pushing all the way to the bottom.
Another factor will surely be the weather this week as the Sole seems to have gone on holiday from the Val Di Sole and the forecast calls for clouds and chance of rain almost every day. With the gnarliest track of the year mixed with ever changing weather and all to play for, it is guaranteed to be a World Cup finale for the record books.About the PhotographersDave Trumpore • Age: 35 • Years Shooting: 4 Dave spent the bulk of the past 17 years racing professionally before realizing that despite qualifying for the random World Cup final here and there, the next generation was just way too fast and way more talented. Upon hanging up his racing boots in 2010, it would be a few years until Dave picked up a camera and started shooting the odd race here and there as a way to stay in touch with all the friends he had made over the years, and the rest as they say is history. In just a few years time his photos have graced the pages of just about every MTB magazine and major media outlet, while his commercial client list includes a who's who of the cycling industry, and he is lucky enough to shoot regularly with some of the best riders on the planet. Currently at Pinkbike, Dave shoots the Downhill WC and the Enduro World Series as well as contributing to the occasional editorial story.
Matthew Delorme • Age: 40 • Years Shooting: 8 Matthew DeLorme is just one of Pinkbike’s motley crew of World Cup Photographers. He currently lives out of a Ogio bag, and calls the road his home. Delorme works for Trek Bicycle, covering their MTB racing programs. He can usually be found laying in the dirt trackside, cracking jokes and saying things that make little to no sense. He enjoys capturing accessory moments and the journey every bit as much as catching the action shot. Nathan Hughes • Age: 28 • Years Shooting: 2 Nathan Hughes was snared as mainstay Pinbike media crew for the 2013 World Cup season and has been trapped behind the lens and the keyboard ever since. In between the biggest bike events of the year Nathan can be found on client shoots, making far-off travel stories and trying to catch a moment to spin the pedals himself. A great appreciation of the wilderness, the fear of a normal life and the quest for the perfect picture will have him hooked and looking to raise the bar for years to come.