The Grass Finale: XC Course Preview Photo Epic - Val di Sole World Cup 2017

Aug 25, 2017
by Matthew DeLorme  



The DH track here in Val di Sole is one of legendary status, and rightfully so. It's a masterpiece that makes excellent use of some of the finest terrain in the world. It's rough, rocky, brutal and loved by all. Considering the quality of Val Di Sole's DH track, you might think that the XC course would be just as great, but in point of fact, that couldn't be further from the truth. It's as if the course designers here considered the DH track a crowning achievement and then decided to put their tools away when it came time to lay out the XC course. A 570-meter flat grass straight, which is more than ten percent of the lap, is just the first of many complaints. Half of this cross-country course seems to be made of taped-open, grass fields, and dirt-road, double-track climbs. This seems hardly in touch with the caliber of technical courses we have seen in XC in recent years. "Uninspired" is the word that immediately comes to mind. With all of the terrain available and a little more effort, surely something better could have been built. That said, this is a power course and those with the fitness will have the day. We enlisted T Mo to spice up the better bits and spared you most of the grass parts. There's also a special appearance by Loris Vergier. Let's get to it, shall we?

It starts and ends here.
It starts and ends here.

All that tape in the grass. Sigh.
All that tape in the grass. Sigh.

With more that one rider on it at once line choice here will be difficult. Credit where credit is due.
With more that one rider on it at once, line choice here will be difficult. Credit where credit is due.

Boom T Mo doubles the 4X course section
Boom! T Mo doubles the 4X course section!

Some loose pea gravel over hard in these corners will be one of the most technical aspects of the day. Traction is tricky here.
Some loose, pea gravel over the hard pack in these corners will be one of the most technical aspects of the day. Traction is tricky here.

This dry pea gravel on hard pack is going to be tricky many riders have said it s the hardest aspect to come to grips with.
This dry, pea gravel on hard pack is going to be tricky. Many riders have said it's the hardest aspect to come to grips with.

Rocks they are over pretty quickly.
Rocks! They are over pretty quickly.

Single track pinch. it s time to show a bit of style.
Singletrack pinch. it's time to show a bit of style.

T Mo uses ALL of the berm to keep exit speed up.
T Mo uses ALL of the berm to keep exit speed up.

An open drop that runs next to the DH.
An open drop that runs next to the DH.

A big rock with a couple holes after it has a nice line to the right.
A big rock, with a couple holes after it, has a nice line to the right.

Holes avoided.
Holes avoided.

Loose loam. We wish there was more of it in the track.
Loose loam. We only wish there was more of it in the track.

Love the rut and roots we wish there was more. This isn t the gripe of one or two people. Many teams and riders feel this way.
Love the rut and roots. Again, we wish there was more of it on the course. This isn't the gripe of just one or two bystanders. Many teams and riders feel this way.

Pedal across a golf course anyone
Pedal across a golf course, anyone?

Hey look a dirt road climb
Hey, look! A dirt-road climb!

This seems a better option for a climb but we are on a dirt road instead.
This seems a better option for a climb, but we are on a dirt road instead.

More non technical climbing.
More non-technical climbing.

Joy of joys Roots and rocks
Joy of joys! Roots and rocks!

There is natural terrain here just not a ton of it.
There is natural terrain here, just not a ton of it.

Cutting up to smooth out the corner into the roughest section of the track.
Cutting up to smooth out the corner into the roughest section of the track.

A couple whoops and the hardest parts are nearly over.
A couple whoops and the hardest parts are nearly over.

The exit of the best part of the track. Stay high to keep speed up and pump into the next little climb.
The exit of the best part of the track. Stay high to keep speed up and pump into the next little climb.

T Mo enters the crux of the course a couple of rooty natural deep compressions.
T Mo enters the crux of the course, a couple of rooty, natural, deep compressions.



Dolomite Rocks seems the only part of the course that had effort put into it. Seeing how the trees were all clear cut perhaps it may have been better to let the natural terrain come through and put that man power someplace else It makes no sense.
Dolomite Rocks seems the only part of the course that had effort put into it. Seeing how the trees were all clear cut, perhaps it may have been better to let the natural terrain come through, and put that manpower someplace else?

T Mo agrees Dolomite rocks runs in the wrong direction. Up would have been better.
T Mo agrees, Dolomite rocks runs in the wrong direction. Up would have been better.


A chute. With fluro point on a tiny stump.
A chute. With fluro point on a tiny stump.

At least they were nice and taped this one high.
At least they were nice and taped this one high.

That view though.
That view though.

This one has a bit of punch at the beginning.
This one has a bit of punch at the beginning.

Get your party helmet on the track just got rowdy
Get your party helmet on, the track just got rowdy!

Loris Vergier shows how granite steps are done. Cut to the inside and smash the following corner.
Loris Vergier shows how granite steps are done. Cut to the inside and smash the following corner.

T Mo steps off the granite steps which is a much better set up for the following corner.
T Mo steps off the granite steps, which is a much better set up for the following corner.

If you are going to include a small jump why tape it wide so everyone goes around
If you are going to include a small jump, why tape it wide so everyone goes around it?

The intended activities are clearly stated.
The intended activities are clearly stated.



61 Comments

  • + 19
 The man made tech sections of XC courses make me laugh. Why not just tape off a section of woods. Same result and now you can drink beers for the next three hours.
  • + 19
 everoyne loves the DH course at VDS. apparently its the exact opposite for the XC course.
  • + 2
 Apparently... I think it has some nice section though.
  • + 5
 Apparently, none of the riders complained. Just the person writing this article.
I still think xc is way better to watch live than dh, just because they run all togheter and do several laps.
If you want to see dh, go ahead -I love it. For xc you have to appreciate different things. If you ever seen absalon doing a jump in person, it is incredible how precise, effortless and elegant he is. This course is actually pretty good because it has many places to pass, unlike some courses where they have to go single row 3/4 of th lap. They may have more rowdy sections, but it kind of kills the mood of the race to go single line forever.
  • + 5
 @RedRedRe: It's not that it is a bad course, it's spectator friendly and will make for some great back and forth battles, but it could be incredible with a few subtle reroutes.
  • + 8
 @RedRedRe: ever seen how the majority of WC DH men and women do a jump? It is incredible how precise, effortless and elegant they are.
  • - 5
flag fattyheadshok (Aug 25, 2017 at 22:14) (Below Threshold)
 @RedRedRe: Ever seen the average slope style rider do a jump? It's incredible how precise effortless and elegant they are.
  • + 2
 @TwoWheelPhrenzy: yeah. But then you see absalon, and u get why they call him le roY...aka the king. Not the king be his success... he was called le rai before he won anything... just style
  • + 3
 @RedRedRe: actually, several riders have complained. Look at Anton Cooper's IG. Bec Henderson has said it's horrible. I could go on....and on.....
  • - 2
 @mdelorme: cooper said there is a lot of grass. Is that a complain? The other rider i have no idea who she is. This is one of schurter favourite tracks.
  • + 0
 @RedRedRe: I bet you have never seen a DH WC in reality. it's not just precise, effortless and elegant but frickin unbelievable... the live feed can not show how crazy, steep and fast it is. the XC feed on the other hand is not that far from reality
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: The racers aren't going to openly complain for fear of backlash from the UCI. Yes, that was Coopers way of saying it wasn't up to snuff. I've been thanked by more racers for saying what they feel the can't.
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: I don't think you actually even follow XCO if you don't know who Rebecca Henderson is... there's more to xco than schurter...
  • + 14
 Made for lawnmower racing, not bikes?
  • + 6
 So thank the UCI for making XC meeting that thing called 'gravel riding'. Those boring grass open sections and dirt roads might help for an easy Tv coverage, which nowadays seems to be a key factor for track design. Apart from that, I can't stand those artificial rock gardens, mainly when there are great woods in the place with lots of natural rocks and roots sections.
  • + 9
 Did Tracy set the course record on that run?
  • + 2
 She will probably get lapped in the women field after 3 laps
  • + 4
 @RedRedRe: You're right....so much dirt road,
  • + 9
 Not really a WC level XC track IMO. What's Vergier doing out there?
  • + 4
 Training.
  • + 7
 Great photos - I know I am being ANAL - but pea gravel is rounded not angular.
  • + 1
 Was about to tentatively post the same thing! Pinkbike needs to send someone over to ride in Western Australia for a bit to see what real pea gravel is!
  • + 3
 Sorry, angular gravel. Not the point of this post though.....
  • + 7
 Maybe some riders will pull out their CX bikes for the race...
  • + 5
 on a top fuel with the seat up? I'd love to see her assassinate the trail in person.
  • + 1
 She has a dropper. Unlike most XC folks.
  • + 7
 looks terrible.
  • + 4
 The course may not be that exciting, but the racers are still going to be what makes it an exciting race.
  • + 2
 would be cool to watch loris do the entire track on whatever he's riding (looks like a bronson?), or just the 4x part. looks pretty fun actually, but world cup XC race courses aren't made to be fun i guess
  • + 2
 Hightower
  • + 4
 He would look half the speed of Nino.
  • + 0
 @jclnv: Because he doesn't do half the juice that Nino probably does.
  • + 5
 Made for TV, not for challenging riding.
  • + 3
 Ugh. I guess the world is determined to ignore lessons from the MSA track builders.
  • - 2
 How is MSA that different than Val di Sole? They are pretty much the same type of track. Both old school, one has longer climbs, the other shorter climbs.
  • + 4
 Hey at least we get to see Tracey Mosely being awesome.
  • + 1
 I think its funny that they are talking about the difficulty of the little gravel section, where I live the tracks are literally completely covered in that losse junk
  • + 1
 wow great photos, looks like an epic setting....but a lot of complaining about the track. like too much, remember you are in Italy...
  • + 2
 It's not Italy, it's Trentino. This complaining goes well with the vibe of the region Smile
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Not real Italy....
  • + 0
 @mdelorme: like you are not a real photographer?
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: oh Jesus, I've been to almost every part of Italy from Firenze up and Trentino is quite special. Definitely not the maritime vibe or anything Tuscany like. Furthermore I have now family in Riva del Garda and some members are quite outspoken about separation from the rest of Italy. Being Austrian/German nostalgia can be felt in the region. It also feels a bit like in a Police country.
  • + 1
 @RedRedRe: butt hurt much?
  • + 2
 Whatever the course the race better be longer than 77 minutes. Batty was just getting warmed up at MSA. Go Canada!
  • + 0
 A rock and a root and a bump and a long flat grassy track. Yep, XC got just what it bargained for. There's even a whole after a rock - wow!
  • + 2
 haha hilarious photo article. nice work
  • + 1
 So... huge f*cking mountain *right there*, but nope, "let's race on the lawn"... SMH
  • + 0
 The author describes the course as mainly open grass routes but the pictures tell otherwise. Finest single track! So what's the point of this complaint?
  • + 7
 I shot only 1/3 of the track. The other 2/3 aren't worth shooting.
  • + 2
 @mdelorme: thx for explaining. Makes sense.
  • - 3
 Lame lame lame and weak! How can both these races fall under the heading "mountain biking"? Clearly if this is the extent of differentiation between DH and XC then only one should bear the moniker Mtb. The other needs to be called by a different name. I'll pass on watching this yawn fest of a XC race.
  • + 2
 you would die of tiredness riding it then die again from crashing in the rock gardens
  • + 1
 Vergier should race the XC!
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