The Closer: Trackwalk - Vallnord DH World Cup 2016

Aug 31, 2016
by Dave Trumpore  




It has been a crazy year indeed and one that has been filled with some incredible highs as well as some difficult lows. A season that has seen domination by Rachel Atherton, the resurgence of Danny Hart to create a new rivalry with Aaron Gwin, and the rise of youngester Finn Iles. We have also lost two riders in the legendary Stevie Smith and most recently up and comer Zarja Černilogar. To say the 2016 World Cup has been bittersweet would perhaps be an understatement if not downright cliche, but there really is no other way to say it. It's going to be a hard season to forget for all the right reasons and all the wrong ones as well.

So with one race to go and all the points on the line we find ourselves in Andorra on a track that while only raced twice previously, has already become almost legendary. Enough so that it is perhaps the most fitting venue to cap off such an unforgettable season. We have seen epic runs from the likes of Thirion, Bruni and Atherton in the past as well as complete disasters for others like Gwin and Brosnan. Last year we crowned our World Champions here, and this year we will crown our World Cup Champions.

For the women it is a done deal as Rachel Atherton has already secured the title with her thus far perfect season. Will she take a victory lap or will she try to prove a point to make it 8 for 8. In the Juniors we have a battle on our hands between Finn Iles and Gaetan Vige, with Vige close enough to take the title if he wins and Iles finishes worse than 3rd. While Finn looks to be the clear favorite here, anything can happen. For the men, Aaron Gwin has a strong lead over Danny Hart but Danny has a lot of momentum on his side after winning the last two rounds, and Gwin has never put up a good result in Andorra so there may be a bit more drama in store than the points would suggest.

Behind the leaders, there are battles in all categories for the remaining spots, especially in the women's field where there are three riders all battling to claim the 2nd spot behind Atherton. In the men's the top three look pretty locked in, but only 50 points separate 5th from 10th with some big names in the hunt like Bruni, Vergier, Shaw, Thirion, and Fearon. While some rides in the lead might play it safe, the rest will be going for broke in both qualifying and finals. A fitting battle right down to the last runs on the season.

And finally we will say goodbye to one more rider this weekend, as the legendary Steve Peat takes the start for what will be his final Word Cup after a career spanning two decades. We can only assume there will be a party for the ages on Saturday night to see the off the king in style.

You are here.
You are here.

La Massana knows well it s still world cup season.
La Massana knows well it's still world cup season.

Wyn Masters getting the old vocal cords warmed up for the latest episode of Wyn TV.
Wyn Masters getting the old vocal cords warmed up for the latest episode of Wyn TV.

Fox had their work cut out for them this morning.
Fox had their work cut out for them this morning.
The sign of progress and a well tuned fork.
The sign of progress and a well tuned fork.

In the drivers seat the junior title is now only Finn s to lose. If he has the same type of run he has put down round after round he will leave Andorra the champ.
In the driver's seat, the junior title is now only Finn's to lose. If he has the same type of run he has put down round after round he will leave Andorra the champ.

Nikolas Nestoroff will be looking for nothing but the podium in the final junior battle of the season on arguably the wildest track.
Nikolas Nestoroff will be looking for nothing but the podium in the final junior battle of the season on arguably the wildest track.

Dave Garland was happy to report they ve got the suspension dialled to the point where they ve gotten away with running what is basically an XC rim on the Giant bikes this season.
Dave Garland was happy to report they've got the suspension dialled to the point where they've gotten away with running what is basically an XC rim on the Giant bikes this season.

A certain someone s tires ready to roll... Surely there s some kind of special bike to go with those. Hmmm...
A certain someone's tires ready to roll... Surely there's some kind of special bike to go with those. Hmmm...

Loic has a new helmet and we are not sure if it is a reference to the crashes and bad luck he s had this season or not. What s your guess
Loic has a new helmet and we are not sure if it is a reference to the crashes and bad luck he's had this season or not. What's your guess?

Remi Thirion gives the teams junior rider Gaetan Vige a lift to the start.
Remi Thirion gives the teams junior rider, Gaetan Vige a lift to the start.

J.T. pays attention to the details on this final round of the world cup season.
J.T. pays attention to the details on this final round of the world cup season.
Luca Shaw s bike getting top treatment from SRAM s finest.
Luca Shaw's bike getting top treatment from SRAM's finest.

Thirion stormed to victory back in 2013 and looked extra vicious in the mud here at Worlds. We cant wait to see what he unleashes this season.
Thirion stormed to victory back in 2013 and looked extra vicious in the mud here at Worlds. We can't wait to see what he unleashes this season.

Alex bringing the final touches like forks to the bike of Matt Walker at the Madison Saracen pit.
Alex bringing the final touches, like forks, to the bike of Matt Walker at the Madison Saracen pit.

 We ve got the best chance of survival if we work together. - Maximus Decimus Meridius and YT Mob
'We've got the best chance of survival if we work together.' - Maximus Decimus Meridius (and YT Mob)
Gotta hate those messy media types.
Gotta hate those messy media types.

Andrew Neethling does a little post track walk balancing act.
Andrew Neethling does a little pre track walk balancing act.

Manon Carpenter has the number two plate and has been strong in Andorra in the past but she will have a fight in Tahnee Seagrave and Tracey Hannah.
Manon Carpenter has the number two plate and has been strong in Andorra in the past, but she will have a fight in Tahnee Seagrave and Tracey Hannah.

Someones looking for some revenge after last year s World Champs run.
Someone's looking for some revenge after last year's World Champs run.

Gee and Taylor take stock of the start.
Gee and Taylor take stock of the start.

This way to the rowdiness.
This way to the rowdiness.

Inside this tap lies one of the most bad ass DH tracks of all time.
Inside this tape lies one of the most bad ass DH tracks of all time.

And away we go...
And away we go...

Lapses in concentration don t go unpunished even on a marathon track like Vallnord.
Lapses in concentration don't go unpunished even on a marathon track like Vallnord.

The start of a long hard run. This track should be viewed as a bench mark.
The start of a long hard run. This track should be viewed as a benchmark.

The start is fairly mellow but as soon as you drop in off this bridge things get rowdy in a hurry.
The start is fairly mellow but as soon as you drop in off this bridge things get rowdy in a hurry.

Tracey set two goals over the off season. To win a World Cup and to place 2nd in the overall. Both are very much a possibility this weekend.
Tracey set two goals over the offseason. To win a World Cup and to place 2nd in the overall. Both are very much a possibility this weekend.
Track Walk Downhill World Cup Finals Andorra
Brendan injured his knee in MSA, but is confident that he will be able to do well here in Andorra.

After the first steep bit of woods riders get a brief break as the traverse the ski hill via a series of large jumps.
After the first steep bit of woods riders get a brief break as the traverse the ski hill via a series of large jumps.

The track is beginning to show a lot of wear and tare in spots and many of the ruts are full of sharp loose rocks.
The track is beginning to show a lot of wear and tear in spots and many of the ruts are full of sharp loose rocks.

Atherton checks one of the first technical lines of the run. Rachel
Atherton checks one of the first technical lines of the run.

This jump may be small but the run in kills speed. Pull hard.
This jump may be small but the run in kills speed. Pull hard.

Well made jumps are a work of art from the side.
Well made jumps are a work of art from the side.

Tracey Hannah and the team one day away from launch.
Tracey Hannah and the team, one day away from launch.

The surface changes here drastically as riders loose elevation. In the middle it is like riding on marbles in some sections.
The surface changes here drastically as riders loose elevation. In the middle it is like riding on marbles in some sections.

under all of that nice dirt is some sharp and rough bedrock.
Under all of that nice dirt is some sharp and rough bedrock.

The views are not half bad either.
The views are not half bad either.

Track Walk Downhill World Cup Finals Andorra

Fresh berms of loose and dirty goodness.
Fresh berms of loose and dirty goodness.
A it of work has been put in to smooth out some of the more eroded bits of track.
A bit of work has been put into smooth out some of the more eroded bits of track.

Needles is looking forward to schralping some berms in the mid section.
Needles is looking forward to schralping some berms in the midsection.

Final bits of work were still being done to the track today.
Final bits of work were still being done to the track today.

This looks like a simple berm but that dirt is super dry and very loose. Expect the corners here to get blown up if we on t get any rain.
This looks like a simple berm but that dirt is super dry and very loose. Expect the corners here to get blown up if we don't get any rain.

A new and gnarly looking high speed hip to berm in the open section.
A new and gnarly looking, high speed, hip to berm in the open section.
High speed and big air. The mid point brings the speed.
High speed and big air. The midpoint brings the speed.

Main and inside lines full of ruts and rocks while the slower outside lines are clean and safe. It s going to be a bit of a puzzle this week as riders try to see what world best.
Main and inside lines full of ruts and rocks, while the slower outside lines are clean and safe. It's going to be a bit of a puzzle this week as riders try to see what world best.

Morgane Charre would love to finish on a high note this weekend. While her WC results have been so so we know she has it in her if she can lay down a run like the one that saw her win Crankworx in Les Gets back in June.
Morgane Charre would love to finish on a high note this weekend. While her WC results have been so so, we know she has it in her if she can lay down a run like the one that saw her win Crankworx in Les Gets back in June.

Loris wants to finish the year in the top 5 overall and he is currently only one point back in 6th.
Loris wants to finish the year in the top 5 overall and he is currently only one point back in 6th.

Mick Hannah was top 10 here at World Champs last year and is looking to carry that confidence and his momentum from Crankworx onto the podium.
Mick Hannah was top 10 here at World Champs last year and is looking to carry that confidence and his momentum from Crankworx onto the podium.

Plenty of roots on this steep Andorra track.
Plenty of roots on this steep Andorra track.

More gnar coming though as the track ages.
More gnar coming though as the track ages.

Yep it s not tarmac up there in the woods.
Yep, it's not tarmac up there in the woods.
Crazy steep as ever the course now has a couple of very fresh and wide modifications.
Crazy steep as ever, the course now has a couple of very fresh and wide modifications.

If you can t find a good line just pick a rut any rut.
If you can't find a good line just pick a rut, any rut.

It may have matting and chicken wire for grip but this bridge is plenty slick.
It may have matting and chicken wire for grip, but this bridge is plenty slick.

Bren Dog takes a photo of some stumps that need trimming on one of the fresh sections of the track. Once the soil is ridden off these little guys will be nasty.
Bren Dog takes a photo of some stumps that need trimming on one of the fresh sections of the track. Once the soil is ridden off, these little guys will be nasty.

Charlie Harrison has had plenty to smile about this season. The American young gun is beyond excited for this track.
Charlie Harrison has had plenty to smile about this season. The American young gun is beyond excited for this track.

The ruts and catch berms are rock solid in the lower woods.
The ruts and catch berms are rock solid in the lower woods.

Don t let the camera fool you. This is one of the steepest sections found on any WC track.
Don't let the camera fool you. This is one of the steepest sections found on any WC track.

 The next thing I knew I was pitched over like this thinking what the f k just happened Brosnan recalls last year.
"The next thing I knew I was pitched over like this thinking what the F just happened?" Brosnan recalls last year.

Taped wide the steep bottom woods have so many options. Which will work best is still anyone s guess.
Taped wide, the steep bottom woods have so many options. Which will work best is still anyone's guess.

Enter the loamy bobsled run.
Enter the loamy bobsled run.

Way steeper than it looks and with about 4 different line options.
Way steeper than it looks and with about 4 different line options.

The woods in Andorra really are something else.
The woods in Andorra really are something else.

It just keeps on going. Getting better and better at every turn.
It just keeps on going. Getting better and better at every turn.
Loris Vergier trying to put the brakes on while descending one of the steep chutes in the lower woods.
Loris Vergier trying to put the brakes on while descending one of the steep chutes in the lower woods.

One final chute and the finish is in sight.
One final chute and the finish is in sight.

The huge lumpy step-down on the way to the finish arena should have quite an audience if the past years are anything to go by.
The huge, lumpy step-down on the way to the finish arena should have quite an audience if the past years are anything to go by.

Just a few spacers being added to a lot of cockpits to deal with the steepness of the track here in Andorra.
Just a few spacers being added to a lot of cockpits to deal with the steepness of the track here in Andorra.

Suspension is going to get hammered this weekend on one of the steepest and gnarliest tracks on the circuit.
Suspension is going to get hammered this weekend on one of the steepest and gnarliest tracks on the circuit.

Home court advantage. Commencal Riding Addiction is ready to roll.
Home court advantage. Commencal Riding Addiction is ready to roll.

George Brannigan checks out the visibility on Pom Pon s new goggles.
George Brannigan checks out the visibility on Pom Pon's new goggles.
George Brannigan taped up and ready to give it a go.
George Brannigan taped up and ready to give it a go.

Something new for Troy from Specialized.
Something new for Troy from Specialized.

Team rumours number 173.
Team rumours number 173.

Gee hasn t had the best of luck this year with podiums but he may turn things around on this final round.
Gee hasn't had the best of luck this year with podiums, but he may turn things around on this final round.

Loic and Claudio embark on the scariest track preview of all time.
Loic and Claudio embark on the scariest track preview of all time.

Lets get ready to rumble. The final round is here.
Let's get ready to rumble. The final round is here.

Ready and waiting for the last big match of the season. Come on down
Ready and waiting for the last big match of the season. Come on down!

Track Walk Downhill World Cup Finals Andorra
Andorra views for days. Months even.


MENTIONS: @davetrump / @natedh9 / @mdelorme




44 Comments

  • 50 2
 PLEASE TELL ME CLAUDIO'S COURSE PREVIEW IS GOING TO BE ON A TANDEM BIKE WITH LOIC?!!??!
  • 3 0
 oh man
  • 3 0
 OH My Lord......FTS
  • 2 0
 sure sounds that way. That's gonna be a fun one to watch.
  • 2 0
 Its ashame they pulled out..
  • 1 0
 @dbhender: My thoughts exactly! Fudge to that!
  • 29 0
 There really needs to be more WCDH rounds
  • 16 1
 Like Fairclough said, it should be 15-20 rounds with just the top 30-40 riders.
  • 6 1
 And the old saying goes "moto guys get paid 10x more than DH guys"...maybe because they have 10x the races.
  • 2 0
 @stikmanglaspell: you got right they have, but DH guys have to work just like them, all year or almost that...
  • 23 1
 PEATY FOR THE WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 16 1
 tape job looks a little loose for beaumont
  • 14 1
 Come on Ratboy
  • 6 0
 Have anyone asked you 'How do you even login, bro?!' already?
  • 1 0
 @szusz: Brahahahahahaha!
  • 22 11
 I hope Danny isn't going to Atherton racing. Their tight-ass might rub off on him.
  • 4 3
 Second that.
  • 6 4
 @dtm1: I'm a Trek fan and I really would like to see Danny with Trek
  • 9 1
 Daaamn, Danny needs to join Minnaar and Ratboy on SC Syndicate. It just makes sense!
  • 3 0
 @cyclo-maniac: I think the rumor mill here prefers luca shaw going to the syndicate
  • 12 2
 I cant wait for Peter Sagan to beat evrybody!
  • 1 0
 Jean Claude Hilton has it all tied up
  • 1 0
 just a couple of months....
  • 6 0
 Thought they should have mentioned Monk-Dawg in the passing away this year too
  • 5 1
 Padded trees and then boobie trap stubs sticking out of the ground ! Somebody needs to get kicked right in the nuts for that stupidity!!!
  • 5 0
 Another great race coming up!
  • 4 0
 I am excited... for the course preview.
  • 3 0
 Yes! Please do the course preview on that tandem. I want to see that thing get air and hit the tech so badly now!
  • 6 1
 Go Aaron Gwin ????
  • 2 1
 Whoever proof read this article before publishing needs to go back to English class. It sucks to read so many errors and typos. Come'On Pinkbike!!!!
  • 3 0
 impressive photos. brings them woods to life
  • 1 0
 Is it just me or are all photo descriptions pretty f**ked up? All under the wrong pic!!
  • 2 0
 i feel like the pictures went overboard on black and white
  • 1 0
 This is gunna be one hell of a course preview!
  • 1 0
 Jumps up top had bigger lips on the landing than the takeoff.
  • 4 3
 Is Danny Hart joining Trek next season?
  • 4 4
 Yeah and the Athertons to Mondraker. It's all a big swap-meet again!
  • 5 8
 @jervis: as long as Danny isn't joining that smug crew. He seems too humble for them anyways
  • 2 2
 Those B&W pics are beautiful !
Finn Iles looks good, and Manon is really cute !
Nice work Smile
  • 1 1
 Manon looks good but i preferr Morgan Charre. Best pic of´r in a while.
  • 6 8
 Sometimes pinkbike content makes me wonder if besides our bums not being quite so mad, have we really evolved that far beyond monkeys?

Answers on a banana skin...
  • 1 0
 Fucking proper dh track.
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