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.
: @davetrump / @natedh9 / @mdelorme