Track Walk Photo Report: Andorra World Cup DH 2018

Jul 11, 2018
by Dave Trumpore  



After a week in the Italian corner of the Alps, the World Cup circus hit the road, travelling across France and up into the Pyrenees and the principality of Andorra, wedged right on the border of Spain. The track in Andorra has always been one of the best, with thrilling race action to match. As Andorra is also the home of Commencal, who is leading the series at the moment with Amaury Pierron, this round will be even more special. Upon inspection of the track, there is nothing new and noteworthy to report, and while there were some rumors of an entirely new woods section, it is not the case. At least not this year anyway. Of course, that is not meant to imply that the existing track is in need of replacing. In fact, quite to the contrary as it is still considered to be one of the best on the circuit. The reception it has received from riders over the past few days has been one of high praise once again. The track builders are still putting some last minute work in, mostly in the lower woods to freshen up a few corners and knock down few ruts that riders will not see in full until training tomorrow, and it's these little refinements that will perhaps differentiate it from years past.

As we head into the second half of the season and the final three races, we have quite the fight going on for not only the top spots, but all the podium positions in the overall championship. With Gwin out until at least Mont Sainte Anne with an injury, Amaury Pierron has a strong lead, but is still very much within the reach of the riders sitting behind. A crash or a mechanical or even an off day for Amaury and someone could swoop right in. There have never been any repeat winners in the elite men's race here in Andorra so there is no clear favorite based on history alone. Of course Amaury is on fire right now, but Laurie Greenland almost stole the show away from him last week, and previous winners here like Loic Bruni and Troy Brosnan will surely be in the mix as well.

For the elite women, there has been a shift of momentum as well as Myriam Nicole is out with an injury and her spot at the top has been replaced by Rachel Atherton. But it is Tahnee Seagrave who carries the winning momentum from Val di Sole and who, if she can repeat her form from a week ago, could easily leave Andorra in the leader's jersey. Only Rachel Atherton and Myriam Nicole have won here since the switch to the longer track in 2013, but with the depth of talent emerging in the women's ranks, there could certainly be a new name added to that list.

Riders hit the track for the first time tomorrow so be sure to tune back in all weekend for all the insights and action from Vallnord, Andorra.

La Massana all kinds of pretty.
La Massana: all kinds of pretty.

La Massana Andorra. Where the gondola to the start gate comes right out of town or if you are lucky right out of your hotel and over the pool.
La Massana, Andorra. Where the gondola to the start gate comes right out of town, or if you are lucky, right out of your hotel and over the pool.

Signature Vallnord shale ready to get smashed around in the open section.
Signature Vallnord shale ready to get smashed around in the open section.

Greg Minnaar is here but not racing instead opting to ensure his elbow is 100 ready before re-entering the ring.
Greg Minnaar is here but not racing, instead opting to ensure his elbow is 100% ready before re-entering the ring. He will, however, be doing practice runs to start the process of getting back up to speed and being between the tape on a race track once again

Happy days at MS Mondraker with Laurie Greenland now casually repping to number 2 plate in the series.
Happy days at MS Mondraker with Laurie Greenland now casually repping to number 2 plate in the series.

Marcelo Gutierrez prepped for a hike into the Andorran jungle.
Marcelo Gutierrez prepped for a hike into the Andorran jungle.

Bulldog keeping limber before the steepest trackwalk of the season.
Bulldog keeping limber before the steepest track walk of the season.

La Massana same same not too different at all for 2018.
La Massana, same same, not too different at all for 2018.

After the sprint out of the start straight riders come to this massive bridge over the main road. Once they get to the other side the track really starts to come alive.
After the sprint out of the start straight riders come to this massive bridge over the main road. Once they get to the other side the track really starts to come alive.

Sharp rocks hidden everywhere just off the main line will be slicing up more than a few tires tis weekend.
Sharp rocks hidden everywhere just off the main line will be slicing up more than a few tires this weekend.

The start in andorra is rather mellow but once you drop off the main bridge it s time to hold on to your hat.
The start in Andorra is rather mellow, but once you drop off the main bridge it's time to hold on to your hat.

Though not as excessive as last week in Val di Sole there are still plenty of slick roots to catch riders out in Andorra.
Though not as excessive as last week in Val di Sole, there are still plenty of slick roots to catch riders out in Andorra.

Two big storms the past two afternoons have left a few sections quite muddy but for the most part the track here in Andorra dries and drains extremely well. Just a little sun is all it takes to turn in back to her dirt in a matter of hours.
Two big storms the past two afternoons have left a few sections quite muddy, but for the most part the track here in Andorra dries and drains extremely well. Just a little sun is all it takes to turn it back to hero dirt in a matter of hours.

The two riders inspection the track should give a sense of scale as to how big some of these berms really are.
The two riders inspecting the track should give a sense of scale as to how big some of these berms really are.

Landing in the sweet spot on the backside of this jump gives riders that little big of extra speed needed to make time across one of the only flat sections of track.
Landing in the sweet spot on the backside of this jump gives riders that little bit of extra speed needed to make time across one of the only flat sections of track.

Connor Fearon walking the walk in a rare traffic-free moment.
Connor Fearon walking the walk in a rare traffic-free moment.

Mille Johnset already tackling obstacles at race speed.
Mille Johnset already tackling obstacles at race speed.

Gee Atherton still mad after his savage crash at Worlds 2015 from tagging a tree stump.
Gee Atherton still mad after his savage crash at Worlds in 2015 from tagging a tree stump.

Dirt Sculpting.
Dirt Sculpting.

Plenty of tire-tearing dragon s teeth to be found on this hillside.
Plenty of tire-tearing dragon's teeth to be found on this hillside.

From afar the open bits look smooth but when you get a little closer you ll see they are peppered pull of loose rocks. come race day it will be rough and full of holes and ruts.
From afar the open bits look smooth, but when you get a little closer you'll see they are peppered full of loose rocks. Come race day, it will be rough and full of holes and ruts.

Berms and jumps with a view mid track.
Berms and jumps with a view mid-track.

Out of the woods and into the final open section where riders can relax before plunging into the steep woods.
Out of the woods and into the final open section where riders can relax before plunging into the steep woods.

Steep fast loose berms one after the other. Ir may look easy and smooth now but this section gets wild once riders start tearing into the ground.
Steep, fast, loose berms one after the other. It may look easy and smooth now but this section gets wild once riders start tearing into the ground.

In between the berms and jumps are plenty of sharp rocks as the track has now aged to the point that there is little dirt left in some sections and only the bedrock.
In between the berms and jumps are plenty of sharp rocks as the track has now aged to the point that there is little dirt left in some sections, just bedrock.

Matt Walker and Max Hartenstern figure out the final open section before the forest.
Matt Walker and Max Hartenstern figure out the final open section before the forest.

Laurie Greenland and Charlie Hatton enter one of many super eroded steep turns.
Laurie Greenland and Charlie Hatton enter one of many super eroded steep turns.

The man of the moment Amaury Pierron. With three wins in a row under his belt right now he really doesn t have anything to prove this weekend. But with his sponsor Commencal s headquarters right here in town and the entire company and friend network in attendance any thing but a win on this track will be a disappointment for him.
The man of the moment, Amaury Pierron. With three wins in a row under his belt right now he really doesn't have anything to prove this weekend. But with his sponsor Commencal's headquarters right here in town and the entire company and friend network in attendance, anything but a win on this track will be a disappointment for him.

Jack Moir at the scene of the crime from last year where he suffered a massive eject in his race run.
Jack Moir at the scene of the crime from last year where he suffered a massive eject in his race run.

Chicken wire really doesn t mean grip on this extra greasy boardwalk unfortunately.
Chicken wire really doesn't mean grip on this extra greasy boardwalk unfortunately.

The super steep bridge into never-ending steepness.
The super steep bridge into never-ending steepness.

Loic Bruni loves the track here in Andorra . He was on the podium last year and won his first World Champs title here in 2015. He knows after last weeks split times that he is on pace to win right now and this might just be his track to do it.
Loic Bruni loves the track here in Andorra. He was on the podium last year, and won his first World Champs title here in 2015. He knows after last weeks split times that he is on pace to win right now and this might just be his track to do it.

This track is just that said no rider ever.
This track is just that, said no rider ever.

Choose a rut any rut.
Choose a rut, any rut.

Some of the monster ruts are getting knocked down to freshen up a few of the steeper chutes and corners and to open up more line options.
Some of the monster ruts are getting knocked down to freshen up a few of the steeper chutes and corners, and to open up more line options.

This steep corkscrew bit of track is always slippery and tricky with a tight corner of the way in and another on the way out.
This steep corkscrew bit of track is always slippery and tricky with a tight corner of the way in and another on the way out.

It may not always look it in photos but the bottom of the track in Andorra is the steepest on the World Cup circuit.
It may not always look it in photos but the bottom of the track in Andorra is the steepest on the World Cup circuit.

Danny Harts mechanic Dave Garland walks the tracks as well so he has a good idea of which sections any may be referring to when he comes back to the pits for setup changes.
Danny Hart's mechanic, Dave Garland, walks the tracks as well so he has a good idea of which sections Danny may be referring to when he comes back to the pits for setup changes.

Once again the gnarly chute above the finish has been rerouted for the second year in a row. If you recall last years race runs the catch berm at the bottom nearly ended Danny Hart s 3rd place run.
Once again the gnarly chute above the finish has been rerouted for the second year in a row. If you recall last years race runs, the catch berm at the bottom nearly ended Danny Hart's 3rd place run.

Yes trackwalk involves walking but also pointing. Lots of pointing.
Yes track walk involves walking, but also pointing. Lots of pointing.

Remember Remi Thirion absolutely destroying this crazy chute section in the mud
Remember Remi Thirion absolutely destroying this crazy chute section in the mud?

A last strip of dirt before riders get spat out into the finishing field.
A last strip of dirt before riders get spat out into the finishing field.

One of the only changes to the course - some old school grassy switch backs to keep riders on their toes.
One of the only changes to the course - some old school grassy switchbacks to keep riders on their toes.

Troy Brosnan Mark Wallace Kye amp Sian A Hern all having a look at the final to nearly flat and the finish line corner. Rumor has it the corners just above this will be tightened up a bit to slow riders down a bit so they can actually stay on the sloped landing.
Troy Brosnan, Mark Wallace, Kye & Sian A'Hern all having a look at the final to nearly flat and the finish line corner. Rumor has it the corners just above this will be tightened up a bit to slow riders down a bit so they can actually stay on the sloped landing.

The last turn looks like more of a wall ride, but riders will surely appreciate the steepness when they hit it at warp speed.

With their global headquarters a kilometer up the road it doesn t get any closer to home than this for Commencal. And once again they have pulled out all the stops with their restaurant bar and party SPOT right across from the finish line.
With their global headquarters a kilometer up the road, it doesn't get any closer to home than this for Commencal. And once again they have pulled out all the stops with their restaurant, bar and party SPOT right across from the finish line.

Just a few of Commencal s triumph s from this years WC season are on display inside. Unfortunately this is also the closest we will get to a photo of Myriam Nicole this week as she is still hope recovering from her back injury in Val di Sole.
Just a few of Commencal's triumphs from this years WC season are on display inside. Unfortunately, this is also the closest we will get to a photo of Myriam Nicole this week as she is still recovering from her back injury in Val di Sole.

Fresh podium-ite Thomas Estaque s bike coming together at the Commencal 100 pit.
Fresh podium-ite, Thomas Estaque's bike coming together at the Commencal 100% pit.

Magura MT7s ready to go on the Cube Global squad race bikes.
Magura MT7s ready to go on the Cube Global squad race bikes.

Rain storms have been rolling in over the mountains late in the afternoon since arriving.
Rainstorms have been rolling in over the mountains late in the afternoon since arriving. Let's hope any moisture that does fall comes in the overnight hours and not while riders are on track. Because if the previous two days' storms have been any indication, it won't be pretty when the deluge of rainwater comes down the mountain.


Must Read This Week

42 Comments

  • + 75
 Gee's been mad for a lot longer than just 2015
  • + 41
 Mad fast you mean? Gee's been standing on the top of the podium since the turn of the millennium, now he's sharing a track with kids who weren't even born when he was winning national titles. he's been there supporting his sister through her carrier. Gee has had a big part to play in making the sport what it is today. Show some respect..
www.pinkbike.com/news/stepping-out-of-the-pain-with-gee-atherton-2016.html
  • - 6
flag ibis09 (Jul 11, 2018 at 16:48) (Below Threshold)
 What happened to Gee? You don't even see his race runs anymore.
  • + 4
 @ibis09: think just some injuries? Only been a few seasons since he was on top I think? Dno
  • + 12
 @nvranka: True, he's been injured and hasn't completed a full season injury free for three years now - It must eat at him and play on the mind - which is always worse than the injury to get over. I fpr one would love to see him be a contender again.
  • + 10
 @TobiasHandcock: I just wanna know where your name.....came from
  • + 7
 @neimbc: same - Gee is rad, just comes off the wrong way to some it seems...I like him
  • + 3
 @jollyjared: going from that pic gee's feet must be made from steel
  • + 1
 @TobiasHandcock: Triggered much? I can appreciate his work ethic, riding, and support for his family while also still commenting on him looking like lord bummer more each year. Gee up till his commencal time was awesome, especially rampage.
  • + 20
 These photo articles are always awesome.
  • + 11
 I am getting a dark undertone from Rachel, I mean who points with that finger, who?!
  • + 4
 She's not here to f*ck spiders. She's here to win Smile
  • + 3
 "Rumor has it the corners just above this will be tightened up a bit to slow riders down a bit so they can actually stay on the sloped landing."

Yeh I'd say the picture just above this showing the switchbacks proves its not a rumor........
  • + 5
 Not quite ;-) @scott-townes

The picture above is of the current layout seen during track walk. That layout will be changing and tightened up even more as riders voiced their concern for how it was taped. The UCI sent a communication after track walk saying it would be altered.
  • + 2
 @davetrumpore: Riders have been sending that drop to flat for too long. Good move. And there's always room for more grassy off camber turns!
  • + 6
 Gee Atherton missed his calling as a male model. What a fucking stud
  • + 5
 What an epic place to live and ride, Uber jealous.
  • + 4
 With ski Lyfts, too.
  • - 2
 @endlessblockades: You a new jack ski lifts open up mountain terrain for skiing, snowboarding and mtbiatching.
  • + 4
 Steeper than it looks
  • + 10
 It looks pretty fucking steep.
  • + 3
 Love these Pinkbike......keep up the great work!
  • + 3
 Why doesn’t Loic trim his zip tie? #untrimmed #letitallhangout
  • + 2
 stoked! this must be an amazing local track to have if you live in the area.
  • + 2
 it's closed all year long to keep it fresh for worldcup
  • + 3
 That's Cedrics Bar !! Or was ???!
  • + 2
 Man, no wonder Hatton is looking apprehensive...Greenlands right leg is about to mutate!
  • + 3
 That shale is brutal, should make for a good race! I CANT WAIT!!!!!!!!
  • + 6
 Reminds me a little of Platty, God I love shale! Gonna be gooder this weekend.
  • + 3
 @MikeGruhler: #Plattekill4life
  • + 4
 wow, andorra is gorgeous
  • + 0
 cant believe Greenland took his brand new pair of trainers on the track walk just to scuff them up on the shale. These factory riders are swimming in free gear it seems
  • + 3
 stay on yur bike danny!
  • + 1
 Great to see the "No fun at all" t-shirt. Classic Swedish punk/rock band.
  • + 1
 jaw dropping trail pics
  • + 1
 clean your sensor mate!
  • + 3
 I'm sure Ross appreciates your feedback ;-) but ditty sensors happen
  • + 1
 You've got a better eye than me. I even went through them looking for specs and got nothing. Photo nerds notice. I get it.
  • + 1
 @Remmn: Clean your screen mate! Wink Razz
  • + 2
 @davetrumpore: Any idea how to view these images in one window? I keep having to scroll the page to see the full image. Or is this how you guys want it? Viewing full screen on an ultrawide display I end up seeing about 50% of the height of the image, and 100% of the width.
  • + 1
 @blast-off: dont set the browser full screen, imgs auto-set per width

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