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women, there has been a shift of momentum as well as Myriam Nicole is out with an injury and her spot at the top has been replaced by Rachel Atherton.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.