Trackwalk Photo Epic - Meribel DH World Cup 7

Aug 21, 2014
by Nathan Hughes  


TARTIFLETTE DU VELO





To begin remove riding gloves. Wash oil-stained, calloused hands thoroughly and preheat air temperature to a late August balm of approximately 15-20°c. Bring a large end of season finale to the boil, making sure not to take an eye off the action. Prepare your switchbacks with loamy brown powder before adding sun-mottled roots and jagged rock nougat to the blend.

Next take a large helping of huck sauce and simmer in photogenic mountain locations for 4 minutes. Sprinkle in French seasoning and a dash of flavoring reminiscent of the Planet's finest downhill courses. Sieve the World's greatest riding talent down until just a few of the most succulent contenders remain in the running. Toss into an unmissable melting pot. Remove from oven Saturday evening 5pm GMT.

Bon Appetit.




Mnt Blanc
Saving the best for last. Meribel has set some pretty high first impressions. Stunning views good food and a proper Downhill track.
  Saving the best for last. Meribel has made some pretty high first impressions. Stunning views, classy food, and a finally a downhill track unanimously declared... 'proper'.

Welcome to the French Alps and the resort town of Meribel.
Gendarm
chopper
  Bonjour tout le monde. Welcome to the 3 Valleys in the French Alps.

Out of the points race Loic Bruni has no pressure here but you know he is looking to win on home soil.
  Out of the points race, Loic Bruni has no pressure here and you know he's looking to win on home soil. He raced to 2nd place against Remi Thirion here at the French Cup in 2012 as a junior, but in his own words, he's a 'big man now'...

bigquotesThe track is amazingly technical. The top is fast and open, the middle section is big roots and steep rocky sections with some difficult off-camber turns and the finish is very fast on the grass. I am crossing my fingers for good weather because it is going to be extremely hard if it's raining. I think here you will just have to get the flow and put some real speed on track to do well. I feel really good and I don't even think anymore about my flat tire in Windham. Also in France I feel a little bit at home so I want to do the best I can. It's a good pressure I think. People are gonna push the French riders pretty hard to go really fast so I am expecting a good race. The crowd is supposed to be great, if the weather is sunny it's gonna be insane! Loic Bruni - Lapierre Gravity Republic


way up
Backdrop of the start.
  Lake Placid... for now, but stormy waters ahead. The tempo of this race is set to be anything but calm.

Things start off fast and only get faster. Large chunks of slate line the start chute which quickly leads to a double then a road gap. Best to get things going right away.
  Things start off fast and only get faster. Large chunks of slate line the start chute which quickly leads to a double, then a road gap. Best to get things going right away.

Start channel
  There's some great craftsmanship exhibited on this French hillside, but it's dosed perfectly with a majority percentage of raw and untouched natural sections.

Not 100 meters out of the gate and the track gets right to business.
  Not 100 meters out of the gate and the track gets right to business in front of an incredible Alpine backdrop.

There are about 3 different options right off the start. Which will be the fastest only time will tell. Somewhere in that crowd of riders Sam Hill was cracking a big smile.
  There are about 3 different options with clearly big consequences for any mistakes before riders can even get into their runs. Which will be the fastest option, only time will tell. Somewhere in that crowd of riders, Sam Hill was cracking a big smile.

With a new and unseen venue track walk was a crowded one today.
  With a new and unseen venue, track walk was a crowded one today.

It s a long way down to the finish area in the village below. Some estimates put the track at arourd four minutes. Regardless of time this track has all the right stuff.
  It's a long way down to the finish area in the village below. Some estimates put the track at around four minutes. Regardless of time, this track has all the right stuff.

Brendan Fairclough can not wait to ride his bike here and we can t wait to see it. When Brendog is this psyched on a track good things happen.
  Brendan Fairclough has never been one to hold back in letting it be known what he thinks of a track and he officially can't wait to ride his bike here. And we can't wait to see it. When Brendog's this psyched on a track great things happen.

bigquotesGood God. We've got rocks, ruts, it's steep... I see some nice woods down there... Yep, it's the best one of the year - Brendan Fairclough - Gstaad Scott


Brendog scoping out the road gap just out of the start gate.
  There's even a quite chunky roadgap just out of the start gate.

By the time riders get to this tower they will be moving at a rapid clip. Pads ready just in case.
  By the time riders get to this tower, they will be moving at a rapid clip. Pads ready just in case to stop the deadly combo of impact and electrocution.

The track here in Meribel is beautiful.
  It's fair to say the track here in Meribel is a thing of beauty.

Gwinner
  There's a lot to look at, and some need to look harder than others if they want to make the 2014 crown their own. Aaron Gwin wants nothing more than to make it 3 overalls in 4 years.

meribel tape n ski
So much of the woods sections of the track are covered in this perfect layer of loam. Underneath lies a vast net work of roots from the pines that tower over head. This is a track that is going to evolve as the weekend wears on.
  So much of the woods sections of the track are covered in this perfect layer of loam. Underneath lies a vast network of roots from the pines that tower over head. This is a track that is going to evolve as the weekend wears on.

there isn t one line and there isn t one type of dirt here. Variety is the name of the game in Meribel.
Cray track floor
  There isn't one line, and there isn't one surface texture either. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and it's the name of the game here in France. This crazy area of moss and cut stumps is bang in the middle of the tape.

High speed technical. More rocks than you can shake a stick at. This track has so many amazing woods sections.
  High speed.... technical. More rocks than you can shake a stick at. This track has so many amazing woods sections.

Don t let the camera angle fool you. The woods here are STEEP.
  Don't let the camera angle fool you. The woods here are STEEP.

The woods just get better and better the further into them you go.
  And they just get better and better the further into them you go.

Deep g-outs and loose dirt. Those pads are there for a reason. Things are going to get rowdy especially if it rains.
  Deep g-outs, and loose dirt. Those pads are there for a reason. Things are going to get rowdy especially if it rains.

Sections like this look fairly fresh. After the first day of practice it will be interseting to see how much more gnar os exposed.
  Sections like this look fairly fresh, but after the first day of practice it will be interesting to see how much more gnar is exposed.

Same section from above and from below.
Giving France a little taste of the North Shore.
  Giving France a little taste of the North Shore with this significant chunk of slippery granite in the depths of the forest.

When been far away as long amp far as many of the Kiwis it s good to see little reminders of home now and again.
  When you've been so far away as long as many of the Kiwis, it's good to see little reminders of home now and again.

Tracey Hannah checks the grip on the roots about half way down.
  Tracey Hannah had a great time in Windham and will be certainly be looking to challenge the best of them this weekend as well.

This may be the only bit to rest on the whole track and even then it s going to be super fast.
  This may be the only bit to rest on the whole track, and even then it's going to be super fast.

Troy wood huck
  A nice feature down in the woods with optional rock kicker to the side and a tasteful rocky landing. Troy and EC discuss.


Sam Hill is all smiles so far not even halfway down the track. Steep wide rooty and a full on Sam Hill special here.
  Sam Hill fully stoked and not even halfway down the track. Steep, wide, rooty and a full on Sam Hill special here, and the man has pretty much nothing to lose for this race.

bigquotesI'm not really thinking about points, but I wish I was up there for the overall battle. There is a real slim chance to take it mathematically, but I'll just be trying to win and then see where we're at - Sam Hill - Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof


The final stretch of woods before the track heads back into the open ski trail. Mix Schladming Val Di Sole and Maribor together and you get Meribel.
  The final stretch of woods before the track heads back into the open ski trail. Mix Schladming, Val Di Sole, and Maribor together and you get Meribel.

Good to see Mick Hannah back in the game after seemingly long recovery from his crash in Fort William.
  Great to see Mick Hannah finally back from the shoulder injury he suffered at round 3 and looking to regain the form that so nearly got him the win at round 1.

Mick Hannah is finally back from shoulder surgery and looking to regain the form that earned him 2nd in round one.
  Quite a course for a comeback, but if he's on half the form the left us in, Mick will still be on for a superb result

Pops got some chops.
  Pops got some chops.

rock rucker
Brendan Fairclough points to the landing.
  Brendan points to the landing of the rock step-up at the start of the finishing fields.

No Monkeys
  Monkeys not permitted. Must be a UCI thing.

Troy silhouette
  Today Troy Brosnan sits sandwiched uncomfortably between Bryceland an Gwin, but after qualis he could already be on top if Josh has an off-day.

Good old wide taped open slope grass turns coming into the finish line. Can t wait to see how loose things get in here.
  Good old wide-taped, open slope, grass turns coming into the finish line. We can't wait to see how loose things get in here.

Hill amp Jones
  Hill and Jones strolling the as-yet unrutted grass super-turn, in sight of the finish.

bigquotesLooks awesome ay... best looking track so far this year. This is how they all should be I reckon. To win here I guess you have to be creative and find good lines, it's line-choice the whole way. Most tracks we've been going to you just walk down and you can tell what's coming up. Here you have to walk down and see what's further on and then walk back up again and figure out how to get into it - Sam Hill - Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof

Why so serious
  Why so serious? Rock slab mid-field section sums up the early emotions from trackwalk.

Long travel for many coming from Whistler meant lost luggage late deliveries and plenty of bikes to build.
  The long travel for many coming from Whistler meant lost luggage, late deliveries and plenty of bikes to build in a hurry.

Meribel
  Matti Lehikoinen sitting on the fence here, but still certain the Meribel course is awesome.

With a new track riders and mechanics work closely to get bikes set up for tomorrow s training.
  With a new track, riders and mechanics work closely to get bikes set up for tomorrow's training.

Loris Vergier is giving the new Lapierre a try his weekend while Sam and Loic stick with the bike they are familiar with. With just a few points between Loris and Luca Shaw the Jr. will be an exciting one to watch.
  Loris Vergier is giving the new Lapierre a try his weekend while Sam and Loic stick with the bike they are familiar with. With just a few points between Loris and Luca Shaw, the juniors will be an exciting one to watch to say the least.

Josh and Manon come into the race with the 1 plates but need to be on the top of their game if they wish to leave France with them.
  Josh and Manon come into the race with the #1 plates, but they'll need to be on the top of their game if they wish to leave France with them.

With a track this good it s not hard to love Meribel.
  With a track this good and a season finale this epic, it's not hard to fall in love with Meribel. Will it be Luca or Loris? Manon or Emmeline? Gwin, Brosnan or Bryceland. Mon dieu!


By Nathan Hughes


104 Comments

  • 174 9
 Hill for the win and Bryceland for the overall please.
  • 76 5
 brendog for top 5!
  • 14 1
 Yeah.. Hill for the win!
  • 9 1
 HILL Yeah! Make it 2 this year please.
  • 11 0
 I think Mike Jones with Hill's pointers will be right up there too
  • 20 0
 Its crazy how many riders have done well teamed up with Hill
  • 3 0
 Hill for the overall, it's still possible!! I hope for a crazy race and Hill taking the overall!
  • 4 1
 hill for the win troy for the overall.
  • 40 1
 The start is the "overflow" of the lac. Will be fun if it's raining a lot....... Big Grin
  • 4 0
 Haha droppin into a river
  • 49 12
 More photos of Tracey Hannah in short shorts please.
  • 19 10
 Creepy
  • 3 1
 it's nice to have a good look on her great socks :-)
  • 22 1
 Should be an epic race.
  • 14 0
 Oh, fuck yeah. It's about time, and all reports point to AWESOME. I'm praying they keep this track for next year!
  • 3 1
 Just checked, it's not on the world cup list for 2015.
  • 1 0
 what about worlds in 2016?
  • 1 0
 Not sure. I don't think UCI has announced anything past the world cup season for 2015.
  • 1 0
 lets hope they do this or put in champery & something canadien Wink
  • 14 0
 I am so so excited Sam Hill all the way
  • 12 1
 So stoked. The final on a reel dh track and nothing is decided. Lets hope the cams are setup right!
  • 11 1
 Matti Lehikoinen!!!! That's a name I haven't heard in a while. Will he be riding?
  • 14 0
 I think he is coaching the Finnish Juniors. I think he's pretty much stopped racing DH now, which is fair after all he's been through. But like you I'm glad he's still around, the man's a legend
  • 5 0
 i remember him racing. Feel old.
  • 2 0
 He is coaching the norwegian team!
  • 9 1
 I think Remi Thirion will be in the mix but the way Josh is riding it's hard to see past him here. He'll be gapping shit others haven't seen.
  • 8 0
 " Mix Schladming, Val Di Sole, and Maribor together and you get Meribel." I think tears of joy just came off my eyes
  • 1 0
 Was thinking along the same lines Wink
  • 5 0
 This is a DH track, so typical its not in the 2015 calendar, UCI don't like real DH courses! This will be epic and could spring some surprises, few will be used to a track like this again!
  • 5 0
 LOL! If UCI have a choice, maybe all 7 rounds at Windham.
  • 5 0
 I think the UCI would have every race on A-line if they got their way
  • 3 0
 UCI really prefer if we stick to the sidewalk
  • 7 1
 Did Meribel apply to host a world cup in 2015? I know everyone loves ragging on the UCI, but the locations have to put up the money and bid on world cups. Maybe Meribel figured they would see how 2014 goes before applying again in the future?
  • 4 0
 Good point @scissors888

It would be good to know some more about what tracks apply and get rejected, and what influence the UCI has on the track design etc. Maybe they do have 50 tracks lined up every year and they're rejecting a load of brilliant ones for boring ones, or maybe what we get is the best selection of geographically diverse tracks who have the ability and resources to put on a good event. Who knows.
  • 1 0
 They should let us vote!
  • 6 0
 Awesome pics and write up! I always look forward to these Photo Epic Trackwalk's. Sam Hill has this one in the bag!
  • 6 0
 Stoked to see how many non Australians are rooting for hill
  • 3 0
 Mate I was about to post the same thing. Hill is the peoples Champion.
  • 6 0
 RATBOY FTW
  • 5 0
 A part of me wants it to rain... is that bad?
  • 5 0
 Ok Hill lets do it.
  • 3 0
 I'm pretty sure that I could crank one out while looking at this beautiful track
  • 2 0
 Ratboy might win ...but I gotta root for GWIN! If not a win here, please at worlds!!!!! He deserves it...............with2 overalls, all he needs is a worlds jersey!
  • 1 0
 Chances are slim, but Loic for the win. ...That is of he does not crash out or have a mechanical that is Wink

Just like that he rides so smoothly and remains calm, makes me think of a younger Greg M
  • 1 0
 +1, it is time for him to grab a win. And I am big Minnaar fan too Big Grin
  • 3 0
 Hope Sam Hill could make it here....
  • 4 1
 You have to come in France to found real DH track !
  • 2 0
 Sam Hill. People's champ. Get it done for 90% of the downhill fans in the world!
  • 3 1
 Looks like frenchies know how to build good tracks. They should teach some others.....
  • 2 0
 Great looking tracks, and an amazing picture show. Thanks guys!
  • 1 0
 This looks great. If I were a rider I'd be praying for it stay dry, that slate is going to be horrible in the wet.
  • 1 0
 Ratboy to take it, Brosnan second, Hart in third.


Ragot to win, Atherton second, Carpenter third. Is Pompon riding?
  • 2 0
 Blenki FTW ! (And Sam win the overall!)
  • 1 0
 (I meant sam hill for the overall)
  • 1 0
 I wonder if it could be good training if you actually ran the course on a hardtail.
  • 2 0
 Goods pic's!
  • 2 1
 Sam Hill my boyy telling y'all he's got this!
  • 2 1
 Stay on your bike Sam Hill.. It's go time!!
  • 1 0
 I like the adidas brendog is sporting
  • 3 2
 Never seen a dog as happy as brendawg
  • 2 0
 Manon wins
  • 1 0
 I know someone who will be on the hunt... Sam Hill!!
  • 2 0
 A Real World Cup !!! Wink
  • 1 0
 Sam, then Troy, then Mick... Aussies on all of the top steps!
  • 1 0
 This track so has Sam Hill written all over it.
  • 2 0
 Val Di Meribelming
  • 1 0
 made my day Big Grin
  • 4 7
 Even though there's no pedaling on this course, I'll wager that Brendog still doesn't make the top 10. Seriously. Most over-rated RACER ever. Great style, but a horrible RACER. Too much of a suck to be successful. I hope you prove me wrong Brendog.
  • 2 0
 True. With that said it does not take anything away from him as a rider, incredible skills and style.
  • 1 0
 A horrible racer, currently in the top 20 of the overall? Not likely is it...
  • 2 0
 A top 20 WC rider is incredible good rider. I think there were really high expectations of what Brendog would achieve on the race scene a couple of years ago. He had some bad injuries, the race tracks has gone in a direction that really does not favor him, a lot of the racers gotten really serious about training etc.. But I don't think it hurt him as brand or his sponsor, few riders get as much appreciation for their riding as Brendog from the fans.
  • 2 0
 May not get the results, but that style!! I think he will get better and better
  • 2 1
 c'mon. I used to think the same about Bryceland. Look where he is now. Brendog has everything ahead of him.
  • 1 0
 anyone else fancying those sideburns more than the 2015 demo !?
  • 1 0
 They all say its a mans track but ratboy won timed trainings!!!
  • 1 0
 I wish this track was my local, looks great, really natural.
  • 1 0
 Ye Gods, what a race course! Gonna be the most RAD of the whole season!!
  • 1 0
 Lol figured I would hear from you, good call!
  • 1 0
 Btw your Devinci looks nice!
  • 1 0
 Haha thanks man, have fun shredding!
  • 1 0
 wooooooooo
  • 1 0
 Oh Mary Bell!
  • 3 2
 is this world champs?
  • 1 1
 just a question Smile
  • 2 0
 No, World Champs is in Hafjell this year.
  • 4 0
 it's the final round of the World Cup, World Champs are in 2 weeks in Hafjell, Norway.
  • 1 0
 Ratboy, GO ...>
  • 1 0
 C'mon Sam!!!
  • 1 1
 just a question
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