Track Walk - Val di Sole DH World Champs 2016

Sep 8, 2016
by Dave Trumpore  




This is it, the final race of the 2016 season, and the one that everyone dreams of winning above all others. This is World Championships. The one-day race where riders put it all on the line to take the coveted rainbow jersey, the glory and, of course, the bragging rights that come with being the best of the best. The unique format (it's the season ender for just about all in attendance and its separate from any points series) lends a different kind of pressure, and has offered up some of the most memorable moments our sport has ever seen. It's a race where we have witnessed dominant seasons end in failure, the run of a lifetime go up in flames just meters from the finish line, or an underdog carve out a name for themselves after rolling the dice and coming up huge. In a word, World Champs is special. No other event on the calendar can even compare.

While we have seen a variety of venues over the years, some good and some bad, this week we are treated to one that is simply legendary. Val di Sole has carved a name for itself as one of the most demanding tracks in recent memory and one that has routinely been the sight of some epic race runs. There was Aaron Gwin's win by nearly 8 seconds in 2011. Or, even more famously, Sam Hill's last corner tragedy of 2008, which was coincidentally the last time World Champs was held on these slopes.

Nestled high in the peaks of Italy's pristine valley of the Sun, this week is going to be one for the record books.

Well done Italy
Well done, Italy

While there might be glaciers on the peaks above the track it is nothing but sun baked dust down low right now. With little to no rain in the forecast all week things are going to get blown out in a hurry.
While there might be glaciers on the peaks above the track, right now it is nothing but sun-baked dust down low. With little to no rain in the forecast all week, things are going to get blown out in a hurry.

Old towns and narrow mountains roads lead the way through Val di Sole to the 2016 World Championships.
Old towns and narrow, mountain roads lead the way through Val di Sole to the 2016 World Championships.

Once again we find ourselves amongst some truly giant mountains.
Once again we find ourselves amongst some truly giant mountains.

The hill on which we will be racing this weekend is just but a fraction of the terrain accessible in the Val di Sole region.
The hill on which we will be racing this weekend is but a fraction of the terrain accessible in the Val di Sole region.

A reminder that this region wasn t always a playgroup for bikes and skis. During WWI the Tonale Pass that runs through Val di Sole marked the border with Austria-Hungary and was heavily fortified on both sides.
A reminder that this region wasn't always a playgroup for bikes and skis. During WWI the Tonale Pass that runs through Val di Sole marked the border with Austria-Hungary and was heavily fortified on both sides.

Val Di Sole. Thanks for being awesome.
Val Di Sole. Thanks for being awesome.

The bike builds started early this morning.
The bike builds started early this morning.

Dougie Fresh putting the final fresh touches onto Josh Bryceland s wheel set.
Dougie Fresh putting the final fresh touches on Josh Bryceland's wheel set.

John Hall gets to work building this beauty for Aaron Gwin
John Hall gets to work building this beauty for Aaron Gwin,

Danny Hart is quietly confident this week knowing he is on a hot streak coming into one of his favorite tracks on the circuit.
Danny Hart is quietly confident this week, knowing he is on a hot streak coming into one of his favorite tracks on the circuit.

The Pivot Crew heads out on the earliest track walk of the year.
The Pivot Crew heads out on the earliest track walk of the year.

Welcome to the Italian woods pretty scenic is you have time to look around on your descent.
Welcome to the Italian woods; pretty scenic if you have time to look around on your descent.

The road gap at the top of the course is small but a nice warm up for the brutality to follow.
The road gap at the top of the course is small but a nice warm up for the brutality to follow.

Right out of the gate things get gnarly.
Right out of the gate things get gnarly.

Anaconda sized roots to claim a front wheel.
Anaconda-sized roots are only too happy to claim a front wheel.

Riders started walking at 10 to get a read of the track.
Riders started walking at 10 to get a read on the track.

After an amazing Vallnord result Alex Fayolle could be about to do it again on the track he managed 10th place on at the end of last season.
After an amazing Vallnord result, Alex Fayolle may be poised to do it again on the track he managed 10th place on at the end of last season.

There are no obvious good lines anywhere here. It s a group effort with the WC veterans helping the new generation figure out where to go.
There are no obvious "good lines" anywhere here. It's a group effort with the WC veterans helping the new generation figure out where to go.

Danny Hart dust demonstration - it s about as deep and dry as it comes here in VDS.
Danny Hart dust demonstration - it's about as deep and dry as it comes here in VDS.

The Swiss national team start to get an understanding of what they re up against.
The Swiss national team start to get an understanding of what they're up against.

The course returns to a path from years gone by - savage one - and is now decorated with plaques dedicated to past winners.
The course returns to a path from years gone by - savage one - and is now decorated with plaques dedicated to past winners.

Davide has the medias back but said he could do nothing about the insects.
Davide has the media's back, but said he could do nothing about the insects.

Ed Masters throws a little pre practice style.
Ed Masters throws a little pre-practice style.

Land mines everywhere hidden under the dust.
Land mines everywhere hidden under the dust.

Up top every corner s entrance and exit are tittered with roots crossing the trail in all directions.
Up top, every corner's entrance and exit are littered with roots crossing the trail in all directions.

Rachel Stops to take a gander at her likeness trackside.
Rachel stops to take a gander at her likeness trackside.

It s going to be fabulous back lit dust again and we aren t complaining. This dirt is gold.
It's going to be fabulous back lit dust again and we aren't complaining. This dirt is gold.

One of the tame sections of the track where the riders will get a break.
One of the "tame" sections of the track where the riders will get a "break."

Val Di Sole the only track on which riders could consider this little patch a smooth section .
Val Di Sole, the only track on which riders could consider this little patch a 'smooth section'.

There s a few countries who will no doubt have a strong showing here at worlds but none so strong as team GB. Williamson and Brayton proud to be a part of the crew.
There are a few countries who willl, no doubt, have a strong showing here at worlds, but none so strong as team GB. Williamson and Brayton proud to be a part of the crew.

Gone are the sketchy board walk berms of the 2015 course. This year we have just one short straight bridge to help riders across a waterlogged area.
Gone are the sketchy boardwalk berms of the 2015 course. This year we have just one short, straight bridge to help riders across a waterlogged area.

Just when rider s need a break the track tips and gets steeper for the final third.
Just when riders need a break, the track tips and gets steeper for the final third.

One plummeting section after another.
One plummeting section after another.

Tahnee Seagrave is unfortunately still suffering with badly bruised or broken ribs from Vallnord but is ready to ride through the pain. Riding is preferable to sneezing at this point she assures us...
Tahnee Seagrave is, unfortunately, still suffering with badly bruised or broken ribs from Vallnord, but is ready to ride through the pain. Riding is preferable to sneezing at this point, she assures us...

At about the midpoint the already steep track takes a turn downward and get even steeper.
At about the midpoint, the already-steep track takes a turn downward and gets... even steeper.

Steep and through the trees the top section of Val di Sole is truly one of a kind.
Steep and through the trees, the top section of Val di Sole is truly one of a kind.

Manon tries to see the lines through the massive crowd of riders crammed into the track today.
Manon tries to see the lines through the massive crowd of riders crammed into the track today.

Probably the hardest thing besides the track itself is seeing where one is going The patchy light and dark shadows hide so many of the rocks roots and holes that riders really can t even see what they are running into half the time.
Probably the hardest thing (besides the track itself) is seeing where you are going, The patchy light and dark shadows hide so many of the rocks, roots, and holes that riders really can't even see what they are running into half the time.

Val di Sole in a nutshell. Gentle it is not.
Val di Sole in a nutshell. Gentle it is not.

Australia s Tracy and Mick or Britain s Gee and Rachel - who will triumph as star siblings with national pride on the line
Australia's Tracy and Mick or Britain's Gee and Rachel? Who will triumph as star siblings with national pride on the line?

Laurie Greenland s incredible rookie year would look good with a massive result at the end of it...
Laurie Greenland's incredible rookie year would look good with a massive result at the end of it...

About the only moment riders will have to chill on this savage special of a course.
About the only moment riders will have to chill on this savage special of a course.

Some call it technical others call it gnar while both consider it scary.
Some call it 'technical', others call it 'gnar', but everyone considers it scary.

Someone is handy with the tape. And a monkey too. This one is at least 12 feet up the tree.
Someone is handy with the tape. And a monkey too. This one is at least 12 feet up the tree.

That huge booter half way down that was make brake or break for the riders last year.
That huge booter half way down that was make, brake or break for the riders last year.

Many a rider coming to Val di Sole for the first time had high hopes of sending the big natural step-down they had seen in videos. However once seeing it in person and its sketchy run up most quickly began to change their tune.
Many a rider coming to Val di Sole for the first time has high hopes of sending the big natural step-down they've seen in videos. However, once they see it and its sketchy run-up in person, most quickly change their tune.

By this point in your race run your arms literally feel like they are going to fall off.
By this point in your race run, your arms literally feel like they are going to fall off.

The course never lets up. It just serves up more and more gnar.
The course never lets up. It just serves up more and more gnar.

Manon has done well here before an is the only racer in the field to have been able to beat Rachel Atherton over the past few years.
Manon has done well here before and is the only racer in the field to have been able to beat Rachel Atherton in recent years.

Team Germany scope the final sender and visualise their landing zone.
The members of Teams Germany and Portugal scope the final sender and visualise their landing zone.

Who will send it the furthest off the big ski jump coming out of the woods In years past we have seen many a riders land well clear of the 20 meter mark.
Who will send it farthest off the big ski jump coming out of the woods? In years past, we have seen many a rider land well clear of the 20-meter mark.

The final sender remains unchanged from many years gone by.
The final sender remains unchanged from many years gone by.

The seat every riders wants to take at the end of his or her run.
The seat every rider wants to take at the end of his or her run.

It s wild and it s beautiful here in northern Italy.
It's wild and it's beautiful here in northern Italy.

Finn Iles got quite the surprise today from his mechanic in the form of his first ever custom painted World Champs bike.
Finn Iles got quite the surprise today from his mechanic in the form of his first-ever, custom-painted World Champs bike.

Rachel reckons she might lift off if she pins her jersey like this.
Rachel reckons she might lift off if she pins her jersey like this.

Loic s 1 plate to distinguish him as the current and defending World Champion.
Loic's #1 plate to distinguish him as the current and defending World Champion.

Painted in the colors of France and dropped in accents of gold Loic Bruni s is prepped for battle.
Painted in the colors of France and dropped in accents of gold, Loic Bruni's is prepped for battle.

So far the valley of the Sun had been living up to it s name quite well.
So far, the valley of the Sun had been living up to its name.




MENTIONS: @davetrump / @natedh9




95 Comments

  • + 148
 Fantastic photos of the scenery as well, great to see them! Absolutely stunning!
  • + 19
 spot on. the photos are truly excellent. well done
  • + 10
 Those photos get me pumped, though i'd be cool just riding the "tame" section all day. The hype is so real!
  • + 7
 brilliant pics........
  • + 17
 This is truly a World Champion's track. By far the most gnarly track I have ever seen, and the ultimate test of a downhill rider. It is literally scary.
  • + 5
 Photos show the true track scenery and talent of the photographers. I'm excited to see everyone pimped bikes for this race.
  • + 3
 The scenery is as beautiful as the custom painted specialized demo's.
  • + 4
 I just want to ride down the track once.
  • + 5
 @scotttherider: we rode it last week for the worlds master, and let me tell you it is even better than what you think if you like gnarly and steep and did I mention GNARLY ???
  • + 3
 @samwell: love the pros only dh race courses. I've been blessed to travel across the US and hit trails all across this country from threshold at highland to bullit at mammoth to Whistler. Can't wait to end up next to a wc course.
  • + 1
 Hi Sam !
Finally loved this track, but what about this
m.pinkbike.com/photo/13915247
  • + 1
 @samwell:
Hi Sam, not used to those PB threads ;-)
  • + 86
 Who cares about any of this right now! Paul Bas is riding bikes again!!!! And no I don't have some thing with Vital... This is just 10x bigger news!!!!

m.vitalmtb.com/news/news/Paul-Basagoitia-Rides-Again,1004
  • + 8
 Thats just the best news.
  • + 21
 I agree on how awesome this is, but that shouldn't change the excitement of upcoming worlds
  • + 3
 f*ck yes!!!! Way to whoop some ass, Paul!!!! Big Grin
  • + 23
 This is so nasty, I cant wait too see the battle ..So many riders could take it: Danny ? Aaron ? Greg ?? Troy ??? Connor ????
  • + 24
 Loic?!
  • + 18
 Gas to Flat?
  • + 5
 Cat?
  • + 6
 Bear ?
  • + 6
 Bulldog?
  • + 8
 Geese Slice?
  • + 5
 A Unicorn?
  • + 8
 Kestrel?
  • + 9
 Gruffalo?
  • + 6
 Salmon
  • + 3
 Codyman420?
  • + 9
 Rumpelstiltskin
  • + 5
 ManBearPig?
  • + 3
 Tyler Durden??
  • + 1
 Liger?
  • + 2
 Trump
  • + 22
 I'm excited, but I wish Sam Hill was there, maybe the thought of redemption would have fired him up for some EWSesque results.
  • + 12
 No Peaty either, it's a sad time, but I guess the young guns are coming through and the older guys have to take a back seat eventually. Just sad to see the icons of the sport taking a step back.
  • + 10
 Agree World Champs without Sam sucks!!!! Therefore I'm rooting for Minnaar!!! Crush it dude!!!
  • + 5
 @sam264: Remember, Sam and Peaty were nobodies at one point, and they became legends. Now its the new guys turns to become legends. Like Bruce Wayne, or some such.
  • + 4
 something like first time in 15 years there is no Sam and Peaty
  • + 3
 All the way down the pics i was thinking "cant wait to see Hill pick a line through that".... then i remembered.
  • + 1
 @vroomvroompartystarter: Oh yeah absolutely man, it's just crazy to see the guys that were at the top when I was getting into the sport now retiring. Makes you wonder which of the now young-guns will still be around in 10-15 years time!
  • + 12
 I wonder how many times I would go OTB on this track, a proper track for sure!!!
  • + 11
 you would go OTB exactly 1 time, then quit and take the chicken line to the nearest pizzeria. At least that would be my plan.
  • + 8
 First As World Cup racing fan I would love to see everyone get there best run with zero mistakes and the best rider of the day take the win so there's no if onlys being said. The womens race I would like to see rachel sweep the season cause it may never be done again male or female. The men's race I would like to see Gwin take the win he needs this win like Danny needed his first win. Reminds me of Steve the wins the overalls but one win was missing. Be fitting for Gwin to take the win on 9-11! But one things for sure were in for one heck of a race
  • + 9
 Come on Manon! Hoping Aaron gets those rainbow stripes too!
  • + 6
 SAM HILL should have got an opening run plate! As Remy Absalon did in la Bresse some years ago... Val di Soley owns his name to SH! His wild run will be hitting youtube all universe for the end of times....
  • + 1
 agree. Some guys should just get to go if they want. Hill, Peaty, etc.
  • + 5
 I always believe the more brutal a track, the higher chance that a little bloke like Hart or Brosnan will storm home with a win. Not basing that on ANY kind of science....Just a thought Smile
  • + 4
 Shame no mention of the other world champs in Val di Sole. Send it boys. Would love Manon to take it, just to give Rachel something to think about.
  • + 6
 A real world champs track. Will be a brutal race!
  • + 6
 Where can we watch this week's action?
  • + 5
 Redbull.tv on sunday here's the link www.redbull.tv/live/AP-1KRDTX1YN2111/uci-mtb-world-championship cheers
  • + 10
 @RedBurn: so basically nowhere
  • + 6
 @Tmackstab: Get a media box like a Roku. I've never had a problem watching it on mine.
  • + 2
 Do riders stay in their regular team tents this weekend? Or are they in "country team" tents with their mechs? Looks from the pics they're in their usual tents but I was curious
  • + 4
 Let's just hope that orange forks don't go on Gwin's bike, or Rachel's for that matter
  • + 8
 IMO those orange forks look terrible on just about any bike.
  • + 6
 I don't mind them on Rachels black bike as it doesn't clash too bad and in fact goes along with the 'strictly performance' aethestic, but for the love of God please don't put them on Gwins painstakingly clean cut bike.
  • + 1
 What about 4cross? Thanks Pinkbike for not giving a shit about other disciplines and sorry there's no money to find there. BTW, there's a live feed at UCI youtube channel - friday 20:45 Italian time.
  • + 3
 Awesome pics and a great feature, I honestly didn't know Andy Samberg knew Tracey Hannah.
  • + 3
 Track Walk article photos never disappoint!
  • + 1
 What will happen if Gaetan Vige wins since he won't be junior next year ? He won't be able to wear the UCI rainbow shirt in race ?
  • + 1
 Definitely a WC course, brutal, steep and long.... just hoping for good coverage, where would you place your cameras for the best action ?
  • + 3
 So... it looks like there are some roots.
  • + 2
 Now this is a proper track. If only they could get schladming back into the cirtcuirt
  • + 1
 Now I know dirt can look so beautiful.... good job Dave !! I need to practice my photography skill, many dirt around the house.
  • + 2
 Gee is being replaced by Kerr. So he will have a chance this time around.
  • + 1
 With a brutal course like that anyone could take that top spot. Can't wait for Sunday!
  • + 2
 Uooow, I'm mad to see this race, will be amazing!!
  • + 3
 That looks hard
  • + 2
 This track is the best one its gonna be an amazing race
  • + 2
 Trek got a Shimano RICE Support? Those Asians…
  • + 1
 Great pic of Finn and his mechanic
  • + 1
 Give them a taste of kiwi!!!
  • + 0
 Take note course designers from Pietermaritzburg - this is what a WC level athlete and bike are capable of.
  • + 1
 Ridiculous, I personally traced the 2 of them and loved them both. In a different way obviously, but they are great tracks and fun to ride.
  • + 1
 Sorry, not traced but raced ;-))
  • + 1
 lovin it.........
  • + 1
 Be there any roots?
  • - 1
 Rachel having fun holding the long black snake
  • + 0
 HUCK FEST !!!!!
  • + 3
 fest series. pffffffff xD get outta here
  • - 1
 Meh. I'll skip it this year and go for enduro ride...
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