Your Essential Guide to the Vallnord DH World Cup 2017

Jun 27, 2017
by Fraktiv  

Stand back.

There’s a new winner in town.


It’s been a long time coming but finally at the last round of the UCI DH World Cup, we saw what everyone had been waiting for… Tahnée Seagrave taking her first Elite-level World Cup win—congratulations Tahnée!

That weekend, we were also close to seeing Loris Vergier take his first Elite-level win too, but Aaron Gwin put paid to that dream—at least for now—securing his fourth win on the Leogang track, crowning him the undisputed master of the Asitz mountain.

Unfortunately, a number of high-profile riders of the French variety—namely, Rémi Thirion and Loïc Bruni—fell victim to the Austrian bike park, both sustaining pretty bad injuries. We wish them healing vibes and can’t wait to see them bring the fight later this season. But now to Vallnord, Andorra, the jewel of the Pyrenean mountains, for the fourth round of the 2017 UCI DH World Cup.


It s been a long time coming but Tahnee finally put all the pieces together today.

FMD racing is a family affair and the first people to congratulate Tahnee on her big win were her brother Kaos and her father Tony.
The paparazzi gets cooled off by the fastest ladies in Leogang.




The track


Andorra views for days. Months even.

The start of a long hard run. This track should be viewed as a bench mark.
One of the more classy ways to build a jump.

Adam Brayton brapping through the brown pow in today s morning session.
Way steeper than it looks and with about 4 different line options.

Lets get ready to rumble. The final round is here.

Widely regarded as one of the best tracks from last season, this year the riders don’t have to wait until the end of the year to race it. Vallnord is a wild and loose kind of track if the weather behaves itself, and in the wet, it can be one of the most challenging tracks on the circuit thanks to the steep, tricky sections in the lower half of the course.

Straight out of the start gate, riders fire through a relatively mellow (flat) section of woods, but soon face a number of sizeable gap jumps, and then on to two big bridge sections cutting over fire-roads below. The track soon gets steeper and trickier, thanks to the combination of multiple tight line choices between trees over expanses of inner tube-shredding rocks. As it wends its way down the hillside, there’s large sections of off-camber trail followed by steep sections where the track opens up to give riders plenty of line choice.

Three big jumps propel the riders out of the woods, followed by a few big berms, and then it’s back into a twisty woods section before more loose, open turns and over a few awkward-looking jumps. The woods are never far away though, keeping the riders on their toes, with awkward lines and sudden steep drops. Plenty of spots for weary riders to come undone.

Survivors find themselves out in the open, rushing towards the finish line, the penultimate feature being a big drop, followed by a catch berm just before they reach the timing beam.



What happened last year?


Last year we saw dust-bowl carnage for a number of riders as they tried their hardest to make the last race of the season count. The final race of 2016 was all going to plan until a rain shower closed in on the last few riders at the top of the hill.

In Elite Women we saw Rachel Atherton cap her utterly dominant season by taking the win 6.5 seconds up from Tracey Hannah, followed by Myriam Nicole, who herself had had an incredible run after qualifying in first place. Sadly for Myriam, race day just didn’t come together for her.


In the Elite Men’s race, we saw an epic battle between Gwin and Hart for the overall World Cup title. Qualifying day saw Gwin pretty much securing the title, with a lazy Sunday mosey down the hill on Sunday enough to have the title within his grasp. Only a DNF or DQ from Gwin would allow Hart a chance to take the title.

With broadcast cameras trained on Alexandre Fayolle in the hot seat, the rain began to fall for the final 20 riders. Using all his knowledge and expertise, Minnaar managed to overcome the rain and crossed the line 2.7 seconds up on Fayolle. Not even Loïc Bruni could better the South African’s time, but plucky Englishman, Danny Hart, rose to the challenge, taking 2.8 seconds off Minnaar’s time. The race was on.

With the track becoming ever greasier as the seconds ticked by, we saw Ferran Jorba Prats from Spain take the track. Jorba Prats, racing his last World Cup, had a fantastic qualifying but with the rain drenching the top of the course, he slid to around 16 seconds back, later crashing in the woods and finishing in a lowly 79th place. Two Frenchmen were next; Pierron and Thirion, but neither of them could do anything to dent the top times. Then came Gwin. His one and only task was to make it down in one piece, bike between the tape and without any kind of mechanical. Sure enough, Gwin crossed the line in 55th place, 22.26 seconds behind Hart but the overall winner of the 2016 season. The biggest winning negative margin in history perhaps? Or maybe the very definition of ‘slow and steady wins the race’.





The weather forecast

WC R4 Vallnord Weather 2017




Current standings

ELITE WOMEN

WC R3 Leogang Standings W 2017

ELITE MEN

WC R3 Leogang Standings M 2017



Predictions

WC R4 Vallnord Predictions 2017

bigquotesIt’s been a tough five weeks on the long roads from Fort William to Leogang, and then the silly back and forth to Les Gets and then Innsbruck, and then back through France to Andorra (and then back again to Lenzerheide in Switzerland next week… do race organisers understand maps?)

Some riders missed Crankworx in Les Gets, and some skipped Crankworx Innsbruck. Gwin skipped both. Is keeping race speed on tap going to pay off week after week (and don’t forget the detrimental apres-race tap), or is going home and sticking to the grind, the greater advantage? Who knows, and for the seasoned veterans of this sport, they shouldn’t be letting anything hold them back coming into Vallnord, Andorra this weekend.

Gwin is going to be fired up but Hart and Bruni are the previous winners on this brutal track, and Minnaar is on the form of his life. Plus there’s a Shark Attack ready to bite; Brosnan now has a Crankworx-winning Canyon between his legs, and there’s a threat of Bruni, Vergier, Shaw, Greenland, Fayolle—too many to consider! I think however we’ll see Hart’s return to his winning ways, Gwin a solid second, and the G.O.A.T in third. Let’s hope the Thunderstorm Season that’s plagued the 2017 season to date has finished too…

For Elite Women, Rachel has rumoured on her Instagram that she’s back on the bike but not feeling it. If she does turn up to the start line on Saturday, she’s still capable of a top step even without form and focus. Tracey Hannah is fresh from a Crankworx win but this will be her fifth race weekend on the trot. Tahnee Seagrave is on form after finally grabbing her first Elite-level World Cup win (in Leogang), a British Downhill Series demolition, and has had a weekend to regroup before Vallnord. Myriam Nicole is also killing it and her brother just won the Master’s World Champs on the Vallnord track, so she could have some inside line knowledge up her sleeve. It’s a tough call, but I’m going for Hannah, Seagrave and then Nicole, providing there’s no Trek at the start gate.
Paul Aston, Pinkbike's World Cup Crystal Ball Gazer




Previous podiums

ELITE WOMEN

WC R4 Vallnord Historic Results W 2017

ELITE MEN

WC R4 Vallnord Historic Results M 2017

Note * denotes World Championship year.

Danny hart makes it three wins in a row. Can he make it four next week at World Champs in Val di Sole
Once again the best way to wash off the dust is with a little champagne.




Time to tune in

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our awesome team of photographers and tech wizards in Vallnord this week. There’ll be the usual eye-candy photo epics from the track walk on Wednesday, practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday and finals on Saturday, as well as a smattering of tech reports throughout. For a full rundown of the schedule, check it out here.

For the Elite Women and Elite Men finals, you can watch the action live on Red Bull TV or via a local broadcaster (e.g. The Bike Channel in the UK) from 13:00 local time/CEST on Saturday 1st July (12:00 BST // 04:00 PDT // 07:00 EDT // 21:00 AEST // 23:00 NZST).

Aaron Gwin laying down the smoke screen on his final practice run of the 2016 World Cup season.



MENTIONS: @fraktiv / @natedh9 / @paulaston / @davetrumpore / @YTIndustries / @trek / @TransitionBikeCompany / @tahneeseagrave / @ms-racing2 / @Specialized / @redbullbike



98 Comments

  • + 71
 If only there were more races.
  • + 8
 DuelingBanjos - Exactly what I was thinking while scrolling through the article. And sensible travel for the teams.
  • + 0
 not enough money .....
  • + 23
 I predict Warner will have a heart attack and get blown away by anyone British or on a 29er. Then when Gwin blows past that time, he will only comment on how he made mistakes.
  • + 17
 Listening to Warner cover UK riders is like reading Dirt writing about UK made bikes. "Best!" "Amazing!" "Important!" "Definitely not worse than those troublesome colonists!"
  • + 43
 TBH, Warner showing patriotism and excitement towards his fellow countrymen doesn't seem to bother me. However, listening to Claudio pick apart peoples runs as if he knows the exact perfect line to take, only to sit by quietly as his team riders descend, does. Then, telling the viewers that he has a screen and info that we cant see, and informing us a particular rider is up or down before the first split we can see is a huge letdown. I want the excitement, knowledge, and suspense that came with Warner and Page had in the booth. He's obviously very opinionated (which is ok), but I find Claudio to be a downer and a pessimist, something I don't feel is good as a commentator.
  • + 8
 @mtnbykr05: Yeah, he's not good.
  • + 14
 @mtnbykr05:

Agreed... Stick to the course previews Claudio... Always wrong on his pace assumptions too.
  • + 29
 @mtnbykr05: BOOM! Listen to Needles commentate at the crankworx races, he does an awesome job! UCI NEEDS NEEDLES COMMENTATING DH!
  • - 20
flag ryanandrewrogers (Jun 27, 2017 at 12:30) (Below Threshold)
 TIPPIE FOR WC COMMENTATOR. in my honest opinion there is a simple equation to good viewer experience in mountain biking - "more tippie = more better"
  • + 9
 like Warner & Claudio, don´t like clown Wyn & overacted Trippie
  • + 3
 Needles is awesome.
  • + 7
 Wyn is only funny if you like drunk hillbilly humor. Thats about it. Warner,Page and Needles would be awesome.
  • + 7
 Another vote for Needles taking over color commentary for Claudio......
  • + 2
 @mtnbykr05 : +1 Claudio is definitely too pessimist! He does awesome stuff (velosolution etc) but commenting WC isn't part of it.
@Mallet21 : +1 for Warner and Needles
  • + 4
 @mtnbykr05: Claudio's a terrible in the booth. As you said, I want to hear someone hype the riders. Everyone of them is killing it, sideways, rocks flying everywhere, pure white knuckle madness. Talk that up, I couldn't give a flying f*ck if someone dabs a foot and loses 0.003. Heavy pessimistic vibes, you nailed it.
  • + 0
 I want CG and Warner!!! CG is funny as f@ck. The commentary has become way to tame since Red Bull took over. I might just tune into CG's live Facebook feed instead.
  • + 10
 I hate that criticizing Redbull feels like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but it would be great if they would:

-Show us better parts of the track. Example: not showing any of the top section of Fort William was a crime. Give those camera dudes some bug nets, or whatever.
-Show us the SAME SPLITS for every rider. Delaying showing splits for certain riders to enhance suspense (???) is missing the point. Knowing the splits is much more exciting than hearing Claudio say "according to my screen, so-and-so was up by x seconds."
-Show us the same amount of footage for (at least) the top 10 women/men.

Also

This is probably the UCI, but what is the deal with the 2 hour break between the elite women and the elite men? I don't remember that last season. Is that when the juniors ride? If yes, show us! Even if it's just the very top junior women and men, that would be awesome.

If it's not when the juniors are on track, I'd love to know what the deal is.

Having this coverage is awesome, but could be so much better.
  • + 2
 There isn't a two hour break.

There are 80 men in the final and they only show the top 30ish (don't recall the exact number)
  • + 1
 @WolfStoneD: the big screen in the finish area catches them anyways. Maybe they could just show them without commentary
  • + 1
 The hour break in broadcasting is new this year, because in previous seasons the women's race was pre-recorded, then played back just before the men's, rather than shown live. Now it is live, like @WolfStoneD says, you have the gap for the first lot of male elites
  • + 13
 Without a doubt the track most similar to a BC shuttle trail. Come on Wallace for Canada day weekend!
  • + 2
 No bike park here.
  • + 8
 Is that trailforks accurate?? Does the track really drop 2,000 feet in a SINGLE MILE???? That blows my mind!!
  • + 2
 was thinking that same thing. There are some spots on that track where the grade is -55. Andorra is steep AF
  • + 2
 @freestyIAM: For real?! I'd be intrigued to see that profile. As a skier, a 55 couloir is about as steep as you can get, and only the elite pros could ski that.
  • + 1
 @jamesdunford: according to that little yellow bubble that pops up on the green slope. Not sure how accurate but if the track really does drop 2k ft in a mile then odds are good some spots would be in that range.
  • - 2
 @jamesdunford: Ha... we must have better skiers and boarders in the states then! Razz
  • + 2
 @jamesdunford: Usually in ski the angle is measured in degrees, so you are talking about a 55 degree slope.
Trailforks shows the percentage so its not the same.
  • + 8
 Are those the current standings?
  • + 22
 Those are uci overall standings not world cup standings. It's minaar, gwinn, moir. Of course the world's foremost mountain biking website presenting an article on the world cup would get that right. Sure Hart is in first place without winning a race. Who could have fact checked that.
  • + 5
 Pretty sure those are wrong, wasn't Minnaar leading?
  • + 0
 @tgreid: So who's going to win the WC overall? The one with most UCI points no matter where scored? Or the one that scored most points on WC races?
  • + 4
 @szusz: world cup rankings only, uci overall mean nothing.
  • + 2
 @tgreid: I see, thanks.

Would like to see Hart on top this season - it could still happen.
  • + 5
 @tgreid: yeah uci overall mean nothing. Only who has been the best rider over the past year!
  • + 1
 I also find it strange that PB post the overall after EWS rounds, but can't even get the WC DH overall correct. VitalMTB does post the WC DH overall after each race, which is where I go the get that information. The UCI website is even more useless than PB for this particular information.
  • + 1
 p.vitalmtb.com/photos/stories/2017/06/11/max_Screen_Shot_2017_06_11_at_7.46.09_AM_995086.jpg

1. Minnaar - 472
2. Gwin - 434
3. Moir - 349
4. Gutierrez - 346
5. Vergier - 308
  • + 2
 @jaame: or technically, who has entered the most races and received points.... Not really a measure of who is best for anything other than racing a lot.
  • + 2
 @retswen:

That exact same information is in the photo above. Right in this very article there is a screen grab of the current points standing for both male and female.
  • + 3
 @WolfStoneD: they added that after our comments.
  • + 1
 @stickman5000: yeah Danny Hart, not very good, just entered a lot of races.
  • + 0
 @jaame: Yeah, my comment said nothing about being good, but who is the best. Learn to f*cking read ass hat.
  • + 7
 Weather report: "We have no idea, but we think it might rain."
  • + 1
 Time to be a pedant: a contradiction, surely?
  • + 2
 IMO Aston should just estimate probabilities - Hart 1/3, Gwin 1/3, Minaar 1/3. It's really, really hard to tell which of those three is going to take it - any ranking feels like a bold claim.
  • + 5
 This will be Gwins year on this track.
  • + 3
 After looking at the previous results, it would be an understatement to say he's waaaaaaay overdue on this track.
  • + 0
 Loic's been far too quiet this year so far... his time has come - Bruni no. 1 this weekend
  • + 2
 @graeme187: Bruni has been quiet and has very little momentum. Hart on the other hand is coming off a win at CWX Innsbruck and Gwin's return to form at Leogang. Not counting him out but his competition is steep.
  • + 1
 OK, race day points I understand are 200 for first and then various amounts until 110 for fifth. But there are points for qualifying/seeding order also arent there? Can anyone tell me how those break down. I'm trying to make sense of the standings. If everyone stays healthy from here out (unlikely) can Rachel claw her way back to the front or is she already without hope of saving the season?/
  • + 1
 Elite men: 50 points for first in qualifiers, 5 points for 20th. Elite women: 50 pts first, 5 pts tenth. More details on page 43 of this document here
www.uci.ch/mm/Document/News/Rulesandregulation/17/29/73/4MTB-E-1.01.2017_English.pdf
  • + 4
 Your prediction is Danny Hart?? #wonthappen
  • + 1
 Right, so who did the calculations to determine at exactly which race of the remaining season Rachel is to come back and steal everyone else's lunch?
  • + 2
 Hoping Bruni is ready to race... his doctor gave him the ok a few weeks back, but not sure how strong/fit he is for racing
  • + 2
 How many WC wins does Gwin have now?
  • + 3
 @kwapik: thanks i checked his site and Wiki and couldn't find it. Looks like we'll have another race for the GOAT title again soon.
  • + 12
 @north-shore-bike-shop: for sure...a new GOAT. Check out what I read a while back.

2011 to 2015 World Cup DH races...34 total
Gwin...14
Minnaar...5
Smith...4
Bryceland...3
Atherton...3
Hill...2
MacDonald...1
Thirion...1
Brosnan...1

Future GOAT
  • + 7
 @kwapik:
If you chose arbitrarily some years like this you can show whatever you want
2013:
Smith : 3
Atherton : 2
Thirion : 1
Minnaar : 0
Gwin : 0
  • + 5
 I hope if/when Gwin passes Minnaar for most WC victories journalists will stop using the GOAT title. It always sounds stupid to me, no matter which sport it's used in. Just say one of the greats/best or something like that.
  • + 13
 @zede: But he didn't arbitrarily pick a year, he picked 6 years in a row.
  • + 2
 Yep the acronym should be GAON -Greatest As Of Now.
  • + 5
 @jwrendenver @zede @kwapik:
2016 (gosh why include last year? Wink :
Hart: 3
Gwin: 2
Bruni: 1
Minnaar: 1

2011 to 2016 World Cup DH races...41 total
Gwin...16
Not Gwin...25
  • + 6
 @zede: As I stated, I was referencing an article I read. I didn't arbitrarily choose anything. My point is Gwin is heading to be the all time leader in WC DH wins. In the future, we can all discuss who the GOAT is.

@westeast: TBH, when I hear the term GOAT, I always think of Ricky Carmichael

@jwrendenver: Right on

@endlessblockades: GAON...I like it.

@mi-bike: The wins keep racking up.
  • - 2
 @kwapik: one of the reason people call minnaar the goat, is that he has been winning for 15 years... You can't just take the years where gwin is winning and say "here is the goat". And everybody always make shitloads of crappy predictions about who was gonna rule the next 5/10 years of DH WC (when steve smith started his massacre, when ratboy started to win...) but truth is prediction are useless. Stevie was super good, and then he injured himself, and then again. and then when he started to rise again, he passed away as we all know Frown . Same for ratboy, super good and then got injured, and then left the WC scene. You don't predict that a rider is the "GOAT", it's obvious. Atm, it's obvious for minnaar. Let's see in few years if it becomes obvious for Gwin. @westeast yeah it's just another nickname. Like E.T for vouilloz.
  • + 4
 @mi-bike: that is a 64% winning streak over a 6 year stretch if those numbers are right.
  • + 2
 Gwin: 4 overall WC titles, 17 WC wins, 0 World Championships
Minnaar: 3 overall WC titles, 20 WC wins, 3 World Championships
Vouilloz: 4 overall WC titles, 16 WC wins, 7 World Championships

Going strictly off of those stats I'd have to hand the GOAT title to NV.
  • + 2
 @westeast: that's why he's called E.T. As I said minnaar has been seating at the top for 15 years, who else can say the same ?
  • + 1
 @kwapik: RC is the holder of that title as he won every AMA pro race series he contested and racked up a perfect season or two along the way. GOAT!
  • + 1
 @insanebiker6: I hope you ride better than your do maths ... Big Grin
(16/(16+25))*100=39%
Still an impressive winning percentage though!
  • + 1
 @westeast: Where did you get the stats? I'd be curious to see what Sam Hill has.

Damn I miss him destroying everyone's time and then crash in the final section... !
  • + 1
 @bikounet: Wikipedia.

Sam Hill: 1 overall WC title, 13 WC wins, 2 World Championships (not counting his 2 Jr. ones).
Steve Peat: 3 overall WC titles, 17 WC wins, 1 World Championship.
  • + 1
 I think the current standings are the THING, ie WC. Rankings must be overall, but not WC, no?
  • + 2
 Sweet 55 degree weather in late June.
  • + 1
 and a -55 degree gradient track
  • + 0
 I don't want to bash, but what do everybody have about Fayolle? I mean OK he won on dry track while the top ones ridden wet one. But can we measure him with the top guys?
  • + 1
 Is anyone actually interested in the women's?
  • + 1
 Whats with the massive dildo in the track?
  • + 1
 your mom dropped it there
  • + 1
 Funk any Goat Sam Hill was the don
  • + 2
 ball gazer...
  • + 1
 hope its a snot slick course for danny to work his magik
  • + 2
 Doubt it. Face planted in the mud at the fort.
  • + 1
 Uh, you guys......he used a laughing face emoji.
  • + 1
 #RAdelaideMTBMafia
  • - 3
 Hope for RAIN, cause that's the only way the bottom feeders can win a race!
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