Pinkbike Primer: Everything You Need to Know Before the 2022 DH World Cup Season Begins at Lourdes

Mar 17, 2022 at 17:52
by Alicia Leggett  

Here we go!

Is it the start of an actual, full, and complete year of racing? Quite possibly, for the first time in a few years, and we're feeling antsy with anticipation for the start of the World Cup season this weekend in Lourdes, France. The last time these riders all came together for a World Cup race, it was at the highly-charged, incredibly dramatic Snowshoe double-header last fall. We can expect that Myriam Nicole and Thibaut Daprela will come charging into this weekend with some unfinished business after each of them gave up the overall title right at the end of last season, and we'll have a whole new batch of first-year elites to mix things up at the sharp end of the field.

There have been some big team changes since the end of last season, and some of the racers may be entering the arena with a bit of extra fire: the Syndicate received a major facelift (not that it's ever needed one) with the additions of Laurie Greenland, Nina Hoffmann, and Jackson Goldstone, while Luca Shaw has gone the other direction to the Canyon Collective. Even for the riders who stuck with their sponsorship programs from last year, nothing stays the same: Vali Holl seems to have found a groove for the season finale races in Snowshoe last year and we look forward to seeing if she can carry that momentum forward to jumpstart her season.

Nestled into the French Pyrenees, Lourdes is a pilgrimage destination for an estimated 200 million people who have visited the reportedly holy town since 1860, and the spring water from Grotto of Massabielle is said to have healing properties. The pilgrimage season begins right about now, so the World Cup racers making their own journeys to the hallowed region will be joined by thousands of others, some of whom will likely join the crowd to help cheer on their compatriots.

Whether it's the holy water or some other special sauce, the French riders will once again be a force out on the track, having taken six of the fourteen World Cup and World Champs victories in 2021. Given that the French will be riding on home soil to kick off the season, we expect spirits to be high and eyes to be on the prize.

Welcome back.

The Track

Five years ago, Lourdes was a rider favorite with its rough and raw character, in stark contrast to some of the more manicured courses on the circuit. It will be interesting to see what the organizers have in store this time around, as the track probably won't be rock-for-rock identical to in 2017, but it'll still use the same steep, slick, and relentless terrain.

After the (extremely scenic) start ramp, the track opens up into a fast jump section before dropping the riders into the infamous steeps, where they'll have a multitude of line choices and some high-consequence moves to make. Then, it's back into the woods, where 2017 saw some new, raw sections of trail, littered with slick roots and unforgiving rocks, and we expect more of the same in 2022. The physical course stays mainly in the woods - and rough - as it becomes tighter and more off-camber before finally sending riders off a final drop to the finish line.

The city of miracles as seen from the start gate.

Remi Thirion takes the nasty shelf section of the wall in his stride.
Loamy hero dirt full of rocks. Lourdes have mercy.

Lourdes... always ready to turn the gnar-factor up to 11 and leave it there.

The organizers have also been teasing some new sections on Instagram:

Previous Races

While not particularly recent, we do have three back-to-back years of racing at Lourdes to draw from in 2015, 2016, and 2017.


Elite Men

1. Alex Fayolle: 2:52.758
2. Mark Wallace +3.326
3. Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas +3.441
4. Florent Payet +3.798
5. Connor Fearon +4.206
Elite Women

1. Rachel Atherton: 3:21.430
2. Tracey Hannah +2.579
3. Tahnee Seagrave +2.735
4. Myriam Nicole +6.356
5. Manon Carpenter +8.591


Elite Men

1. Aaron Gwin: 3:09.131
2. Steve Smith +2.471
3. Danny Hart +2.686
4. Troy Brosnan +4.150
5. Amaury Pierron +4.309
Elite Women

1. Rachel Atherton: 3:50.383
2. Tahnee Seagrave +4.472
3. Manon Carpenter +10.258
4. Tracey Hannah +13.591
5. Emilie Siegenthaler +21.808


Elite Men

1. Aaron Gwin: 2:58.691
2. Loic Bruni +3.955
3. Michael Jones +6.405
4. Danny Hart +6.886
5. Sam Dale +7.139
Elite Women

1. Emmeline Ragot: 3:32.625
2. Rachel Atherton +2.060
3. Myriam Nicole +2.508
4. Manon Carpenter +7.906
5. Tracey Hannah +10.126

What Happened at the Last Round?

Race 1

Elite Women

1st. Vali Holl: 3:40.233
2nd. Camille Balanche: 3:44.850
3rd. Marine Cabirou: 3:45.928
4th. Myriam Nicole: 3:50.128
5th. Tahnee Seagrave: 3:50.647

Elite Men

1. Reece Wilson - 3:10.066
2. Loic Bruni +0.032
3. Loris Vergier +0.580
4. Finn Iles +1.289
5. Mark Wallace +1.332

Race 2

Elite Women

1st. Vali Höll: 3:39.679
2nd. Marine Cabirou: 3:39.935
3rd. Camille Balanche: 3:45.100
4th. Tahnee Seagrave: 3:46.236
5th. Nina Hoffmann: 3:46.948

Elite Men

1st. Loic Bruni: 3:13.379
2nd. Troy Brosnan: 3:13.800
3rd. Angel Suarez: 3:14.010
4th. Amaury Pierron: 3:14.154
5th. Luca Shaw: 3:14.707

Make no doubt about it Alex Fayolle was pinned all weekend and had a blinder of a run especially in that middle section.
Another World Cup and another win for Rachel Atherton. But this one was not easy and the other women are hot on her heals right now.

Myriam Nicole getting aggressive in the morning s final training session.

2021 Final Standings

1st // Loic Bruni // 877
2nd // Thibaut Daprela // 752
3rd // Loris Vergier // 713
4th // Troy Brosnan // 666
5th // Reece Wilson // 637
6th // Amaury Pierron // 552
7th // Laurie Greenland // 549
8th // Benoit Coulanges // 538
9th // Danny Hart // 535
10th // Angel Suarez Alonso // 465
1st // Vali Holl // 1125
2nd // Myriam Nicole // 1079
3rd // Camille Balanche // 1065
4th // Tahnee Seagrave // 936
5th // Marine Cabirou // 691
6th // Eleonora Farina // 658
7th // Monika Hrastnik // 587
8th // Mille Johnset // 515
9th // Nina Hoffmann // 333
10th // Emilie Siegenthaler // 320

Weather Forecast

After some rain through the weekend, it's set to clear up this week and, fingers crossed, looks relatively clear for the race this weekend, which would be a welcome change compared to the deluge in 2017. Still, the chances of it staying dry for finals Sunday look hardly better than a coin flip, so we'll just have to wait and see.

You know how challenging the conditions are when a rider with Danny s caliber is helpless to stop his bike from sliding out from beneath him.

Thursday, March 24 - Track Walk
Mostly cloudy // 16°C // 23% precipitation, 0mm // wind 9km/h

Friday, March 25 - Training
More clouds than sun // 17°C // 12% precipitation, 0mm // wind 9km/h

Saturday, March 26 - Qualifying
More clouds than sun // 16°C // 25% precipitation, 0mm // wind 9km/h

Sunday, March 27 - Finals
Times of clouds and sun // 17°C // 40% precipitation, 0.5mm // wind 9km/h

Weather forecast from Accuweather as of Tuesday, March 22.

The Schedule

Florent Payet is always so close to the leaders and today found himself a few steps higher and on the podium.

Thursday, March 24
• 09:30 - 10:30 // On Foot Course Inspection - Elite teams
• 10:30 - 16:00 // On Foot Course Inspection - All riders

Friday, March 25
• 08:45 - 11:15 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 11:15 - 12:30 // Official Downhill Training - Groups A & B
• 12:45 - 15:15 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• 15:30 - 17:00 // Downhill Timed Training Session - World Cup top 60 Elite Men, top 15 Elite Women, top 10 Junior Men, top 3 Junior Women
• 17:00 - 17:45 // On Foot Course Inspection - Riders & Teams

Saturday, March 26
• 08:45 - 10:15 // Official Downhill Training - Group B
• 10:15 - 11:45 // Official Downhill Training - Group A
• 12:15 // Seeding Run - Junior Women
• 12:30 // Qualifying Round - Junior Men
• 13:30 // Qualifying Round - Elite Women
• 14:00 // Qualifying Round - Elite Men
• Followed by 30 minutes On Foot Downhill Course Inspection - Riders & Teams

Sunday, March 27
• 08:15 - 09:15 // Official Downhill Training - Junior Women, Junior Men, Elite Women
• 09:45 // Final - Junior Men
• 10:30 // Final - Junior Women
• 10:50 - 11:05 // Official Downhill Training - Elite Women
• 11:05 - 12:05 // Official Downhill Training - Elite Men
• 12:30 // Final - Elite Women
• 13:30 // Final - Elite Men followed by awards ceremony

Note: All times are local and subject to change by the event organizer.

Follow Along

Holy Water - Finals Photo Epic - Lourdes DH World Cup 2017

Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our team in Lourdes this week. Tune in to catch photo epics, videos and results from Timed Training, Practice, Qualifying, and Finals, as well as tech coverage and news - plus all the latest from our new team, Pinkbike Racing.

You can also watch the first round of the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup live or on demand on The live broadcast starts on Sunday, March 27 at 12:25 CEST.

Schedule: Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Lourdes LIVE on Red Bull TV:

Lourdes DHI Women: March 27 Live on Red Bull TV 12:25 CEST
Lourdes DHI Men: March 27 Live on Red Bull TV 13:25 CEST

All times CEST and subject to change. The replay will become available immediately following the races.

2022 Fantasy League

Don't forget to complete your DH Fantasy team for the first round this weekend, because the fantasy league is a whole lot more fun if you participate in each race.

The Fantasy Downhill League is Presented by Specialized


  • 120 3
 steve smith
  • 25 275
flag scott-townes (Mar 22, 2022 at 5:36) (Below Threshold)
 He's not racing this year.
  • 38 10
 @scott-townes: poor taste……
  • 14 13
 @scott-townes: go f*ck yourself.
  • 9 11
 @scott-townes: really!
I don’t believe in god but your the perfect example of why I don’t!

Long live chainsaw
  • 3 1
 @Meganstuart1: By His stripes you are healed.
  • 2 0
 @likeittacky: thank god for that....
  • 42 2
 I am Lourdes. Lourdes Lourdes Lourdes.
  • 11 0
 Ya ya ya
  • 34 0
 Reports that Mulally arrived 2 weeks ago and has had his finger immersed in the grotto spring ever since are unconfirmed.
  • 34 2
 Enjoy the last year of free downhill TV coverage. RIP.
  • 19 1
 I’m not completely against paying for it. I’m worried I’m enjoying the last year of full in depth coverage that I can watch live!
  • 16 0
 @kylar: That's the rub. I'm completely against paying for shit coverage laden with adverts. Here's hoping my worst fears are unfounded.
  • 6 0
 @commental: that’s exactly what’s going to happen. They didn’t even want DH it came as part of a package. It was good but never brilliant anyway. An old dated format with too many competitors and two little competition. Red Bull should just do it own downhill series. They have the audience for it already.
  • 5 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Not sure I agree with you about the format, but I'm hoping that's what'll happen. I have a feeling, given Discovery's love of mining, that they'll dig a hole where interest in watching DH will be buried (or should I say shafted?). Oh, and I nearly forgot to say, f*ck the UCI, the sooner DH gets out of their clutches the better.
  • 13 0
 Red Bull does about as good a job as possible.
  • 4 0
 @kylar: Paying only for MTB WC (if the coverage is decent) is one thing, but there is no way in hell I'm paying an annual subscription for some shit-filled package deal including golf and synchronized swimming just to watch 6 or 7 MTB races per year (that is if/when I actually have the time to watch all rounds).

Really good coverage and pay per view is the only way I'll even consider it. But I'm 99% sure that's not gonna happen and it will be as described above instead.
  • 2 0
 @bananowy: I don’t really feel the same way. It’s a high point of my year, getting up at 3-5 am on a weekend, making some snacks, and just geeking out on the racing! So cool to be able to see, even on tv, when someone is on a killer run. I look forward to it all year and would pay quite a lot for really good coverage, even if it means paying for golf or whatever. It’s the “really good live coverage” thing I’m worried about going away. And what streaming service has an annual subscription? Just pay for the months you want. I only ever really have one streaming service that I’m paying for at any one time. Just binge all the good new content, cancel, and move to the next one.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I would love Red Bull to keep doing their thing but I assume they wouldn't be allowed to from a legal standpoint? Which makes your first point more worrying - I seriously hope so called 'Discovery' offer decent coverage as it has just gotten to a really good place. Quality commentary and analysis from RB. Please don't f**k it up Discovery.
  • 1 0
 @tremeer023: I don't think it's a case of legalities, Freecaster explored the idea with DH1, but shelved it when Red Bull announced they would be allowing people to watch for free when they took over the broadcast.
  • 1 0
 @commental: I thought the UCI had a new 7 year broadcasting contract with Discovery. Not sure if it gives them exclusive rights/coverage though.
  • 1 0
 @tremeer023: They do for UCI events, but Red Bull will keep Hardline and I think they could have a separate series if they were inclined. Unless something's changed Freecaster wouldn't have gone as far as they did with DH1 if there were legalities stopping them.
Probably the biggest hurdle would be getting teams to participate, but it might become more appealing to them if Discovery drop the ball.
  • 2 1
 @tremeer023: They can’t cover the UCI World Cup but there’s nothing stopping them doing their own rival series and broadcasting that. Ideally cut down the numbers. There’s no reason their should be 80 racers in the elites. Keep it to actual legit elites and give them more coverage and with a smaller field they won’t be so reliant on ski resorts so instead of seeing the same 6 tracks every year it will open venues like Llangollen which can’t host world cups but have incredible tracks.
  • 1 1
 @thenotoriousmic: Portugal is probably the only worthy track, but I'd rather watch racing on a track that's longer than 1 minute 50 seconds
  • 15 1
 Gaaah, put it in my veins goddammit!!
  • 11 1
 Everything you need to know but the start list
  • 1 0
 Gotta pay extra for that on Beta! Would give you an unfair advantage on the fantasy competition.
  • 13 8
 Two things.

1. Look at them racing in shorts at the last race! Seems like forever ago but naah.

2. Remember Alex Fayolle trying to convince everyone that the weather didn't really have an impact and that he would've won the race anyway? That thought still makes me laugh.
  • 8 0
 Please stop spreading bullsh*ts. Fayolle never said that, actually he said the total opposite:

From PB interview: "So you didn't celebrate at all? Were you upset? - [...] For me, I didn't win this race. I beat the other guys but I didn't win. It's hard to be happy after that".

He further stated in a much later interview that this win affected him mentally and he never really came back from it. This despite putting promising results that same year.

Link to the itw:
  • 8 0
 I just hope this isn't the final year for Warner. His broadcasting is so iconic to the sport.
  • 9 2
 Emmeline Ragot was such a great racer, I remember her run from 2015 well. So good
  • 3 1
 She was always my favourite rider to watch. Amazing aggressive style, I reckon she could still easily get on the podium if she wanted to
  • 7 0
 the whoops!!!! yesssssssss
  • 7 1
 A spectator has been appointed to ride Brayton's bike through them if he doesn't get that far.
  • 1 2
 @commental: I remember a WC years ago (unsure of which one exactly), where a rider crashed on or before some Whoops and a spectator decided he would ride the bike down the track for the rider who was injured. Then that guy bailed hard on the whoops..... and that's the end of my story.

Side note, I can't remember seeing whoops like that any time recently.
  • 1 0
 @commental: If you didn't google that, you are some kind of world cup wizard.
  • 1 0
 @poundsand: Well, I knew it was Brayton and I knew it was Cairns, but I had to check the year.
  • 1 0
 @commental: that's not a video of Brayton from Cairns...
  • 3 0
 @gilby82: Oops, not sure how I managed to post the wrong link. Should've been this one.
  • 1 0
 @commental: Now that's the good stuff. I'm not sure I understand the meaning of whoops without a motor. I think they're just there to kill people...
  • 7 2
 Is Rachel racing? Can't see anything on her Insta
  • 1 0
 IIRC she was focusing on British nationals first and seeing how things go.
  • 4 0
 Last time Troy wants to go into the offseason with 666 points...
  • 4 0
 that whoops section is dope!
  • 4 0
 my body is ready
  • 1 0
 That's what we want to hear. Bodies on, minds off. WC DH!
  • 4 0
 Rub it on my belly
  • 3 0
 Putain, ça va être booooon !!!!!
  • 3 1
 Oh boy! Let the games begin!
  • 2 0
 Is this still on Redbull TV?
  • 1 0
 Yes. Discovery don't take over until 2023.
  • 4 0
 Yes. Get it while you can, before it gets chewed up in the pay-per-view gang bang.
  • 5 0
 @BenPea: Pay per view would actually not be terrible if we have to pay at all. But I have a feeling it's gonna be a subscription to a steaming pile of bullshit no one wants to watch with a few minutes of MTB WC crammed between toe wrestling and cheese rolling.
  • 2 0
 @bananowy: Agree completely. I can pay whatever they ask for it. But the probability that the product will be vastly inferior - as well as not bloody free - is nailed on. And then what happens? Barely anybody gets to enjoy the sport nearly as much? And then what? They may well be left with next to zero viewers to sell on to the next chancers.
I remain extremely optimistic, nonetheless.
  • 2 0
 Pick number 3 my Lourdes !!
  • 1 0
 The races results these days are so close now days whereas back in 2016 there like 3 whole seconds back
  • 3 0
 Gwin used to take 3-6 seconds out of the competition most races.
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: c'est la vie
  • 2 0
 Anyone know if there’s an entry list anywhere…?
  • 8 0
 Everyone is racing except the people you picked for your fantasy league.
  • 1 2
 i love the comment on WE race to win. All this guys on PB hipping up guys inn the top 20s or mediocre results getting all sorts of hype. No one reads past the first place winner.
  • 1 0
 am i crazy or did the color schemes of kits and bikes look really tight back in 2017???
  • 1 0
 Brosnan is injured and not racing correct? Any other top pros out? Neko is still riding last I heard.
  • 1 0
 I guess we don't need to know the rider's list
  • 3 0
 It's all the riders. God, this is better than Christmas when you're 8.
  • 2 0
 A teat is the projection from the mammary glands of mammals from which milk flows or is ejected for the purpose of feeding young
  • 1 0
 When has there ever been a 'riders list'? Teams were registered 6/7 weeks ago, unless injured or unwell, they'll be racing
  • 1 0
 crazy how much tighter the times have gotten over the years!
  • 1 0
 ...Are Baptiste Pierron and Jessica Blewitt confirmed starters?
  • 2 0
 I would imagine Jess is? She won the NZ national champs last month, so unless she's gotten injured since then, I would think she would be:
  • 2 0
 No. if you want to win that ugly specialized helmet, you're going to want to get them off of your fantasy team before they are locked in tomorrow.

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