Track Walk: Thunder Mountain - Val di Sole World Cup DH 2019

Jul 31, 2019 at 12:29
by Dave Trumpore  






Once again the World Cup returns to Val di Sole and the infamous Black Snake downhill track, arguably the most technical and demanding on the circuit year after year. And while this particular region of Italy is named for its abundant sunshine, it may be the daily thunderstorms that leave a more lasting impression on racers this week.

The track walk got underway in the rain as loud claps of thunder could be heard not too far off in the distance. While the dirt here can handle moisture well, it is the polished slick roots the will be causing headaches should storms continue to roll in and out. With literally entire sections of track covered with crisscrossing roots, many in and out of corners, mastering their trickery will be paramount to carrying a winning pace. It will be riders who can manage the inconsistency of conditions and adapt to changing lines that will succeed here. With the thick tree cover above the track often goes from rain-soaked in one section to dry and dusty the next, and at times there will be a wet and dry line option on the same section of track. Add to that a ton of soft loamy dirt that will surely cut up with ruts and holes and you all of a sudden have quite a lot to think about each run. On some tracks, riders can shut their brain off and relax a bit through sections, but Val di Sole is not one of those tracks. It demands respect and focus from top to bottom, otherwise, the Black Snake will bite back hard.

In the men's race the momentum is obviously in the favor of the French as they have not lost a race this year, and with multiple riders on the podium each round they have been nothing but dominating. In The women's field, Tracey Hannah is the obvious favorite but Marine Cabirou has been on a charge and will be certainly gunning for the top step. Behind those two there have been lots of fresh faces on the podium which will make it anyone's race really.

With three rounds to go and the series overall and podium spots very much still up for grabs, a good result will matter more than ever, and the rough and rowdy track of Val di Solé is the perfect venue to set the stage.


The valleys of Trentino have more than their fair share of impressive castles.
The valleys of Trentino have more than their fair share of impressive castles.

As always track walk day is also rebuild and refresh day for the suspension techs. These guys are flat out rebuilding dozens of forks and shocks ahead of what will be a brutal week of racing.
As always, track walk day is also rebuild and refresh day for the suspension techs. These guys are flat out rebuilding dozens of forks and shocks ahead of what will be a brutal week of racing.

It was a wet one today in the Valley of Sunshine
It was a wet one today in the Valley of Sunshine.

Can Amaury Pierron use his win in Les Gets to build momentum in this title fight
Can Amaury Pierron use his win in Les Gets to build momentum in this title fight?

Brake bleeds were common place throughout the pits with braking performance critical here.
Brake bleeds were commonplace throughout the pits with braking performance-critical here.

All hail Captain America - Neko Mullaly - defending the USA national champ sleeve for the second year in a row.
All hail Captain America - Neko Mullaly - defending the USA National Champ sleeve for the second year in a row.

Vergier knows an umbrella spike to the head is the best way to kill the deadly Italian blacksnake.
Vergier knows an umbrella spike to the head is the best way to kill the deadly Italian blacksnake.

Smooth and sculpted mini shark fin to berm up top.
Smooth and sculpted mini shark fin to berm up top.

No rain for three weeks and then a big downpour today. Still it will take more moisture than that to affect the deep pockets of brown pow that have accumulated on this course.
No rain for three weeks and then a big downpour today. Still, it will take more moisture than that to affect the deep pockets of brown pow that have accumulated on this course.

Wet one moment and bone dry the next. Consistently inconsistent when the rains fall.
Wet one moment and bone dry the next. Consistently inconsistent when the rains fall.

Raw and natural as it should be
Raw and natural as mountain biking should be.

Fancy riding Val di Sole with a broken knuckle Jamie Edmondson is going to give it a go.
Fancy riding Val di Sole with a broken knuckle? Jamie Edmondson is going to give it a go.

There s a couple of sections that have been taped wider than previous years including the option to drop over this massive boulder.
There are a couple of sections that have been taped wider than previous years including the option to drop over this massive boulder.

Charlie Harrison is back in action.
Charlie Harrison is back in action.

In the dry this sweeping turn is a challenge so you can only imagine the headaches it will cause if wet.
In the dry this sweeping turn is a challenge so you can only imagine the headaches it will cause if wet.

Other than the start and finish tis small bit of track is the only bit not burried in the woods.
Other than the start and finish, this small bit of track is the only bit not buried in the woods.

This big boulder came loose during track walk and we can only hope assume that it is removed before practice.
This big boulder came loose during track walk and we can only hope/assume that it is removed before practice.

Loris Vergier posing with said rock to give a sense of scale. If that thing starts rolling down the hill things will get ugly for anyone in its path.
Loris Vergier posing with said rock to give a sense of scale. If that thing starts rolling down the hill things will get ugly for anyone in its path.

Things have been freshened up a little towards the middle of the track.
Things have been freshened up a little towards the middle of the track.

It was surprisingly dry and dusty in spots which will make it hard for riders to judge where and when there is grip.
It was surprisingly dry and dusty in spots which will make it hard for riders to judge where and when there is grip.

The Mondraker crew scope the steep and dusty helter-skelter of the middle section.
The Mondraker crew scope the steep and dusty helter-skelter of the middle section.

Nothing nothing nothing.... hazardous rock Nothing nothing.
Nothing, nothing, nothing....Hazardous rock! Nothing, nothing.

The 2017 Val Di Sole World Champ finding lines in the rain.
The 2016 Val Di Sole World Champ finding lines in the rain.

what s your line over the wet rocks and roots
What's your line over the wet rocks and roots?

dry dirt to wet rock back to dry dirt all in 50 meters of track. If it rains here things get complicated.
Dry dirt to wet rock back to dry dirt - all in 50 meters of track. If it rains here, things get complicated.

Loic and Fin took one of the slowest walks ever up on the Black Snake course today there s simply so much to take in.
Loic and Finn took one of the slowest walks ever up on the Black Snake course today; there's simply so much to take in.

Brook MacDonald s been moving up the ranks steadily this season while Mike Jones has had a season to forget. 2nd and 3rd at the splits in Les Gets show he has the speed however.
Brook MacDonald has been moving up the ranks steadily this season while Mike Jones has had a season to forget. 2nd and 3rd at the splits in Les Gets showed that he has the speed, however.

Greg Minnaar missed out on Val di Sole last year due to injury but is happy and healthy heading into this weekend.
Greg Minnaar missed out on Val di Sole last year due to injury but is happy and healthy heading into this weekend.

Greg Minnaar having a look at his now infamous crash spot in 2017.
Greg Minnaar having a look at his now infamous crash spot in 2017.

One of the gnarliest section of track has been reworked but very much for the better. know longer a blown out and one line rut and still plenty gnarly.
One of the gnarliest sections of track has been reworked but very much for the better. No longer a blown-out and one line rut, and still plenty gnarly.

wider rockier and just as rowdy on some of the new bits of track.
Wider, rockier, and just as rowdy on some of the new bits of track.

A nice relaxing berms made of wet jagged slabs.
A nice relaxing berm made of wet, jagged slabs.

A silver medal at Worlds 2016 and missing out on the win last year by less than a second Laurie Greenland is a true VDS specialist. After 3rd in Les Gets we can surely look forward to one hell of a wild run at the weekend.
A silver medal at Worlds in 2016 and missing out on the win last year by less than a second, Laurie Greenland is a true VDS specialist. After 3rd in Les Gets we can surely look forward to one hell of a wild run this weekend.

The only man apart from Aaron Gwin to have won at Val Di Sole more than once Gee Atherton will be going for the three-peat this weekend.
The only man apart from Aaron Gwin to have won at Val Di Sole more than once, Gee Atherton, will be going for the three-peat this weekend.

Luca Shaw contemplating the best line over the roots to set up for the steep right hand turn just out of view
Luca Shaw contemplating the best line over the roots to set up for the steep right-hand turn just out of view.

The crash nets of the lower woods ready to snatch some stray bikes over the next few days.
The crash nets of the lower woods ready to snatch some stray bikes over the next few days.

Once upon a time it was a huge and risky commitment to send this big natural step down. Now all you really need is a pulse.
Once upon a time it was a huge and risky commitment to send this big natural step down. Now, all you really need is a pulse.

Each year the roots in this flay corner seen to grow in size and multiply.
Each year the roots in this flat corner seen to grow in size and multiply.

The super sender remains included and awaits to be sent the full 25 metres plus.
The super sender remains included and awaits to be sent the full 25 meters plus.

The infamous final turns where it s oh so easy easy to go from hero to zero.
The infamous final turns where it's oh so easy to go from hero to zero.

Team IFR headed down the last straight to the finish area.
Team IFR headed down the last straight to the finish area.

Dean Lucas has the oh-so-lucky 16 plate for this weekend. Minnaar won qualifying with the plate last time in Les Gets while Bruni and Vergier have podiumed with the plate in the past. Dean tells us he also took the plate onto the podium himself in Losinj last year. Now that really is lucky.
Dean Lucas has the oh-so-lucky 16 plate for this weekend. Minnaar won qualifying with the plate last time in Les Gets while Bruni and Vergier have podiumed with the plate in the past. Dean tells us he also took the plate onto the podium himself in Losinj last year. Now that really is lucky.

A little more Sole and things are back the way it should be.
At the end of the day there was a little more 'Sole' and things are back to the way they should be.



44 Comments

  • + 49
 "Each year the roots in this flat corner seen to grow in size and multiply." -that's kinda how trees work.
  • + 6
 Spare some change for a new keyboard? Mine has coffee all over it.
  • + 23
 Whoa. For a sec there I thought they were in Massachusetts...
  • + 8
 Seriously! I was about to hop in my car and head over to Thunder to get an in person track walk.
  • + 4
 @tbubier: that rock been at the end reminds me of The Schist too. And all the nasty roots. I’d love to see the World Cup at Thunder but it’s too small. That track would be well under 2 minutes for the top guys.
  • + 5
 Killington has the elevation and the infrastructure. I'm hoping that they build a proper WC track from the very top. It would rival Fort Bill in length!
  • + 1
 @bikekrieg: I did the Eastern States Cup race at Killington this weekend. Killington def has the feel of a place that can host a big event and more mountain than Windham but they’d have to build a new World Cup specific track, I feel like everything was overrated for difficulty. Like black diamond runs are really just blues compared to everywhere else. I didn’t find a real WC caliber DH trail
  • + 1
 @Mattysville: I totally agree that they would need to build a new WC track. The pro GRT usually races Goat Skull, which is gnarly, but not WC caliber, or length.

Hopefully their mountain bike business becomes big enough that they'll want to invest in WC racing and shell out the UCI money.
  • + 15
 The one rock they choose to spray paint hahahah it's like an inch tall
  • + 6
 "Mike Jones has had a season to forget"-quite possibly the most raw and brutal part of this entire track walk. Course looks amazing and natural, the way all should be. going to be a good one to watch.
  • + 2
 Hopefully the coverage will be ok. I feel like we may not get the best with all the tree cover. Seems like last year's was a bit weak if I remember correctly.
  • + 5
 I rode this track once in the wet, very slowly, it’s totally mental.

Good luck ladies and gents !!
  • + 5
 "Mental" is this Rachel Atherton posting??? This would bring he mental count to 8 bazillion for 2019 Smile
  • + 7
 Can't really be totally mental, it really looks very physical also.
  • + 1
 Boys at the pits singing like ''So if you bring the sunshine, I'll bring the good times'' Big Grin
  • + 5
 Proper dh track right there
  • + 4
 This is what a DH course should be. Give me Val di Sole over Les Gets every day of the week
  • + 1
 This is one DH track I would be truly interested in riding (very very slowly). It would be so fun to pick your way down and just try to stay on the bike. I think I may be actually able to ride all of it... maybe....
  • + 2
 Despite being an hour's drive from where I will be Saturday, I won't be able to go, PORCA PUTTANA! (not translatable to English) Frown
  • + 4
 WynTV trackwalk video has been up for hour on his channel just sayin
  • + 1
 Where
  • + 1
 @maddog13: on WynTV.
  • - 3
 But then you have to listen to the "humour" of a 14 yr old boy. hard pass.
  • + 2
 I like Cathrovision trackwalk too. Spends more time finding the airs and lines that will make or break
  • + 3
 For a second I thought the super sender was from the top of the light pole and my mind was blown.
  • + 5
 Doesn't look that safe.
  • + 4
 Great pictures, as always. World Cup weekend starts now.
  • + 3
 Danny was the 2016 champ not 17
  • + 5
 Right you are - corrected now. Thank you!
  • + 2
 So much fresh moss and soil. Is this track not often ridden outside of the WC?
  • + 2
 They use to change and re-work some sections for the world cup every year. Due to its steepnes and the soil the track deteriorates very quickly. After the world cup they leave the track as it is till next event (which is the world cup...Smile ).
I ride here sometimes during summertime (I live not far from VSD) and it's always a challenge, but it's still the best (real) downhill track I've been to.
  • + 3
 This is AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Smile
  • + 3
 All my life I've been waiting for Val Di sole in the rain and mud tup
  • + 2
 Chuck a sickie and pop some tins, mate
  • + 1
 Beautiful shots. Really has me itching to get out there and shoot more!
  • + 1
 such a great DH track. Stoked for this weekend
  • + 1
 This is all very interesting but is the XC course any good?!
  • + 14
 u wot, m8?
  • + 8
 This guy
  • + 1
 Who's going to win the long jump at the end now that Kerr is out!?
  • + 1
 Dean Lucas trying out the forkless game.
  • + 0
 Is Laurie Greenland making fun of Gee's hat?
  • - 2
 Gee’s Red Bull hat lookin like a Venice beach knockoff ????

Very meta. From dad to knock off vibes.

Post a Comment



You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.024291
Mobile Version of Website