Your Essential Guide to the Val di Sole DH World Cup 2017

Aug 23, 2017 at 16:17
by Fraktiv  

Welcome to the final World Cup race of the season.

At the last race in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, it rained, it poured, and we all thought it was all over. It looked like we were in store for Lourdes 2.0; a damp squib of a race. And then out of nowhere, Jack Moir turned the tables on Mother Nature, finding race speed where others had failed before him. He put the scares on his teammate Dean Lucas who was sitting pretty in the hot seat after completing his run in fairer weather earlier on. Moir set his rivals at the top of the mountain something to aim for, but would they be able to do any better? Shaw, Hart, Minnaar, Bruni, all took to the river-like track. None of them were able to come close, and Minnaar lost valuable points in the process after going off track in the slippery conditions, eventually succumbing to a disqualification. Was it going to be Lucas's day?

One rider. One solitary figure up top, was the final challenger. The Starbucks-loving American took to the track and it wasn't long before the timing screens were being lit up in green. It looked like Gwin was doing the impossible and actually gaining time on the rain-soaked track. He managed to keep it all together, few mistakes, no mechanicals, just pure speed and determination. He crossed the line, the crowd was screaming, and his fellow riders were in awe of what had just happened. With just over a second between him and Lucas, Gwin had laid down one of the most incredible runs in the history of mountain biking, worthy of mention alongside Danny Hart's legendary Champéry Worlds run in 2011. Another legendary tale from the historic Mont-Sainte-Anne track.

In the Elite Women's race earlier in the day, and in fairer conditions, we saw a victorious Seagrave conquer a track where she hadn't ever had much luck... until now. Nicole played it safe and didn't drop the final jump into the finish line (not surprising after suffering a big crash there before), but secured second place. Meanwhile, Hannah looked like she was on a roll but a flat tire towards the end of her race left her in third place. Switzerland's on-form Siegenthaler took fourth, ahead of save-of-the-century Atherton by a small margin, but a margin nevertheless.

After one of the most challenging races for years, we wondered whether things could get any more dramatic, but then again this weekend we are heading to one of the most revered downhill mountain bike race tracks on the current circuit, perhaps even in the history of the sport; Val di Sole.

This track is a mean beast. It takes no prisoners, and that's why with just a few points separating the top riders in Elite Men and Women for the final fight for the overall 2017 World Cup crown, this weekend is going to be an edge-of-your-seat race.

Tahnee Seagrave roaring to victory for the second time in her young career. 5.7 seconds is a big one.
To the victor go the spoils. Congrats Tahnee Seagrave.

The crowd was electric as Gwin roared into the finish arena on what looked to be an impossible and wining run.

Gwin sheds the bike to celebrate in the still pouring rain.
Aaron Gwin just upped his legend status a few notches in Mont Sainte Anne.

The track

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

Welcome to the Italian woods pretty scenic is you have time to look around on your descent.
One of the tame sections of the track where the riders will get a break.

Greg Williamson drops into the steepest part of the track in Val di Sole.
That huge booter half way down that was make brake or break for the riders last year.

Jack Moire sends it off the top road gap for team Straya.

Named the Black Snake, the downhill World Cup track at Val di Sole is one of the most technically demanding tracks seen on the World Cup calendar. Starting at a height of 1,400m, the the Black Snake descends 600m to the finish line, with an average gradient of 22%, with up to 40% in some sections. That might seem okay at normal speeds but at race speed over a terrain covered in angry looking roots and hidden boulders, it's something else.

Although one of the most gruelling tracks around, the riders seem to love it; from the fast flowing section at the start, into a road gap and jumps, the track heads into the the woods. Here, in the dappled light, riders uncover a host of rocks and roots. Like threading the eye of a needle, this section of the track requires exquisite precision, strength, and persistence. Since last year, which saw Val di Sole host the World Champs, the track has been modified slightly, with the addition of a few more turns before the final section of track begins. Before the finish line, riders reach 'The Hell'. This section hasn't been changed at all; a wall of rocks and roots just before the Pippo Jump (named after the trail designer). This track is the essence of downhill racing at its finest.

What happened last year?

Aaron Gwin flipping the warp switch up above the woods.

Greg Minnaar squashes the big step-down.
Loris showed flashes of brilliance this season but his hopes to end 2016 with a World Championship medal when down in a blaze of glory today.

The 2016 Worlds at Val di Sole was a humdinger of a race. Red flags were foisted left, right, and center as rider after rider crashed on the blown out, dusty Italian track. Val di Sole has a history of being rough as hell, but last year it reminded us what that really meant.

In Elite Men, we saw the likes of Tom Bersselaar (huge crash and KO'd), Eliot Jackson (crash and stretchered off), Dean Lucas (through the tapes at the boulder section), Brook MacDonald (sideways over the rocks and into spectators), Loris Vergier (slips off bike in rock garden), Johannes Fischbach (crash and no front brake to the finish line), and Loïc Bruni (flat tyre) all come a cropper in the finals. It was Danny Hart who secured the benchmark time which put him in the hot seat ahead of his teammates Laurie Greenland and Florent Payet. With just two riders to go, could Danny clinch another gold World Champs medal? Troy Brosnan was up next and the splits showed he was 2.8s back. It wasn't going to be his day, but what about Gwin, could he get that elusive World Championship win? History tells us it wasn't his day, dropping 1.5s back in the early stages, then landing heavily on a hidden boulder, ripping his rear tyre off its rim. His race was over, and Danny Hart was duly crowned the 2016 Champion.

In the Elite Women's race, Rachel Atherton topped off an incredible 2016 season by taking her fourth World Championship gold medal. Atherton, despite making a mistake in the woods, crossed the line three seconds up on Myriam Nicole, who had sat in the hot seat while the likes of Seagrave and Hannah tried to beat her time. Carpenter, who had qualified in second place the day before, had a massive crash on the first big left-hand turn. She walked away but had to look on as her compatriot Atherton, last on track, took the win, the gold medal, and the rainbow jersey.

Tickets please

Mariana Salazar kicks off the action with some quality early morning airtime.

If you want to watch the race in person, tickets cost €15 and include access to the race, the pits, the expo area, and the grandstands. The ticket also includes a lift pass for the gondola. Children under eight years of age get free admission. If you want to upgrade, a two-day VIP ticket, which gives you access to the VIP area (including catering service), reserved seating in the grandstands, and reserved parking, as well as everything else a normal ticket gives you will set you back €150. The ticket is valid for both the Downhill and XC race the following day. You can get your tickets in person by visiting the Daolasa ticket office.

The weather forecast

Essential Guide to Val di Sole World Cup DH 2017 - Weather Forecast

Current standings

Elite Women

WC R6 Mont Sainte-Anne Standings W 2017

Elite Men

WC R6 Mont Sainte-Anne Standings M 2017

The points on offer for the final weekend are: 1st = 200 (50), 2nd = 160 (40), 3rd = 140 (30), 4th = 125 (25), 5th = 110 (22), and so on (points for qualifying in brackets). For full details see page 65 in the UCI Cycling regulations.


Essential Guide to Val di Sole World Cup DH 2017 - Aston s Predictions

bigquotesThe curtain is coming down on one of, if not the closest seasons in DH history. Brosnan, Minnaar, Hart, and Gwin could all take this one. But I think Gwin's all-out speed, commitment, and built up frustration of bad luck and mistakes over the season will drive him to take the win. Minnaar is going to be pushed off the top step by milliseconds, and Brosnan will be close behind in third. Unless that is, Hart or Greenland flick the crazy switch and pull off something unreal.

Atherton's adrenaline is probably still pumping from her super save in Mont-Sainte-Anne, which might give her an advantage with her fight-or-flight mode already engaged. Her shoulder should be getting closer to full health, but the other women are pushing hard. I think Seagrave is going to pull another win out of the bag, with Hannah charging into second, determined to build form for the World Championship in Cairns.
Paul Aston, Pinkbike's World Cup Predictionator

Previous podiums


WC R7 Val di Sole Historic Results W 2017


WC R7 Val di Sole Historic Results M 2017

Champagne for the champs. What a way to wrap up an exciting season.
The lads enjoy the bubbly.


Time to tune in

Fresh off the hill from Crankworx Whistler, Pinkbike will be providing you with the best daily coverage from our hardworking team of photographers in Val di Sole this week. There’ll be the usual stunning photo epics from practice on Thursday, qualifying on Friday, and finals on Saturday, as well as tech reports and WynTV throughout the weekend. View the full rundown of the racing schedule.

For the Elite Women and Elite Men finals, you can watch the action live on Pinkbike via Red Bull TV, or via a local broadcaster (e.g. The Bike Channel in the UK) from 13:00 local time/CEST on Saturday 26th August (12:00 BST // 04:00 PDT // 07:00 EDT // 21:00 AEST // 23:00 NZST).

A flat for Loic put him out of the running but we can t wait to see him back to his winning ways next season.

MENTIONS: @fraktiv / @natedh9 / @paulaston / @davetrumpore / @mdelorme / @tahneeseagrave / @AaronGwin1


  • 53 5
 it really is Gwinn's to lose (as much as I hate to say it) as this track is way more suited for him...but damnnnnnn.....wouldn't it be great for GM to take the title...for my country and for all the old farts out there who think you cant be competitive over 30
  • 10 0
 Would love to see another one from Minnaar, but if Gwin gets a run in without a mechanical or crash he's gonna win.
  • 5 0
 Remember how fast troy was here in 2015 .
  • 4 0
 Both of them are so insane... seems like every track suits them!
  • 7 0
 GM is a new man this year with the introduction of the 29'er. He even said it himself that he wishes they would have come earlier in his career. I'm rooting for either one of them to take the title. Get that popcorn ready folks!!!
  • 10 2
 THIS is what makes a race season Rememberable! Much like in Gee and Smith fighting for the #1-
Who ever comes down faster wins the over all-
What a season! All 3 top guys are great people and I won't be bummed to see a 29er win the overall-
  • 0 7
flag racecase (Aug 24, 2017 at 8:51) (Below Threshold)
 THIS is what makes a race season Rememberable! Much like in Gee and Smith fighting for the #1-
Who ever comes down faster wins the over all-
What a season! All 3 top guys are great people and I won't be bummed to see a 29er win the overall-
  • 0 7
flag racecase (Aug 24, 2017 at 8:51) (Below Threshold)
 THIS is what makes a race season Rememberable! Much like in Gee and Smith fighting for the #1-
Who ever comes down faster wins the over all-
What a season! All 3 top guys are great people and I won't be bummed to see a 29er win the overall-
  • 0 7
flag racecase (Aug 24, 2017 at 8:52) (Below Threshold)
 THIS is what makes a race season Rememberable! Much like in Gee and Smith fighting for the #1-
Who ever comes down faster wins the over all-
What a season! All 3 top guys are great people and I won't be bummed to see a 29er win the overall-
  • 6 1
 ^^^ I love my mac :*( oops X4
  • 1 0
 Gwin will be 30 in december...Smile
  • 25 0
 Love that the only way to get an accurate points ranking is a screen grab from the end of Red Bull's MSA coverage! Not gonna find it on the UCI site, tried it myself and found some mystery numbers--copay $ remaining until deductible is met, or something.
  • 29 0
 The UCI site is so horrible... hard to believe that haven't figured out how put together an easy-to-navigate website. Wait, what am I saying? Their website fits them perfectly.
  • 8 0
 I feel you man, tried to find WC point standings on UCI homepage yesterday to explain my excitement to a couple of buddies, ended up saying something like "well, they are sort of really close"
  • 2 0
 could not agree more. Also try searching for the points breakdown for qualifying results...almost impossible
  • 1 0
 Couldn't agree more, I was going insane not being able to figure it out. Glad it's not me.
  • 3 0
 The UCI is vaguely aware they even have mountain biking. It's all about the dope show road raging.
  • 4 0
 Agree, UCI website is a complete waste of time. Here's a cool calculator I found where you can play around with all the possible outcomes:
The link is from this article:
  • 2 0
 @Robmaranda: The fact that this [spreadsheet] is a thing is just stupid.
  • 10 2
 I reckon Troy deserves to take the overall! He's such a hard worker and always up there in the standings. Seems like a good fella too..
  • 1 0
  • 28 1
 Are you sure it's that and nothing to do with the Australian flag by your name? Wink
  • 6 1
 Really rooting for Tracey for the women's overall. The men's? Well I like Greg AND Aaron, so I'll just say Gwinnaar and that'll cover both bases...
Gonna be an awesome weekend.
  • 1 0
 watch them finish with the exact same time
  • 5 0
 Most. Exciting. Season. Ever. And baby it all comes down to this!
  • 1 0
 yes it is
  • 1 0
 Gotta root for Tracy on this one. I don't think Rachel is gonna be completely back up to her fearless graceful form just yet. She'll be back though no doubt to remind everyone of who she is. She was sick most of 2014 and didn't win. Then we all know what happened after that. As far as men goes it's up for grabs. The goat is calm and collected as usual Gwin with his usual irrepressible optimism. It's anybody's to win. Gonna be heel of a ride for sure. Can't wait.
  • 1 0
 Still an enticing prediction @paulaston

Gwin 1. and Minnaar in 2. means the seeding run decides the Worldcup overall. If Minnaar qualifies first, then a second place in the race run is enough for the GOAT to clinch the title.
  • 1 0
 Minaar was fastest in trainging. Gwin (as per usual) stopped for a latte or something.
  • 6 3
 Take this one home for us Gwin!
  • 4 3
 Paul Aston's mathematics is dismal, how is Hart still in it when he's 291 points down with a max of 250 available for the weekend?
  • 7 0
 Simple. He said Hart (and Greenland) are in with a chance of winning the race. They are his race predictions, not the overall predictions.
  • 3 0
 I bet Aaron Minnaar takes it
  • 1 0
 My money's on Hart and I don't think you can put Gwins run in MSA in the same league as harts champery win, 12 seconds was a huge margin, with a whip for good measure!
  • 1 0
 23 point separating Gwin from Minnar. Gwin needs to finish 2nd ahead of Minnar to guarantee the WC title. Soooooo close! This is how a series should end.
  • 2 0
 Troy's still in with a real chance, 250 points up for grabs..
  • 1 0
 If Troy wins qualis and raceday, does he have a chance at the overall? Because I hope he does.
  • 2 1
 Yes. And he will.
  • 3 0
 did steve peat retire?
  • 1 0
 What's with the yellow number plates for the syndicate?
  • 1 0
 Pretty sure the yellow plate means they're top of the team rankings
  • 1 0
 @Smevan: Thanks, man. I wasn't aware they did team rankings....
  • 1 0
 No problem. No-one seems to really worry that much about team rankings anyway, unless they're leading
  • 2 1
 Allez Pompon.
  • 2 2
 Go on Danny Hart sooooon!

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