Your Essential Guide to the Vallnord DH World Cup 2016

Aug 30, 2016 at 11:00
by Fraktiv  
Is it over already? Almost. For the seventh and final stop of the 2016 UCI Mountain Biking Downhill World Cup series, we're heading to Vallnord in the principality of Andorra. Nestled in the Pyrenean mountains, the town of La Massana will be hosting what will be a victory parade for Rachel Atherton and a nail-biting race to the finish for Aaron Gwin and Danny Hart.

First visited by the UCI World Cup Downhill circus in 2008 and then again in 2009 and 2013. Vallnord took a break from the World Cup and instead hosted the World Championships last year; a race weekend that went down in the history books as one of the most thrilling races we've seen in a long while. We're now back in the home nation of Cedric Gracia and Commençal for 2016, a venue we'll be returning to in 2017 and 2018 as well.

The trail team in Vallnord has been busy making adjustments to the track since the World Champs last year and have promised some modifications, including those to a few jumps, as well as improved spectator access. We can't wait to see what's in store but in the meantime, here's all you need to know about the history and riders who have shaped this old-school/new-school race track.

Moon lift

Danny Hart shreds the morning light on the second day of beautiful weather her in Andorra.
Bros to the line

La Massana presents...


The start ramp has been elevated and steepened ready to tip racers into a 5 minute blur of exhaustion.

Not a bad view. For the riders it will all be a blur.
The final open stretch before plunging into the steep forest is peppered with angry looking rocks to shave down your treads.

The defending champ navigating some ultra-polished bedrock on a tentative TT into 3rd.


To get their view on the Vallnord track, we asked a few riders. Here's what they said:

Marcelo Gutierrez, Giant Factory Off-Road Team
Andorra could be the closest feeling to race at home since there are so many Latinos and actual Colombians around. About, I got my first top ten there! Always good memories in Andorra! Besides that, the track is awesome, one of my favorites I’d say. Looking forward for the weekend!

Tahnée Seagrave, Transition Factory Racing/FMD
I’m in luuuuuve with the Andorra race track; all the tracks should be like it! My most memorable part is the last steep chute towards the bottom, as a junior, I thought I could do the same line as Greg Minnaar but turned out I just got really injured instead, haha!

Sam Blenkinsop, Norco Factory Racing
Vallnord is just one sick track from top to bottom and it's going to be the best way to end a World Cup season; time to go hard or go home.


WC R7 Vallnord Weather 2016


WC R6 Mont Sainte-Anne Standings M 2016

For those who love the numbers, to recap on what points are on offer, they are: 1st = 200 (50), 2nd = 160 (40), 3rd = 140 (30), 4th = 125 (25), 5th = 110 (22) (points for qualifying in brackets).

With that in mind, it's going to be a tense fight for those final valuable points for the last round of the season for the Elite Men. Danny Hart will have to push the boat out and secure maximum points in qualifying and finals to allow him to even contemplate taking the overall win, but it is statistically possible. Meanwhile, Gwin will have to have a bad day in the forest to allow that to happen. Stranger things have happened, but Gwin has the experience of making it count on the final day of the season. One thing's for sure, it's going to be an amazing season finale.

WC R6 Mont Sainte-Anne Standings W 2016

With Rachel's domination all year, she bagged the series win well before the final race. However, the remaining places are still up for grabs. Could Tahnée knock Tracey out of the third spot and make it a 1-2-3 Great Britain lock-out?

Image credit: Red Bull TV


Views: 15,723    Faves: 48    Comments: 8

Cameramen in the corral, be warned! When you've got a Swede with failed breaks coming towards you, the best thing to do is to not be in his way. Easier said than done of course. Vallnord is famous for just such an incident when (in 2009), Robin Wallner went sideways into the broadcast cameraman. Both men came away with just a few grazes but the expensive broadcast camera lens was toast.


WC R7 Vallnord predictions 2016

bigquotesGwin says he goes to every race to win. He only needs to cruise the race at Vallnord and collect a few points to guarantee the overall series, and who would risk all for that? Hart will continue his charge hassle free and smooth - a man with more race experience than any other challenger has finally found what he needs to keep it close to the top. I predict Bruni will take the top step. He left Vallnord in 2015 with a gold medal and his body should be perfected after injury and his superb comeback aind Mont-Sainte-Anne. With nothing to lose in the overall, expect a flyer as we see the 'Pope' rise again.

For Elite Women, surely nobody can keep Lady Luck on their side for so long when it comes to Rachel Atherton? I think the bubble could burst with a bobble or mechanical for Atherton here in Vallnord. Carpenter will tuck behind into third but Seagrave's time will finally arrive. The critics will say 'She only won because of Rachel's mistake', but she will put down a time that would have taken top spot nonetheless. Seagrave is on form and is focused, and the shape and steep of the tax-free hillside will let her exceed. - Paul Aston, Pinkbike's World Cup Soothsayer


Back in 2008, the Athertons secured a hat-trick of wins in the inaugural UCI World Cup weekend in Andorra, with Dan winning the 4X, Rachel winning the Elite Women and Gee winning in the Elite Men.


Take a time warp to 2009 and relive the full two and a bit hour experience of the Elite Men's competition from Vallnord, thanks to the Freecaster/ archives. With Cedric Gracia out injured, the broadcasters thought it was a good idea to put him in the commentary booth with Rob Warner. Cue a torrent of Warnerisms and a very croaky CG.

With Steve Peat laying down a blistering time, his teammate Greg Minnaar could only come in third fastest behind Gee Atherton who himself missed out on the top step by 0.02 seconds. Sam Hill was the last man down the track and was on to a flyer. However, bad luck struck when he scrubbed the step-down jump and managed to crash on landing (into the snow) but then instantly got back on his bike. Below is some amateur trackside footage of the crash. Back in the finish corral, everyone waited to see where Sam was...he crossed the line in 31st after losing seven seconds in the crash. Sam's loss was Peaty's gain and with that win, the Yorkshireman took his 17th World Cup win, beating the previous record for the most World Cup wins taken by a rider in the Elite Men category.

Views: 11,944    Faves: 96    Comments: 36


relief disbelief and pure joy all rolled into one. It s a lot of emotion to handle and Loic s reaction to winning just shows how much heart and soul the top men and women put into this sport.

We can officially call Loic the peoples champion.

It goes without saying that Vallnord must be a pretty special place for Loïc Bruni, given it was the venue of his first World Championship win in 2015. Finally, the Frenchman managed to secure a clean run, despite a season of being so close to taking a World Cup win. We all knew it was on the cards but Loïc left it to the last race of the international calendar to make it happen. Neither Brosnan or Gwin could beat Loïc; Aaron was the last man down the mountain but a mistake and a crash off-camera meant he wasn't able to prevent the Frenchman from fulfilling what his fans had been hoping for all season long.


Zarja Cernilogar does her utmost not to clash on track. Representing the Slovenian contingent she wrenches for herself and bagged another top ten this afternoon after two out of two in Scotland and Italy.

Zarja the charger Cernilogar hasn t made it to many World Cups this year but 10th today shows she still well up to speed with the big girls. Look out for her hair-handlebar color-match repping Slovenia at Worlds.

Without a doubt, 2016 has been a bleak year for our community, and with the sudden passing of Zarja Černilogar last week, we again mourn another rider lost. Although Zarja had been out of the World Cup circuit for most of the 2016 season, the five-time Slovenian national champion was planning to return at the World Champs. Back in 2013, Zarja was her own mechanic and secured 9th spot in qualifying at Vallnord, although sadly a crash saw her finish 18th. With several top 20 finishes subsequent to that, we were all waiting to see when, not if, she would grab her first World Cup podium spot.

You'll be missed Zarja.


2015*1stLoic BRUNIFrance4:19.585-
2015*2ndGreg MINNAARSouth Africa4:21.950+2.365s
2015*3rdJosh BRYCELANDGreat Britain4:24.361+4.776s
20131stRemi THIRIONCommencal Riding Addiction4:13.666-
20132ndGee ATHERTONGT Factory Racing4:15.016+1.350s
20133rdSam HILLCRC Nukeproof4:15.422+1.756s
20091stSteve PEATSanta Cruz Syndicate2:22.050-
20092ndGee ATHERTONAnimal Commencal2:22.070+0.020s
20093rdGreg MINNAARSanta Cruz Syndicate2:23.460+1.410s
20081stGee ATHERTONAnimal Commencal2:35.35-
20082ndSam HILLMonster Energy Racing2:35.66+0.31s
20083rdGreg MINNAARSanta Cruz Bikes2:36.73+1.38s

Mens podium.


2015*1stRachel ATHERTONGreat Britain5:08.488-
2015*2ndManon CARPENTERGreat Britain5:11.726+3.238s
2015*3rdTracey HANNAHAustralia5:11.726+3.238s
20131stRachel ATHERTONGT Factory Racing4:47.778-
20132ndManon CARPENTERMadison Saracen Factory Team4:49.395+1.617s
20133rdMyriam NICOLECommencal Riding Addiction4:59.228+11.450s
20091stSabrina JONNIER-2:41.580-
20092ndEmmeline RAGOT-2:45.450+3.870s
20093rdTracy MOSELEY-2:45.470+3.890s
20081stRachel ATHERTONAnimal Commencal2:55.30-
20082ndSabrina JONNIER-2:35.66+8.47s
20083rdFloriane PUGIN-3:07.11+11.81s

Your three fastest ladies and their shiny new jewelry.

Note: * denotes UCI World Championship race.


The finals take place on Saturday, the 3rd of September, with the live broadcast commencing at 14:30 local/Andorra time (13:30 BST).

Stay tuned to throughout the weekend for all the latest news from the seventh and final round of the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup 2016, including live timing from timed training and qualifiers, as well as photo stories and tech content.

MENTIONS: @geebeebee / @natedh9 / @paulaston / @mdelorme / @davetrump / @meagerdude / @redbullbike / @tahneeseagrave


  • 54 2
 I just wanna watch Danny Hart get loooooose....
  • 21 0
 Hope he keeps his shirt on!
  • 22 3
 Daaaaaaaaaaammmnnn Daniel
  • 31 10
 I just wanna watch girl on girl porn while eating a big block of Swiss cheese.
  • 4 6
 @Rocky-Urban: f*ckin eh man
  • 2 7
flag loopie (Aug 30, 2016 at 18:09) (Below Threshold)
 @Rocky-Urban: ..Mmmmmm, cheese.
  • 7 10
 @Tmackstab: 'if I had a million dollars I'd do 2 chick's at the same time'
  • 2 9
flag siongwynn (Aug 30, 2016 at 23:35) (Below Threshold)
 @makripper: f*ckin A, man
  • 5 11
flag WAKIdesigns (Aug 31, 2016 at 3:58) (Below Threshold)
 @makripper: 2 girls man - that's risky... What if you fail already with the first one? I'd buy some Rhino 69 or Tiger 5000 dick pills, just to get some margin...
  • 2 7
flag makripper (Aug 31, 2016 at 4:53) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: it's pretty much guaranteed to happen unless I can have multiple takes like Peter north.
  • 43 0
 came as a fan to get info on the race, then read that I missed my start in 2009....yeah, that never happened hey..... I have too many recurring nightmares about doing dumb shit like that, for that to ever happen. Where you getting your info from PB?
  • 9 0
 Sorry Jared, info retrieved from a Pinkbike race report from that year. Obviously someone was telling porkies!
  • 1 0
 I hope you have the chance to race and another world champs Jared! You kick ass!
  • 6 0
 @geebeebee: no dramas, just playing. A bolt snapped on my rear end as I pedalled out of the gate, which essentially left my bottom bracket dragging the floor, Pulled off at the bottom of the ramp, ultimate anticlimax!
So I can see why someone would think i missed my start when i only made it 3 meters, then peeled off back to the pits
  • 36 2
 I know that it is boring to predict that Rachel will win... but Of course she'll win? Why wouldn't she win? She's been like 12 seconds up in every race. She's the greatest/most consistent DH racer we've ever seen. She's a force of nature.

Luck has nothing to do with it.
  • 1 0
 she should just style out all of the course.
  • 24 2
 I see rain on the forcast... DANNY HART
  • 14 2
  • 2 0
 @RedBurn: most legendary commentary ever. Even better that Steve Peats winning run at the worlds. And that shit was crazy
  • 4 0
 @leopaul: I miss those days of WC bull has really watered it down.

We traded content for quality of footage...I think I'd take low-def footage if I had the choice.
  • 20 0
 stevie smith at 1.31.22 RIP brotha
  • 1 0
 Pedaling in the woods ... Woaw!! Ride in Peace Legend
  • 13 1
 I love Claudio but please bring CG in the comment boot. And let Rob do his thing without filter, that race right here was one of the most exciting i've seen so far and it's mainly because of the commentary.
  • 7 1
 Agreed ! Claudio s course reviews are amazing because he s himself 100%. While commentating he's not... CG!!
  • 14 4
 Everyone loves Danny he will rip up the track in the rain and winn the overall. So consistent this season
  • 41 13
 No way, Gwin's got this year in the bag.
  • 27 58
flag colincolin (Aug 30, 2016 at 14:39) (Below Threshold)
 @therealtylerdurden: Sorry not even Gwin can make your country great again.
  • 37 10
 GWIN 4 the win! U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.!
  • 17 8
 @colincolin: @colincolin: dewsche. Is that how you sprechan ze dick?
  • 5 4
 @colincolin: what a douchebag thing to say man. Don't judge a book by its cover and all that.
  • 5 24
flag Beez177 (Aug 30, 2016 at 22:31) (Below Threshold)
 @colincolin: f*ck you nazi a*shole
  • 10 1
 @Beez177: Dude, with that comment you are winning the debate for the other side.

What would Gwin do?
  • 8 5
 @charlielynes: what debate? I was obviously trolling.
f*ck Dolan Dump, f*ck Killary Clitton, f*ck Angie Merkelmore, f*ck Vladi Putain.
Let's ride bikes and not be butthurt.
  • 4 3
 Gwin cuz Brexit
  • 3 1
 @colincolin: Now that I like.. Smile
  • 2 6
flag Beez177 (Aug 31, 2016 at 5:56) (Below Threshold)
 @charlielynes: I call them like I see them I don't care what people think. I see an a*shole
  • 11 6
 I don't know why these articles are entitled "Essential Guides", when most of the info, other than who is in the hunt for points, is retrospective. An Essential Guide would have info on this year's track and race... while awesome to have all of this background in one place, next season Pinkbike should consider renaming these articles.
  • 3 1
 From an analytical standpoint this would be bad ass. I remember vital doing something like that a couple seasons ago. Length and average pitch of track, details about tech sections and challenges as well as who as of now seems to have the needed skills to do the best on the track.
  • 7 1
 Cmon Danny! And the girls! Lay down a scorcher for the Brits! Continue our winning spree after the Olympics! :-)
  • 6 0
 what's wrong with rachel...did she really miss 30 points out of 1500? shame on you!
  • 7 1
 free caster coverage was so good, go to to see all the riders, loose warner. red bull can suck it
  • 6 0
 Aston you crazy man- Atherton is gonna crush it again!
  • 5 0
 Love Tahnee's comment and the attitude she must have towards riding!
  • 5 3
 Almost over? I've had a hard time getting back into it after Stevie........... Seems like the race season dragged on and on...... Time will heal and a new Canadian superhero will arrive, but nobody will take his place.
  • 2 0
 i can't think of a better season finale than on the two most demanding, old school, brutal and steep tracks of the circus. Andorra and Val Di Sole are BY FAR my most favourite tracks...and not only mine i guess.
  • 4 0
 Why does 2008 look like 1992?
  • 1 0
 do you remwmber when the year 2000 was far in the future? and everybody was telling stories about how it would be (flying cars, aliens, etc)? well, the 2000 was 16 years ago, kids who where born that year now are driving cars
  • 1 1
 I'm going to be a pedantic pain in the butt for a moment. Regarding Hart's chances to take the overall it states "it is statistically possible". It would be more appropriate to say it is b>mathematically/b> possible. Math says it's possible statistics says it's extremely unlikely.

What is up with Aston's Predictions? Picking anyone but Rachel for the win? it's like he wants to be wrong. Go for the perfect season Rachel! Next year qualifying in the top spot AND winning every race.
  • 3 0
 the cameras on phones used to be terrible
  • 4 1
 No words about Remy Thirion ... cmon Pinkbike!
  • 2 0
 Sam Hill = balls of steel. The rest of us would need a month of recovery and whining before getting back on a bike
  • 2 0
 Dunno what to say, so let the boys play! An i hope team Y.T takes it all the way! This will be an amazing finale...........
  • 2 0
 2009.... freecaster ! ohhh I miss those days ! and Rob drinking and burping LIVE ! CG #1 :0
  • 2 0
 loic's history might repeat itself this year
  • 2 0
 Andorra 2016: no Sam Hill.
  • 2 0
 I'm tipping Sam Hill for the win, with Drew Bezanson as a close 2nd.
  • 1 0
 WTF? Did everyone forget Brosnan?? Coming off a win in Whistler........he's my pic to fly under the radar!!!
  • 1 0
 Nobody just cruises into 5th place in a World Cup, which is what Gwin needs to do to insure the overall win.
  • 2 1
 Commencal releasing new bike?
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 What happened to Randoms articles? Used to be my favorites.
  • 2 1
 Will Bryceland show up this round?
  • 6 0
 Doubt it. He has to re-examine his priorities. I don't think you can be a hard core partier and a top level WCupper anymore. Moderation in partying, full-bore in training.
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike. You spelled it 'breaks'...I'm appalled
  • 1 0
 I'm in luuuuuve with you!
  • 1 0
 Go USA Aaron Gwin you rock.
  • 3 2
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