Photo Epic: Bataille De France - French Downhill National Championships 2020

Aug 24, 2020 at 2:16
by Nathan Hughes  

With the rainbow stripes of a male and female World Champ duo serving as a sharp reminder who's on top of the game right now, there's no doubt French DH racing is absolutely on fire. As up and coming names continue to push into the top 20 on the World Cup circuit, this will surely be remembered as a golden era for those of vertically-striped red, white and blue affiliation.

The 'Wolfpack' of Bruni-Pierron-Vergier have been forcing DH to new levels of speed and sportsmanship; three podium spots seem to be reserved as standard in elite mens series. Who exactly was the favourite for this race was anything but clear and with Myriam Nicole racing at full strength for an extended period and 2019 WC title challenger, Marine Cabirou fresh back from a shoulder injury the women's event was also far from a sure conclusion.

Always flat out, always brutally rough and rocky - French DH tracks are about as fierce as they come. Les Menuires was no less formidable. Long straights with some large gaps commenced proceedings before things steepened up just as the dust began to deepen. Numerous bus-stops with jump options quickly morphed into jagged rock gardens that had riders longing for the softer ruts of the course behind them. A couple of road gaps then spat racers out into several super-wide grass turns before a bridge and finish jump down to the line. Staying dry all weekend, the track was running at top speed, as fast and loose as the best of the World Cup tracks. Vive La France. Long live DH.

Dark skies and the push to find the extra speed on an intimidating course for riders dropping in early on finals morning.

A top weekend for Nicole this weekend, but certainly mixed fortunes for the Commencal/Muc-Off crew.
The World champ seemed to hesitate in qualifying, but came right back for the kill.

Amaury Pierron starting off a very unfortunate weekend he will want to forget; a huge crash in finals ended his French title hopes and likely any other racing for 2020.

Dylan Levesque
Thibault Laly

The ever-predatory, Remi Thirion, threading his way down the dusty chicanes.

A strong fifth-place finish for Leona Pierrini.
Laura Lohner digging into the loose dirt.

Agnes Delest with a bronze medal performance, just over 1 second ahead of Chappaz.
Salvadorian national, Mariana Salazar, on course sweeping duties over the weekend.

Melanie Chappaz strong through the rock garden and only narrowly missing out on the medals.

Marine Cabirou goes to war in the increasingly explosive Menuires dust.

Taking the top spot in qualifying, all eyes were on Cabirou to trump Nicole a second time.

That was not to be, however, and Myriam Nicole roared to victory on French rock, a substantial 3.64 seconds her advantage.

The Pierrons are one hell of a racing family. 10th place for the youngest of the trio, Antoine.

Snaking 'S's through the full-gas finish-field, down to the line.

Young enduro specialist, Antoine Vidal, keeping the DH pros on their toes with a 7th place.

Thibaut Daprela is never one to take it easy at the races but would have to settle for 5th.
Thomas Estaque with a sturdy and solid 6th.

How long before we see Baptiste Pierron on a World Cup podium alongside his brother? 4th on the day.

A high-speed fall for Amaury Pierron on his finals run took him out of contention in the top section and he was airlifted directly to hospital in Albertville. Let's hope for the best outcome. Heal up Amaury!

Hugo Frixtalon looked sharp as ever following his 2nd place last weekend, but a crash ruined his hopes of a repeat.

Gold medalist, Coulanges, on fire for Team Dorval.

Benoit Coulanges out in the moon-dust taking names in the French series.
Hopefully he can maintain this form wearing the sleeve on the World stage if we see any other racing this year.

Loic Bruni made no secret of how much he wanted the French title this weekend.

One man left on the mountain; top qualifier, Loris Vergier.

Vergier's signature, silk-smooth riding wasn't enough, despite a brilliant bottom section.

Victory is sweet for the new French king, Benoit Coulanges. Hearing his splits were down mid-run over the tannoy system he kicked things up a notch and stayed off the brakes a little extra for the win, 0.72 seconds the margin.

The freshly crowned, Nicole, with the final word on the contest. Onwards to Metabief!


  • 17 1
 That track is soooo french! (And awesome). Widely taped, wildly fast, off camber grass, sick ass rock section.

Awesome photos too.

Side note - Looks like both winners rode with smart phones in pockets of their pants? A bit surprising given that a lot of them seem to think even back protectors restrict movement. The aero loss must be immense! Wink

Congrats to all, frenchies rule this sport. FOFFAF - Federation Of French Fast As F***s.
  • 9 0
 They needed to Strava their runs to get the KOM/QOMs cred, which is all anyone cares about....
  • 1 0
I don’t know about that. If u want a Strava KOM, you gotta run a Garmin. Everyone knows they give u -10sec head start per section.
  • 5 0
 Looks like Nicole is running a larger rotor out back? Old style G2 on the front (max 203) and a centerline in the rear (max 220)
  • 5 0
 Great job, really nice pictures ! Go Coolanges :-)
  • 1 0
 amazing pictures!
  • 1 0
 These pictures are epic ! Nice Big Grin
  • 4 0
 What a Commencal domination... Congrats!
  • 3 0
 nice words and pictures Smile
  • 2 1
 New shorty in the front for Bruni.. and an unknown tire from Vergier????????‍♂️
  • 1 0
 I saw maxxis Tires on Finn Iles DH-bike at crankworxs ????????
  • 6 0
 You've got them mixed up Smile
  • 1 0
 Think bruni is on the michelin cut spike
  • 1 0
 as stated, Bruni ran cut Michelin Dh Mud tires. Vergier ran the new/proto maxxis mud tire (better pics on Vital)
  • 1 0
 c'est quoi la boite noire ou le cache au dessu de l'amorto de Loïc ? what is the black box on top of Loïc shox ?
  • 1 0
 Everyone on a Commencal except Bruni and a few others.
  • 1 0
 what are those tires on bruni's bike?
  • 1 0
 double post
  • 1 0
 Commencal everywhere !

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