The World Cup marches on in Val di Sole, and Tracey Hannah remains in the series lead.
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup has landed in Italy, and Val di Sole didn't quite live up to it's name early in the World Cup. The qualifying day, as is now almost traditional at the Italian round, was ravaged by thunder and lightning storms and saw big names scattered all over the time sheets.
But come race day on Saturday 3rd August, France’s Marine Cabirou and Britain’s Laurie Greenland scored a pair of debut victories. The downhill track in this northern corner of Italy is known as The Black Snake and it is famously brutal. It begins with fast, flowing turns before heading for a tree line. Once it enters the woods, the racers plummet their way down a staircase of roots.
Swiss rider Camille Balanche was the first of the elite women to really scythe her way convincingly through the woods and emerge into the famous final section with a time which looked like it would take a lot of beating.
Nina Hoffmann, the sensation of 2019, had a sizeable crash amidst the trees as did Veronika Widmann who would somehow recover to a fourth place finish. Balanche clung on to third but it was the young Frenchwoman, Cabirou, currently second in the world who would attack the most. Whilst some opted to approach Val Di Sole with caution, she threw caution to the wind with an attacking run from top to bottom which sent her into the hot seat. It was her first ever top flight win.
Tracey Hannah, the series leader, was last to drop and was precise and controlled on her way to a second position which she admitted that she was happy with.
The elite men’s hot seat was briefly held by the Austrian David Trummer who produced another spectacular run from a 2019 which only seems to be getting better and better for him.
Loris Vergier seemed to forge ultra-fast straight lines where others were being moved around and forced into errors. His time was good enough for the hot seat but was instantly under pressure when his Santa Cruz Syndicate teammate, Greg Minnaar, began turning the splits green. It wasn’t to last for the South African however when he had a relatively slow but costly crash.
France’s Loïc Bruni took to the hot seat. The series leader shrugged and hinted that he didn’t think that he’d done enough. Vergier’s run would stand up for a third place but it was Britain’s Laurie Greenland who pipped Bruni’s by a sizeable 4.88 seconds.
Amaury Pierron was up at the first split but soon started losing time to the Britain. He admitted after the race that he had struggled with his bike set up amidst the changing conditions.
The circus now moves on to Lenzerheide for the next round.