Four seasons in a day? More like four seasons in an hour. Vallnord, Andorra. Home to round 4 of the UCI DH World Cup put on some crazy weather, from bright harsh sun, to snow and hail and everything in between. There was no telling what the riders would be facing when they stepped up to the start line. Would they be dealing with patchy light, or low visibility, or needing to use tear offs? It was literally a gamble.
There was a fair amount of rain over night, but the track was drying really quickly, so by the time finals rolled around there was even dust to be had. Ruts were forming, crowds were gathering, and Troy Brosnan would be the last to come down, with everything to lose.
First up was the juniors. New Zealand had one rider entered for the women, Shania Rawson. Shania was tipped to be quick, she was seen in practice before the race, but never made it to the start line. Shania has been battling with a broken wrist, and when spoken to, said that the landings on some of the bigger jumps on track were causing her a lot of pain. Hopefully we see Shania back on track next week in Lenzerheide.
In Junior men Finn Illes took the win as he usually does, however Josh Oxenham fronted up representing the New Zealand Mountain Bike Hub, and was the only New Zealander to qualify. Josh had a great debut World Cup race with a top ten finish. Can’t wait to see what he can do next week.
As the day moved on we got to elites, and Myriam Nicole pulled out a win with her team based literally over the road, to the delight of the local crowd. Tracey Hannah went down whilst pushing as hard as she could, so did Morganne Charre in a nasty way right on the finish turn. Rachel Atherton took fourth place, certainly an unfamiliar spot on the podium for her.
The elite men’s race was a real edge-of the-seat affair. The lead was changing constantly, and it seemed everyone was pushing super hard. There was a staggering amount of crashes including a pile of the top 20 qualifiers.
George Brannigan was New Zealand’s fastest qualifier, and he was on a tear, headed for the hot seat when he went down. Sam Blenkinsop was the second fastest qualifier, and the fastest Kiwi on the day, just out of the top 10, with a 12th place. At the end of the day Australian Troy Brosnan came out on top with his first win since Fort William 2014. A great day for Troy on his first year with Canyon. He was flanked on the Podium by Greg Minnaar, proving that he’s still as threatening as ever, and Danny Hart who took an early lead of over 3 seconds. Loic Bruni and Aaron Gwin rounded out the podium of big names which looked suspiciously like the overall leader board from last year.
As we move on to Lenzerheide we hope to see Shania with a comeback, and also the junior boys with a few more names in qualies. Sam Blenkinsop will be looking to improve on today’s result and George Brannigan will be searching for redemption. I’ll leave you with Kiwi wild man Eddie Masters, complete with helmet wig getting loose on the way to a very respectable 22nd, just in front of ex-team mate Rupert Chapman.