Downhill qualifying went smoothly. Yesterday’s rain was greeted by beaming sunshine this morning that quickly dried the track. Riders got their lines dialed in short order during the morning’s practice and were full ‘pinner’ by the time qualifying came ‘round.
Sabrina Jonnier was not liking the track, and was working hard to get her line choice dialed in for some of the trickier sections. She was first off, but her time held for less than a minute; that’s when fellow Frenchwoman Emmeline Ragot, the third rider off, lowered the bar by nearly 9 seconds. Two riders later, Tracy Moseley of Trek came in nearly 5 seconds up over Jonnier. This is just qualifying, but it does offer some World Cup points, not that Jonnier’s strangle-hold on the women’s overall is in any danger. Just the same, look for Jonnier to go digging for lost seconds on Sunday. Florian Pugin and Myriam Nicole were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Gee Atherton had a smoking qualifying run over World Cup points leader Greg Minnaar (Minnaar was fifteenth and nearly 10 seconds down), but barely edged out a blazing fast Sam Blenkinsop (+.81). Aaron Gwin qualified third at +1.21, followed immediately by Josh Bryceland (+2.76)—after failing to qualify in Champery; Bryceland no doubt felt the need to perform. Andrew Neethling rounded out the top five.
In an interesting note, by taking the pole position for qualifying, Gee is the virtual points leader over Minnaar for the World Cup overall by some 27 points. A win here will have the Commencal rider firmly in the driver’s seat for Windham.
In the Four Cross qualifying, not a whole lot happened, as riders take to the track solo for seeding and gate choice. Roger Rinderknecht perhaps surprised himself by edging out Jared Graves, but Anneke Beerten surprised no one by taking the qualifying “win”.