Val Di Sole DH Report

By: Colin Meagher

Start slow

Start slow

Act five, and the fat lady has sung, and like all good Italian operas, World Cup DH #5 had it all: heroes, villains, and drama.

The heroes were Ragot and Beaumont, as well as Steve Smith of MS-Evil and Andrew Neethling of Trek World Racing. The villain—or I should say, the monster—was the track here at Val di Sole. The drama was who was gonna win this sucker.

Villains first. This track is a wheel wrecking, bike hammering, rider-beating ogre. It’s destined to receive the kind of respect associated with the classic tracks known to all gravity racing mountain bike fans: Mount St Anne, Nevegal, Fort William… you get the drift.

Drama comes next. Sabrina Jonnier was a fan of this track. For whatever reason, the Frenchwoman could not find her stride on this beast.

“I do not like this track,” was the matter of fact statement Jonnier made after the race. “It is very difficult for me.”

It may have been difficult, but she still only came up +2.40 to Emmeline Ragot, locking up second place to a radiant Ragot.

“I did not have a mistake free run, that’s for sure,” said Ragot afterwards. “The track was so much rougher by this afternoon as compared to this morning. I found this to be a hard track, and I am very happy with a win.”

The podium was Ragot, Jonnier (+2.40), Tracy Moseley (+6.50), Myriam Nicole (+12.79), and Floriane Pugin (+13.67)

Mark Beaumont hasn’t had a win since Vigo, Spain, in 2007. In practice, you could tell the GT rider was feeling it, though. But coming down with the knowledge that Greg Minnaar is in the hotseat ain’t an easy place to be. But the GT rider kept focus and went for the win—plate number one in the hot seat be damned. Split one had Slugger up by a second. Split two had him by a second and a half—the gap he’d take for the win.

“I walked the track with him yesterday, and he was just so dialed,” remarked Mark Morrison, Beaumont’s mechanic. “He was showing me his lines, and he was so prepared. He really deserved this win.”

Men’s podium: Beaumont, Minnaar (+1.40), Gee Atherton (+2.66), Andrew Neethling (+3.23), and Steve Smith (+4.13); first World Cup podium for both Neethling and Smith.

Heroes. Ragot and Beaumont; second World Cup win for both riders. With the confidence such a win instills, one has to wonder: can they maintain the momentum with a three week gap until the World Cup Finals in Windham, NY?

The first course marshal was also putting in time on the side as a bouncer.

The first course marshal was also putting in time on the side as a bouncer.

Elliot Jackson traveled all the way from Thousand Oaks, Ca  with his mom and brother to Val di Sole to compete in his first World Cup. During qualifying, he broke his chain, busted a rear derailleur, and took out ten spokes. He still qualified. It helps that the track is steep, but still.

Elliot Jackson traveled all the way from Thousand Oaks, Ca with his mom and brother to Val di Sole to compete in his first World Cup. During qualifying, he broke his chain, busted a rear derailleur, and took out ten spokes. He still qualified. It helps that the track is steep, but still.

What you're looking at: Josh Bryceland's bash guard. he'd bent three during the week, so for finals, the boys put all his bash guards on his bike.

What you're looking at: Josh Bryceland's bash guard. he'd bent three during the week, so for finals, the boys put all his bash guards on his bike.

Tit for tat. During the finals, Josh did his best to break all three.

Tit for tat. During the finals, Josh did his best to break all three.

Answering the question ''exactly how many teeth does Steve Peat have?''

Answering the question ''exactly how many teeth does Steve Peat have?''

Rainy one day, dries out for two, and then you have moondust so bad riders couldn't see.

Rainy one day, dries out for two, and then you have moondust so bad riders couldn't see.

Bryn Atkinson, sorting out final line choice.

Bryn Atkinson, sorting out final line choice.

Tony Ferreiro was flying in the moon dust.

Tony Ferreiro was flying in the moon dust.

The morning practice was a bit rough for a few riders Julien Camellini got a bit close and personal with this tree.

The morning practice was a bit rough for a few riders Julien Camellini got a bit close and personal with this tree.

Justin Leov took a bit of a knock to the noggin in practice, and had to take in the finals from the local hospital, getting a full check up. When he came to, he knew he'd been riding his bike, but had no idea where, exactly, he was.

Justin Leov took a bit of a knock to the noggin in practice, and had to take in the finals from the local hospital, getting a full check up. When he came to, he knew he'd been riding his bike, but had no idea where, exactly, he was.

A too common sight here at Val di Sole as riders sorted out exactly how the f-k to get down and not break bike or body.

A too common sight here at Val di Sole as riders sorted out exactly how the f-k to get down and not break bike or body.

Sometimes you see the damndest things trackside--you'd swear you're hallucinating. I had no idea DR Suess was competing, but his wife had the dog out track side.

Sometimes you see the damndest things trackside--you'd swear you're hallucinating. I had no idea DR Suess was competing, but his wife had the dog out track side.

Flat out and pinned. Moseley railing the bottom section like a guided missile.

Flat out and pinned. Moseley railing the bottom section like a guided missile.

Ragot was feeling it today. ''I just knew I had a clean run, and I just knew.''

Ragot was feeling it today. ''I just knew I had a clean run, and I just knew.''

Duncan Riffle came in 33rd.

Duncan Riffle came in 33rd.

Lewis Buchanan is the youngest racer on the circuit-sixteen years old. He cruised across the line in... drum roll please... sixteenth.

Lewis Buchanan is the youngest racer on the circuit-sixteen years old. He cruised across the line in... drum roll please... sixteenth.

Minnnaar chasing glory through blowing smoke from the riders in front of him.

Minnnaar chasing glory through blowing smoke from the riders in front of him.

Ride 'em cowboy-Danny Hart setting down the landing gear on the drop that claimed Sam Hill two years ago.

Ride 'em cowboy-Danny Hart setting down the landing gear on the drop that claimed Sam Hill two years ago.

Gwinn was flying in the first section-split one had him in the lead-but he slipped up somewhere in the middle section. Fourteenth on the day.

Gwinn was flying in the first section-split one had him in the lead-but he slipped up somewhere in the middle section. Fourteenth on the day.

Podium virgins no more: Steve Smith and Andrew ''Needles'' Neethling taking their first big steps.

Podium virgins no more: Steve Smith and Andrew ''Needles'' Neethling taking their first big steps.

Sabrina Jonnier is almost a lock for the finals. Almost.

Sabrina Jonnier is almost a lock for the finals. Almost.

First podium, first bottle of bubbly.

First podium, first bottle of bubbly.

Men's podium.

Men's podium.

''People thought I was playing the rain game in Vigo three years ago. But I had a shit qualifying run. But here, there was no rain. I earned this win on my own.''

''People thought I was playing the rain game in Vigo three years ago. But I had a shit qualifying run. But here, there was no rain. I earned this win on my own.''

Ah, it's not every day you get hounded for autographs.

Ah, it's not every day you get hounded for autographs.

Speaking of the finals, and more specifically, the overall. No lead is truly safe for an overall World Cup win. Minnaar trails Gee Atherton by 7 points, Ragot lags behind Jonnier by only 175 points. With first two, it’s neck and neck; with the ladies, Jonnier would have to DNF to not take the overall, but stranger things have happened.

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