Photos: La Bresse World Cup Finals

Steve Peat delivered an amazing performance in La Bresse. All week, in training and practice runs, he appeared determined to win this race. And as he blasted toward the finish, the crowd began to feel it. The volume of their cheers increased. Peaty had delivered a clean run so far, but more than one racer had been undone charging full-tilt through the bomb holes littering the bottom of the track. But as Peaty crossed the finish line, there it was: 2:07.14. Win number 16 for the old man. Absolute bedlam ensued. It was an incredible win for Peaty, and a historic moment for the sport; Steve Peat had just tied Nicolas Vouilloz for sixteen World Cup wins.
“To tell the truth, I hadn’t really thought about that until a few minutes after the race,” mused Peaty. “Feels quite nice to do that on French soil, you know.”

Indeed. It’s good to be the king.

For the day, rain was predicted to start mid-afternoon, about halfway through the men’s field. And on a short, technical track like this, even the tiniest mistake can mean the difference between being on or off the podium. Add rain to the mix, and you can easily see an upside down set of results with the top racers getting hosed by the weather. So as practice finished under sunny skies, most everyone relaxed. The mood around the mid-track beer garden was downright festive. Then again, it was a beer garden…. But as the clock ticked toward the start of the women’s race, the sky began to take on a distinctly ominous appearance.

The women’s race started with no rain, and the course remained dry. As racers started down the track, the crowd began to get into it. It began with the course marshal’s shrill whistles, then turned into a mutter, then a muted roar, and finally, as the truly fast women began to drop down the course, a raging crescendo.

There wasn’t too much drama, though. The main question in most fans’ minds was could Trek World’s Tracy Moseley take another victory. But she finished almost five seconds slower than race winner, Sabrina Jonnier of Rocky Mountain Maxxis.

“I was playing it too conservative up top, really,” admitted Moseley, who finished second. “On a short track like this, you just can’t do that. Plus there were lots of little mistakes. And again, on a short track like this, there’s simply no margin for error.”

The women’s podium ended up Sabrina Jonnier, who finished in 02:28.57, followed by Tracy Moseley, 02:33.59; Myriam Nicole, 02:34.78; Mio Suemasa, 02:35.36; and Emmeline Ragot, 02:35.89. Melissa Buhl took eighth place.

Tracy Moseley continues to lead in the overall.

For the men’s race, it was rolling thunder on the course, but thankfully the weather held up. Kyle Strait, racing on the World Cup for the first time this year, was one of the early racers down the course, but he delivered a smoking fast time of 02:12.33. He held the hot seat for what seemed like an eternity, until Justin Leov of the Trek World team, 32 riders later, bested Strait’s run by a mere 00.05 seconds.

From there, despite on-and-off rain showers, times continued to drop, usually by a few hundredths of seconds. Until Brendan Fairclough came roaring across the line with a 02:09.99, a full second and change ahead of former teammate Greg Minnaar. And it would be good enough to keep him in the hot seat for, oh, exactly four minutes twenty seconds and fifty-six hundredths of a second. Which is how long after Brendog finished that teammate Sam Hill scorched the line with a 02:08.41—more than a full second ahead of Fairclough. Next came Mick Hannah. No dice. Then Gee Atherton. Again, no dice. All eyes went to the Jumbotron: Peaty was on track. The rest is history.

The crowd and fellow racers mobbed Peaty as soon as he crossed the finish line. People talk about his age all the time, but the 35-year-old racer is proof that that age is just a number.

Peaty took the top spot on the podium with an official time of 02:07.14, followed by Sam Hill, 02:08.41; Mick Hannah, 02:09.00; Brendan Fairclough, 02:09.99; and Gee Atherton, 02:11.15. With the win, Peaty takes the World Cup overall leader’s jersey.

How amazing was this win? The words of Gee Atherton sum it up: “Absolutely mental, man.”