Lourdes, France, once again did not disappoint, hosting a rowdy opening round to the UCI World Cup Downhill season for the second year in a row. Rain leading up to the final races made for a constantly changing track, which became both drier and rougher as the day went on. Finn Iles started his season off with a first-place finish in the Junior class, 1.5 seconds ahead of Madison Saracen’s Matt Walker. Unpredictability wouldn’t keep Rachel Atherton from continuing her dominance over the rest of the top women, as she finished with 4 seconds to spare in front of Tahnee Seagrave, who finished 6 seconds ahead of third-place-finisher Manon Carpenter.
There was no shortage of excitement in the battle amongst the men. Aaron Gwin relieved any doubts about his adjustment to his new program with YT, finishing 2.5 seconds ahead of Stevie Smith, who looks to be back up to speed after a string of injuries.
The last racer to drop in, Loic Bruni was the only person on the hill who had the pace to top Gwin’s time. A wild run had the 2015 World Champion ahead by about 2 seconds, but a hard compression in the lower part of the track caused him to loose control and sent him to the ground. This would have been Bruni’s first World Cup victory, and if his speed today is any indication, he won’t have to wait too much longer to stand on the top step.
Watch the full replay at redbull.com.