This is what we’ve all been waiting for, the first World Cup race of the season. After a 7 month hiatus the season kicked off today in Lourdes, France and it was no disappointment. Aside from the cold, snowy start to the weekend, the story was of the Santa Cruz Syndicate showing off their 29ers. Love them or hate them, we have a feeling they aren’t going anywhere after the Syndicate qualified 1st, 3rd, and 6th with their wagon wheels. The real story of the weekend however would be the weather. Having started the day with sunshine, the dark clouds began to roll in during the top 20 leaving the top 10 men with brutal racing conditions. Having come down earlier in the day, French men Alexandre Fayolle would take his first World Cup win with some help from mother nature. He put down a blistering run in the dry sunny conditions that would be unbeatable in the rain, heavy winds and low visibility the top 10 faced.
French Fans. Rowdy and as enthusiastic as can be.
The job of being a mechanic seemed far less appealing at Lourdes.
Let’s begin in the morning though where reigning junior World Champion Finn Illes took another win in the competitive Junior Men’s category, proving he’s once again the young gun to beat this season. The other juniors will have to get on it if they want to take the top step of the podium away from him.
Too much of this at Lourdes…
Kaos Seagrave is starting to put some pressure on Finn Iles.
In the end though, Finn would win by a huge spread. This kid knows how to turn it on for finals.
Continuing where she left, Rachel Atherton does the unthinkable winning the first World Cup of the season keeping her winning streak alive showing she could handle the pressure. Rach dominated the race with the fastest splits everywhere except for the bottom where second place finisher Tracy Hannah was looking strong. This is a big result for Tracy, she’ll be looking to build on this the rest of the year which finishes with World Champs in her home town Cairns, Australia. Tahnee Seagrave comes in 3rd and Myrian Nicole makes it on to the podium for the French.
All eyes on Rachel after a less than perfect qualifier.
Manon Carpenter looking for those precious seconds.
The beat on the street is that Tahnee Seagrave has been training super hard this off season….
Unfortunately for Tahnee, Rachel hasn’t let up on her training and maintains her poise. 14 World Cup wins in a row. Unbelievable dominance.
Now on to the mens race where the always enthusiastic French crowd was ready for a show. The French riders always seem to ride well and have something extra in the tank when racing in their home country. Polygon rider Alexandre Fayolle came down early in the afternoon, riding on the limit with an exciting run landing him in the hot seat where he would stay for the remainder of the race. As the riders continued down the hill they watched as the clouds moved closer and closer to Lourdes. The wind began to pick up making the top section of the track look difficult to ride. Fastest in time training, Gee Atherton came down in 10th place, not where he would want to be but setting himself up nicely in the points. Connor Fearon brought his blazing cornering speed to France, drifting inside lines and looking confident coming into the season with a 5th place finish and on the podium. Canadian Mark Wallace and Columbian Marcelo Gutierrez both had solid runs landing themselves in 2nd and 3rd behind Fayolle as the top 10 men were left on the hill.
Pondering whether these will be used or not…?
Loic the hometown favorite.
Things are looking slow at the YT pits but John Hall is likely doing work not just zoning out on his phone.
How many rear shock rebuilds went down this weekend? Probably too many to count. These things take a beating.
A far too common sight on the world cup circuit.
Plates and screws.
Marcelo’s fitness level is absurd. It’s only a matter of time until he wins a World Cup…
At this point in the race the wind was howling and the rain was heavy, leaving riders with the decision to switch from dry tires to mud spikes, with many of them sticking with what they knew, staying on drys having not ridden the track in the wet. Bernard Kerr dropped in with what looked like to be minimal visibility, not one to back down he charged the top section slipping and sliding all over the mountain. He came down the hill and described the track as “ice”. Minnaar put in a solid performance but came down well off the pace calling the race “the sketchiest run he’s ever had”. Gwin came down with a big crash catching his shoulder on a tree and going off track. He appeared to be fine though despite what looked like a gnarly crash. Next up was Danny Hart, if anyone could do it surely it was him. The track was no match for one of the best mud riders on the planet proving just how sketchy the rain had made it. Like Gwin his run ended with a crash. It now became obvious the conditions would tell the tale of the day and Fayolle would be unmatched and take the win. Bruni and Vergier looked to not want to risk a big crash and injury with a full season ahead of them. This left Alexandre Fayolle with the win in his home country of France, something a French man hasn’t done in almost 20 years.
Gee man was fast in practice, but didn’t pull it off in finals.
Connor Fearon came down as the weather broke and still managed 5th place.
Once it got bad….
It got real bad.
This feeling must be one of absolutely incredible relief, regardless of result.
Florent Payet has been around forever but recently showing his speed with amazing results last year and starting off this year well.
Relentless French Fans.
The end in sight…
Mark Wallace with a massive 2nd place result. The new Canyon team is off to a decent start…
The weather didn’t go to plan, but we see a new World Cup winner this weekend. These days it’s rare to see that.
Men’s podium. Baguettes for days…