The penultimate round of the UCI downhill World Cup took place in La Bresse, France, over the weekend where Joe Smith finished 15th, Lewis in 21st (and the fastest Junior), Matt Simmonds took 25th and Matti a disappointing 59th.
Checkout the CRC/Nukeproof La Bresse story courtesy of the nice chaps at www.mtbcut.tv
Returning to the World Cup circuit after a two year break, La Bresse makes for a perfect race venue with the finish line and team pits right in the centre of town. Thousands of spectators are free to walk through the pits having a look at all the race bikes, getting autographs from the riders and fully lining the track during the race from top to bottom.
It’s not the longest track in the world, but La Bresse packs in plenty of high-speed, technical and jump sections along the 505 metre course where the fastest men were posting times just over two minutes. The top of the track is flat out straight out of the big wooden start ramp, dropping riders onto the track which then winds down the open piste with some good jumps, natural compressions and big holes. Following a drop into a steep wide section with multiple line choices, the course gets a lot more tricky and technical, with riders having to be spot on with their line choice and carrying as much speed as possible without running wide on any of the tech sections.
The final section of the track drops down a big steep section with rocks, drops and big compressions. A high speed finish launches riders into one big double jump before the finish line that you can’t afford not to clear.
With the largest male field of the year so far, over 240 riders tried to qualify for the top-80 Finals places. Only 12 seconds separated first and 80th place in Saturday’s fast and furious quali session, and all Team CRC/Nukeproof riders made it through – Lewis Buchanan had another great run in 16th, Matt Simmonds in 28th and both Matti Lehikoinen and Joe Smith in the top 40.
The weather was always going to play a large part in La Bresse, and sure enough the heavens opened on Saturday night and continued until Sunday morning turning the track into a totally different beast. With everyone back on with mud tyres, the race kicked off.
Team Manager Nigel Page said: “The track was actually starting to dry up a little by the time the men’s race started at 2.00pm but half way through the rain started to come down again making the track slippy and a little slower as riders were having to use tear-offs on their goggles and struggling to beat the times of the fastest riders that had been down before the extra rain. Then the rain stopped once again for the last riders down.”
Matti Lehikoinen unfortunately had the worst of the weather and had a nightmare of a run fighting with his goggles and tear offs, losing vital seconds on a few parts of the track placing him in a disappointing 59th place. Nigel commented: “This was a real shame as Matti was looking really fast in practice, but that is racing sometimes and the luck is just not with Matti at the moment.”
Matt Simmonds had a solid run with the seventh fastest first split time, 16th on the second split and ended up 24th for the day with a big mistake in a corner on the bottom section losing some vital time. It was a good result for Matt who is returning to the top 20 after his early season injury.
Lewis Buchanan – who came down in the rain – had an amazing run considering the conditions, placing 21st for the day and the fastest Junior. It was a great confidence boost for Lewis leading up to the World Cup finals and his goals for the Junior World Championships in September.
Joe Smith finally had a good solid run that he’s just been missing out on so far this year, placing 15th.
Nigel Page congratulated all the riders, saying: “Greg Minnaar took the win today with Gee Atherton second, Aaron Gwin in third, Fabien Barel fourth and Cameron Cole rounding out the fifth and final place on the men’s podium, so well done to all those riders.
Tracey Moseley took another first position in her best ever World Cup season from Florian Pugin in second, Sabrina Jonnier third, Rachel Atherton fourth and Emmeline Ragot rounding out the podium.
On behalf of the Team we would like to congratulate Trek World Racing’s Aaron Gwin on securing the overall World Cups men’s title with one race to go. Aaron has been amazing this season.
We are off to Morzine in France now for some filming this week then to Pila for an IXS European round next weekend, then on to Val Di Sole for the World Cup finals the weekend after.
Thanks to all our sponsors for their continued support and everyone involved with the team for their hard work and commitment.”
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