Bonjourno Ragazzi! Welcome to the valley of the sun! And it certainly is today... Bloody roasting in fact. Lucky for me I booked a hotel 15 miles away up in the snow line, so its nice and cool when I'm catching up on some sleep.
Seven Italian scorchers from the first day of practice at Val Di Sole, World Cup #7 courtesy of photographer Victor Lucas.
Mickael Pascal is a man who proves there's nothing wrong with doing things a little different to everybody else - he bashes out runs all day long in training, while others are conserving energy back in pit row. And his handlebars seem to gain a bit more altitude each weekend, but he is the French national champ and went 2nd fastest in todays timed trained. Can he keep the momentum up till Sunday?
Aaron Gwin is on holidays this weekend - no real pressure as he already has the series win in the bag. And he says he's glad about that - on a rough track like this ,all sorts of things could go wrong if the pressure was really on for him. But you can be sure he will be putting in some fast runs to keep his race head in gear for Worlds in 2 weeks.
Emmeline Ragot won here last year and if things go well, she could get herself on the podium for the overall. 2nd fastest today behind Floriane Pugin.
Greg Minnaar is in a strangely defensive position this week - he has no way to win the overall, but will have to work hard to keep Gee Atherton from pushing him out of 2nd spot. So he's sticking with the current alloy V10 that he has been running all year - no time for last minute changes here...
Gee Atherton could gain a place in the overall this weekend, even if the win is out of reach, you can be sure he will be giving it everything he's got on a track where he has always done well.
Floriane Pugin is on great form lately and as usual she is looking fast from the moment she hits the track - but even if she wins, Tracy needs to be way back around 7th or 8th place to lose the overall win.
Lots of people were pleased to hear that Brendan Fairclough got picked for the GB Worlds team, even with his knee injury, he has a solid track record on steep gnarly tracks and could be a man to watch over the next few weeks. Maybe he should change his nickname to 'Underdog'