Absolutely clear blue skies this morning. The weather has been super kind to us all so far and fingers crossed it stays for finals.
Know where your going, it's easy to get lost in this maze of activities. These handy full site maps guiding you around the festival, at least thats the vibe you get walking about, beers on tap, sun blazing and the tunes pumping. Added with some bike racing, it makes it pretty much the best place it be.
Mechanics dont get an easy ride, especially this week. Starting with full spikes, cut spikes for qualis and now dry tyres for finals, and thats before you start talking about pressures and what their favourite beer is! Bikes prepped for todays action.
I think it's time for a hair cut when its gets so wild its trying to escape from your helmet. Jay Williamson lift bound for some early morning practice.
Clear skies and freezing cold mornings...literally. A coat of frost sat at the top of the hill until the sun came up. Pretty easy to get caught out by the chill up here in the mountains...shorts were not a good idea.
Office with one hell of a view for all the marshals on track. With it being so clear you could see for miles around and even spot out Mont Blanc in the distance. Some pretty big hills around this part of the world!
A short bout of practice this morning for all riders and it wasn't long until the racing kicked off. An expected big Euro turn out for this one with a ton of very quick national riders and some under rated continental pinners. Qualis are under way and the racing's tighter than Gnat's chuff
The intense sunshine made light work of any moisture kicking around this morning and it wasn't long until the track was back it it's dusty state.
Taylor Vernon putting down the hammer in qualis today and living up to the number on the front of his bike. 3rd in today for him but coming into this race off his first win will make him hungry for way more!
Signing out of the World Cup scene, Rich Thomas from WideOpen dropped in for his last chance at the podium. Unfortunately missing out on qualifying today, he was seemingly stoked to throw in the towel and look forward to new career prospects. I chatted to him after his run. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/10_audio5.mp3"]"
The home soil advantage can massively boost a riders confidence. Ragot coming into this race with a strong head. Comfortable on track she was eager to make up the difference with points today. Up there with time but just a little off the pace of number 1, Ragot was back into 3rd.
After a bad crash in practice, Luca Shaw went steady on his quali run today. Visibly cut and beat up he was only able to put together a 14th. Not the best to be down so far but at least he made it through to tomorrow's finals.
Tahnee Seagrave hunting for another podium this week to cap off what has been one hell of a first year Elite season for her. 5th today in qualis, a bit back on Tracey in 4th but sitting tight in a potential podium spot.
Loris Vergier capitalised on Luca's injury and took the win here in qualis today. Coming into this round minus the leader's jersey will put a right old fire in his belly, keen to snatch it from Luca in the dying seconds of the season.
Friendly mountain visitors made it track side to watch the kids play, but I think they were more interested in the food around the track than the skills on it.
Currently series leader Manon Carpenter extended her lead away from 2nd place Emmeline as she took some points in qualis, rounding out in a close second behind Rachel. Going into tomorrow's race full of excitement and nerves, all she needs to do to seal the overall is a comfortable podium...but naturally she will be aiming for the win. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/16_audio2.mp3"]"
It has all come together last minute this season for Rachel Atherton as she takes the top spot in the final qualifying session of the year. Although she is up, its not by much, with Manon Carpenter snapping at her heels back only by 0.6 seconds.
This chopper pilot has the best job ever. Whipping around the valley like a stunt man, dipping in and out of the hills...doesn't get much better. But he has a job to do also, on stand-by for any big track whoopsies.
One of six riders in the top ten on the same second, Aaron Gwin fell in the middle, putting him in a safe 7th place. Stoked on the track but not so pleased with his quali run, Gwin will be looking ahead to tomorrow.
The eccentric Welsh rider Emyr Davies did himself a right proud one today as he scoops up 32nd place in qualis today. A truly up and down season, plagued with DNF's and top 70's, he could be setting himself up for his best result this season!
Quali runs always seem to get the better of Adam Brayton as he comes in 57th. Hoping to really turn it up in finals, he looks to put a spin on his edgy season, filled with injuries and slow runs. I chatted to him post run for a catch up. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/21_audio1.mp3"]"
Just falling off the top and back 2 seconds, Sam Hill sits comfortably in 5th place. With a win already under his belt from MSA, Sam would love to end his season on another, could happen, this track is well suited to Hill and we could see him up on the box tomorrow.
Looking pretty much the fastest all day in practice yesterday, Remi went into qualis today with the same drive and determination. 6th for Remi and only 2.2 off the pace, but with the track getting more and more beaten up as the days go on, expect things to step it up a notch tomorrow.
No worries for Steve Peat today as he sails into the finals with a 19th place run in qualis. The pressure to perform got him into the zone and he is stoked to go racing on this all time track tomorrow.
The track here really does have a full mix of features and technicalities. Almost feels like we are BC when you come around to this drop. Tidy to see something like this incorporated into a race track.
Loic Bruni rounding out the top 3 with a top performance from him. Happy with his run but still with a hefty reserve tank he will be pushing the extra yard to get the top spot, but when Bruni pushes...it gets loose and wild!
Coming out of nowhere though, Portugese National Champion, Francisco Pardal lays down the run of his season and grabs 4th place in qualis. Smashing out of the Spanish and IXS series he proves he is a force not to mess with on the Euro tracks. Crossing the line with his hands on his head I don't think he could really believe his result.
Troy Brosnan fitting into the foliage nicely. Like pretty much everyone, he is loving the track and really buzzing off of it, but when it came to his quali run it didn't quite come together. A flat in his run put his reach for the overall just that little bit further away, even more pressure coming into finals now.
A real mare in the top section for Blenki didn't kick his quali run off to a good start. But pressing on and picking back second after second he pulls in across the line in 29th. Really somewhere he didn't want to be back at and it could affect the team as they hold onto the number 1 spot with their finger tips.
First man down today in qualis and Josh went right into the top spot with a comfortable time, even after a crash in the woods it was looking to be a top place. Top riders took on his challenge but none succeeded apart from one man, Matt Simmonds. Pushing Josh back into 2nd set him off a bit as he was eager for the win and the maximum number of points going into the finals. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/30_audio.mp3"]"
But taking the win today in qualis, an unexpected result really, Matt Simmonds. A first for him in the World Cups, he will sure be feeling the pressure as he sits in the gate as last man down. With his quiet relaxed nature, he didn't really come across as a rider to be fast here, but when he links it all together and puts it into a run he can produce some top results. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/31_audio_01.mp3"]"
The fancy dress is already out on track. Not sure if this gent is a fan of Ratboy or if he is describing his hair cut. Either way...rather them than me in that attire!
With the rest of the elite riders rounding out the day, today has seen some unpredictable successes and some disappointed results for others. All I know is that it's racing tomorrow and boy is it going to be a hot one. Join in for all the race action!
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Qualifying went down yesterday and it was one hell of an eventful few hours! After crashing in practice Junior leader Luca Shaw took it steady down his run coming down in 14th 13.693s back on the winner of the day Loris Vergier. Laurie Greenland and Taylor Vernon took 2nd and 3rd spots and will both be coming in hot for finals later. The points battle is tight and the last few digits available make all the difference, full results are here.
Rachel Atherton made it count pulling things together right at the close of the season, Manon is still on for the overall if she lands a podium but Rach won't be giving up without a fight. The race is on between Manon and Rach, just 0.662s separate them with Ragot being just short of three seconds back. Tracey Hannah is looking fast and took 4th spot and was in touch with the top three times at 4.483s back. From there the times dropped back, Tahnee Seagrave took 5th spot with Morgane Charre a further 5 seconds back, then things opened up but they will no doubt close in some more come race runs later today. Full results here
The Men's qualifying was threw out some surprises and we are in for one hell of a race today. Aside from the winners and points on offer it was Francisco Pardal who stunned everyone with his 4th place, the Portugese rider has had top 20 results before and is currently National Champion. He can ride fast for sure but today was just one of those days where everything slotted into place for him. He was practicing with the Syndicate guys and couldn't believe what he had done coming across the line, all that and he buys his own bikes! Maybe not next year though...
We haven't seen too many punctures here but they can come at the worst time. Troy Brosnan and Greg Minnaar both flatted but the points loss for Troy will be a tough pill to swallow, he is now further back on Josh but anything can happen come finals. For the first time Matt Simmonds took the win and bagged 50 points in the process, he seemed pleased with his run even if it was a bit scrappy but he would have been pipped by Bryceland had he not crashed in his run. Ratboy is one fire, he definitely has the speed and landing 2nd place even with a spill in impressive when everyone was holding it wide for the last race of the season.