The weather drew in over night, waking up to cloud covered peaks. Although there had been no rain, the clouds sure were shouting about it, could be a totally different story if the heavens opened.
Chasing the final box of the season…more like the cylinder though. The riders are excited for what is going to be an all time memorable race!
Not the best start to finals day, snapping a pedal is never a good thing, snapping it off of the road gap isnt great either!
Racing was quickly under way and with the crowds gathering and the track running prime, it was time to start the beeps for the last time this World Cup season.
"4_audio". Released: 2014.
An arm injury for Luca Shaw earlier on in the week really didn't set him up well coming into racing. Trying to not let it effect him too much, he quickly fell back on time and hit the first split in 12th. Regaining a bit of time he came across the line with a 5th place. Missing out on the win would cost him dearly. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/4_audio1.mp3"]"
"5_audio". Released: 2014.
Taylor Vernon's season has really picked up the last couple of rounds. Getting into the swing of it after his accident last year, he has proved recently that he has what it takes. Keen to take the win here he pressed on hard for the line, but a poor top section cost him and he had ground to make up. Crossing the finish with a 3rd couldn't have capped his season off any better. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/5_audio.mp3"]"
"6_audio". Released: 2014.
Over the moon with his result, Laurie has come along way since his first race in Cairns and already cant wait to get his teeth sunk into next season. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/6_audio1.mp3"]"
Greenland with the run of his life today showing the world he can put out a fast lap. Maybe it was the helmet that did it...he finished today with his best WC result in 2nd place, 3.9 off the win.
Loris Vergier capitalised on a bad situation for Luca. With Shaw down on time, Loris had the perfect opportunity to seal his World Cup dreams. A pretty much faultless run in front of a home crowd saw him cross the line a huge 3 seconds up on 2nd place Laurie Greenland.
Crossing the line, Loris Vergier becomes the first champion of the day, first place and the overall title and he cant believe it!
Your Junior podium here in Meribel sees two young British hopefuls on the boxes, but inbetween these is one of the most consistent riders of the season.
The win and taking over the top spot in the overall, Loris Vergier holds his trophy proud as he becomes a World Cup Champion, first of many for him perhaps?
Tahnee Seagrave has consistently put herself up there amongst the top girls in her first Elite season. Another podium for Tahnee today in 5th. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/20_audio5.mp3"]"
After her 2nd place qualifier yesterday, all Manon had to do to secure the overall was make 5th but the thought of taking another win made her push for the top. Coming down with a consistent 3rd splits she crosses the line just in behind Emmeline Ragot. Although behind Rachel she still had enough points to seal the deal.
Coming from her win in Windham, Emmeline's chances for the overall were still there. A top result from her matched with a poor result from Manon could have seen her snap the title from the Welsh girl. A top run, put her right into the hot seat, 9 seconds up on current leader Tracey Hannah. It was a demanding lead but would it hold with the final two women to come?
After her top qualifying result from yesterday, Rachel also had the opportunity to seal the deal here in Meribel. Really bringing her season back together these last few races, she looked in form on track. Top of the board on both splits she was looking like she was on for a good result to end her season.
Crossing the line, Rachel goes ahead of Emmeline and takes the win with 3.4 seconds to spare. The second win for Rachel this season after a roller coaster ride of emotions for her. Not enough for the overall but a good confidence builder going into Worlds.
World Champion and World Cup Champion. the level of female riding is on the rise and the racing is becoming tighter and tighter. It's great to see that both of the worlds top female riders come from the UK.
A smile on her face but disappointed at heart, Emmeline knew she had the opportunity to take the overall this weekend, but the odds weren't in her favour. She will be one to watch at World Champs though, the technical fast track will suit her well.
With family and friends all out to support Manon, it wasn't long until the beers were cracked open to celebrate her overall achievement.
Rachel back on the top step to cap off the season, with constant pressure from the females around her she will have to step up the game over the next season if she is to stay on the top.
"20_audio". Released: 2014.
A dream for the past few years finally come true for Manon as she walks away with the trophy. Manon this season has constantly chipped away at the points and turned out on top.
The Men's finals came round too fast today. Last minute tweaks in the Syndicate pits. Dougie Fresh working tirelessly on Ratboy's bike to make sure it's been running prime all week.
First place qualifier Matt Simmonds feeling the pressure of the race run. Never having been last man down in a World Cup race, Matt was trying to keep a cool, level head as he sits in the pits watching the other riders leave and return from their runs.
The crowds out here in Meribel were second to none (Ed - maybe Fort William?). A right Euro mix with fans coming out from all over to see their favourite riders come down the hill.
Greg Williamson with his best result this season tops his team with a 9th place. A result that he has really been hoping for he will go into next season keen to improve and put out a consistent top 10 year.
Not too many mechanicals or flats at this round but the few that there were came at bad times. Neko Mulally was setting himself up for a hot run. A flat in the top section threw his week right into the bin. Not the best way to end a season affecting his overall position.
Brendan Fairclough back up in the top 20 this weekend as he finishes his season in 17th overall. A successful run but like most riders today pushed hard in the top section but lost momentum in the last sector of the track on the loose corners, Brendan foot out and getting wild.
Track side crowd ratings in the corners. These guys let you know if your riding wasn't up to standard.
Fans laced along the track to the top of the open section screaming the riders all the way. With it being so open it was great to watch riders all the way through and see where they were losing and gaining time.
The World Champion Greg Minnaar still struggling with his knee after his injury in Leogang at the end of last year. Putting a 10th in today nailed home a 7th overall for Greg.
Aaron Gwin's day didn't go to plan. Both him and Troy were set up to push Josh off of his top spot. A 6th place for Gwin wasn't enough to top the overall. Still for Gwin it is a top overall result considering he has had two bad rounds to contend with.
Pulling one out of the bag, Markus Pekoll put down the run of his season coming across the line and going right into the hot seat. He did well to hold on to it for a fair time until some of the top riders started to barrel down the hill. Finishing in 8th today, Markus was stoked with that one.
One of the favourites for today, French rider Remi Thirion was looking like he could have sealed that top spot he has been hunting all season. Again, a good top section led into a slower bottom, costing him a few places. 11th for Remi today.
Danny Hart pressed down hard into the finish line into a 7th place today. A track that was suited to Danny’s riding style, but maybe the conditions weren't in his favour, more rain next time!
Media corner, all the shooters camping out on the last corners to get all the drifting shapes.
Like every round this year, Bruni put in 110% and really just wants the win. In front of all his friends and family here in Meribel he put down a solid final run. Not quite enough though to secure a box position, he crossed the line in 4th place.
All the 5s for Gee today, not a number that suits him but he finished off today in 5th and taking 5th in the overall also. Like his sister, Gee struggled to stay consistent this season, with bike issues and bad luck with races, Gee is looking forward to getting into Worlds and putting some time into next season's preparation.
Today was all about the Rat! It was his day to make history, but it wasn't going to be easy. Keen for the win and taking the overall, it would have been one hell of a day to remember. Dropping in on his run, he didn't kick off to a top start. 5th at the first split with the times super tight, he really needed to press on if he was to take the win here.
The fans screaming Josh all the way through a tunnel of noise as he comes into the finish arena. He crosses the line and comes in just behind Sam Hill with 0.5 back. All Josh needed to know was if it was enough for the overall.
Coming out of the wood work and really throwing a curve ball in todays race. Sam Hill managed to seal his second win of the 2014 season with a blinding bottom section which saw him come from a 3rd split to take the win. Not enough to take the overall though, it still secured his 4th place season.
Dropping in and hitting the first split, Matt Simmonds was down by quite a margin and looking like he may not have what it takes. But as he comes into the second split he goes up! In an unpredictable turn of events it was looking like Matt might have it. Pinned over the last drop he spots the green lights and pushes all he has to the finish line he crosses the line, 0.3seconds but on the wrong side, just in behind Sam Hill.
"39_audio". Released: 2014.
Matt’s highest position in a World Cup and everyone was genuinely stoked for the British rider. "[audio url="http://cdn.coresites.factorymedia.com/dirt_new/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/39_audio1.mp3"]"
Sam Hill takes his second win of this season, but all eyes were on Josh Bryceland to see if he had enough points for the overall. Eagerly waiting to hear the official results.
Hill and Page discussing his winning run. Sam made up pretty much all of his time in the bottom corners, and it showed, no one could touch him after the second split.
Josh does it, the points are counted and the World Cup Champion holds his trophy high to the sky for the first time.
The crowds went bonkers for Ratboy, one of the biggest characters in the sport taking the it all in.
The final seasons podium sees Sam Hill standing proud on the top. Definitely the results he has been looking for and expected to get over the last few years. But with a couple of not so great results see Hill in 4th for the overall.
With Troy’s bad result today it opened the gap for team mate Gwin to take over slotting in behind Josh Bryceland who was way out in front in the overall points. Josh has gone from strength to strength this season, don't expect him to go away any time soon!
The champagne showers top off what has been an incredible season of World Cup racing. With the standards higher than they have ever been and the racing as tight as anything!
And so that concludes the final round of the 2014 UCI MTB World Cup. It's been one hell of a year with so many ups and downs for everyone racing but it couldn't have ended with a crazier race. Join us next time where we hit up Norway for the 2014 World Champs where it's all to play for and everything to lose!
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World Cup Finals 2014, MERIBEL
There aren't enough superlatives to describe the elation that spread through Meribel in a wave led by UK riders. Loris Vergier took the Junior title but he was flanked on the podium by two of the brightest hopes for the future of downhill racing. Laurie Greenland and Taylor Vernon are superstars in the making. Cut from different cloth but fast and exciting when it comes to racing these boys are the future.
The Women's race was a UK affair too, Rachel taking the win on the day and Manon clinching the overall it couldn't have been better for our top ladies. The pressure was on and all Manon had to do was land a top 5, down at the splits but doing enough she walked away with a points lead that sent her into the stratosphere. There is a lot more to come from Carpenter and we will no doubt see big things next season.
The Men's race was just incredible. It wasn't just a good day for the Brits, it was a great day for downhill racing full stop. Sam Hill is on form, he showed that when a course is taped wide he can open the throttle and fire his way down the slope. He said he was relaxed and that seems to be a recurring theme for success, a lot of riders are committing huge amounts of time to training and preparation but the winners come across the line when their mind is ready.
Matt Simmonds was one rider who dealt with the 'last man down' pressure like a true pro. He might have the power for a track like PMB but he has now proven he can take it to the steep technical tracks. 1st in quali was backed up with a 2nd today and he will be riding high going into World Champs.
Then there was Bryceland. Having the pressure of a close Troy Brosnan and Aaron Gwin pushing down on him from the big S team Josh stayed composed and clear when it came to his race run. As Troy crashed and lost time then Gwin didn't land a competitive result it was nearly in the bag but no one dare say it. His run was tight and the nerves showed, 'shitting bricks' was a phrase that appeared a few times! But he did what was needed and took third on the day, sealing his win in the overall and #peakin just at the right time. The overall was his and Gwin leapfrogged Brosnan for second, 4th place went to Loic Bruni and Gee matched his overall with 5th.
It's been an amazing season and bringing you these galleries has been sweet, massive thanks to Laurence for his hard work, late nights and monster images. We'll be back for one last hurrah from World Champs before filling the off season with more great stuff.
Check out all the rest of the goings on from the 2014 Meribel World Cup Finals right here: