The field of battle

Val di Sole trackwalk

It couldn’t have been set up better. The two greatest riders of the past decade on probably the best track of the decade in a quickdraw Mexican standoff.

Training, injuries, rocks, roots, berms, air miles, glory and defeat, all for this

What a track it is. This year some corners have been reinforced and some berms built up but the heart remains pure – it’s as rough as your nan’s bunions. The Black Snake is a three minute assault on body and bike that will constrict thighs and forearms and happily gobble up anyone who isn’t throwing the front end in fully committed.

Never change Val di Sole

This was probably the slowest and busiest trackwalk of the year. Not only is there so much to look at on this track, every root and rock could be so important. Whether you’re fighting for the number one plate or not, any points you pick up here could make a difference. Yes, first and third are separated by only 77 points, but 10th and 42nd are only 200 apart – it could all change in a heartbeat.

Loic Bruni is rocking a tinder Demo that he designed as an intern at Specialized
Lava themed or tiger bread themed?
Ciao bella!
The roughness of Val di Sole should be no bother for Jack Moir after battling through the braking bumps of Whistler for a fortnight
Get your dick jokes out of the way now...
These top berms have been dug in and smoothed out replacing the flat, grass turns of World Champs last year
This left hander caught out many last year as deep holes developed, let's hope it holds together a bit better this year
Hero dirt for now but don't expect it to stick around
Your arms hurt just looking at this brute of a track
The FMD crew eyeing lines - there aren't many nice ones through here...
We were hearing the difficulty level had been toned down, thankfully any sanitisation was oversold
Smoothed out sections litter the course but won't stay that way for long
Let's not forget Flo Payet's podium here at Worlds last year. Hopefully he's fully over his injury from Fort William.
Track walk was busy and slow today... there's a LOT to look at
Two wins already for Tahnee this year and she must fancy herself on a track as techy as the Black Snake
Is it time for the non-quali party already?!
Out in the open, these roots normally take the brunt of the erosion, expect deep holes come Sunday
All smiles for Rach this weekend. Five wins and two Rainbow Jerseys on this track and she doesn't have the overall to worry about.
It's a two-race-run weekend for Gwin with both qualies and racing being so important
If you can't go round it and you can't go through it you might as well go over it.
Mike Jones has a podium in his pocket from MSA and Laurie Greenland comes here off his second place last year. The two young Brits enjoy trackwalk together
Val di Sole gets the stare-down from the Polygon crew
Matt Walker has brought a 29er this weekend, could it be the edge he needs to overcome Iles?
Danny's been here practicing earlier in the year... just as he did before Worlds last time.
Some of the corners have been built up to increase flow but now you'll only be hitting the ruffage harder
This could be Danny's last race in the rainbow jersey for a while - better make it count
Troy is arguably the in-form rider after his domination of the Canadian Open, he's only 77 points in arrears, don't count him out
The Specialized crew looking dapper and breathing in the mountain air
The big send into the finish field... we're not sure 25 metres has ever been hit though...
For such an innocuous corner, there's a lot of history in this left hander. The outside line has been built up so expect fewer insides this year.
Let's get on with it!
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