So there you have it, Aaron Gwin continued his incredible run of form at Val Di Sole with his third win in the last four World Cups held at the venue, denying Loic Bruni his first win yet again – it will have to wait until 2016 for the Frenchman.
In the overall, Greg Minnaar pushed a little too hard and crashed out, not that it would have mattered in the end – even a second place to Minnaar would have been enough to give Gwin the title. So where did Gwin find that 1.589 second gap, or perhaps, where did others lose it?
A split 1 it was Troy Brosnan setting the pace with Gwin 0.4 seconds back. Danny Hart was up there after Sector 1 in third but already over a second back and Loic Bruni in 4th 1.5 seconds behind. Josh Bryceland rounded out the podium places at Split 1. Another young Frenchman, Amaury Pierron has been putting in some solid performances in the last few rounds and at Split 1 he was looking at another string performance here, running in 8th place just behind Ed Masters in 7th.
Into Sector 2 and this was where Tory Brosnan lost it. Washing out on a relatively easy part of the track (according to the Aussie himself), while Aaron Gwin went fastest, taking another 1.2 seconds out of Loic Bruni. This gave Gwin a 2.3 second gap overall at Split 2. Greg Minnaar crashed up top but wasn’t slowing down even though he knew his overall chances were gone – he went second fastest in Sector 2.
Sector 2 was where Brook MacDonald started to threaten the podium. At Split 1 he was sitting in 9th but the 5th fastest Sector 2 moved him up to 6th position overall at Sector 2. Danny Hart was also still in the mix at Split 2. Although Loic Bruni went faster in Sector 2, and bettered him overall, Brosnan’s crash meant that he held on to third place at Split 2.
Surely though the most impressive thing about the whole race was that Troy had a pretty major crash that broke a finger but he still only lost 3.3 seconds to Gwin on the sector and was 15th fastest in Sector 2?! Often it’s hard to spot the differences between the speed of different riders on video without the benefit of a stopwatch, but Brosnan was visibly faster in so many sections and staying inside the top 20 on the sector where he crashed is testament to this!
In Sector 3 Brosnan shook off the crash and simply picked up where he left off, going fastest and benefitting from Danny Hart’s crash in the final sector to actually make up a place and climb back into 3rd place. Danny’s crash in the final sector dropped him down to 25th at the finish after such a promising top two thirds.
Gwin demonstrated why you can never give up even a second to him. Bruni pulled back 0.8 seconds and Brosnan went 1.1 seconds faster but his pace and consistency in the top two sections gave him the buffer he needed to take the win.
Meanwhile, the battle for the last steps on the podium went right down to the final sector. Brook MacDonald went second fastest in the final sector, going a second faster than Bryceland and two seconds faster than Atherton to leapfrog them both and snatch 4th place at the finish. Atherton’s so-so final sector cost him a podium position, giving it away to Josh Bryceland even through Josh could only go 10th fastest in Sector 3.
Wrapping it all up for 2015
So the 2015 season ends as it started, with a dominant win for Aaron Gwin.
At one point it looked like he was going to run away with it, there was a little wobble in the middle but he showed his talent, class and nerve to take the overall in style in the end.
The next question though, is can he finally do it at the World Champs? It’s a steep, wild course that should suit him but on World Champs day anything can happen. I’ll be back for the World Champs but for now I’ll just leave you with a beautiful table of stats – your top five in the Men’s Downhill World Cup 2015….
Final World Cup overall standings 2015