The mid-season hiatus is over and we're once again staring down the barrel of back-to-back World Cups. The pits are up, the heavens have opened and we're duly throwing our reputations on the line once again with our World Cup predictions. Val di Sole is one of those tracks where riders can truly make a name for themselves, it's equally a track where seasons can end. Without further ado, here's who we think will be taking the top spots this weekend.

Smurf

Men

1st - Amaury Pierron

I’m plumping for Pierron because, more than anything, I’d just love it to be true. He claimed second here last year pretty much out of nowhere and that new Commencal downhill bike has to be ridden to be believed.

Pierron is the man in form at the moment and will be desperate to hold on to the leader’s jersey as we head to Commencal’s home World Cup in Vallnord next weekend. The best way to do that is to win in Italy.

2nd - Brook MacDonald

Brook MacDonald is fast here, make no mistake. He podiumed here in his last ever World Cup on Trek Factory Racing and was on for a podium in 2013 too but broke his saddle half way down the run.

Admittedly, Brook struggled here while racing for GT but we know the Mondraker is a fast bike here as proven by the World Champs 1-2-3 in 2016. The Bulldog will be straining at his chain to be unleashed in Val di Sole.

3rd - Aaron Gwin

You simply can’t ignore Gwin on this track. He laid down arguably one of the greatest World Cup runs of all time in 2011 when he drove nearly 8 seconds into the rest of the field. He’s now won here four times including the last two. Definitely the man to beat.

Women

1st - Rachel Atherton

After her first win in more than a year, Rachel seems to be back to her best. She backed up the Leogang result with wins in the downhill and dual slalom in Les Gets and seems to be loving riding her bike at the moment. That makes her a very dangerous prospect.

2nd - Myriam Nicole

Myriam won her first ever World Cup here in 2011 and loves it when things turn steep and techy. She’ll be on a wave on confidence having held the leader’s jersey to the halfway point of the season and will not want to let it slip but with just a ten point cushion she’ll pretty much have to dogfight Atherton for it.

3rd - Tahnee Seagrave

After her DQ in Austria, Tahnee is falling off the race for the overall and will have to start bringing in some big results to haul it back. She picked up the win here last year and will need a similar result to get her season back on track this year.

James

Men

1st - Aaron Gwin

I’ve predicted Aaron to win every race this year and don’t expect that to change anytime soon. It’s been a turbulent first half of the season for Gwin. After the highs of victory in Round 1, a crash in Fort William hampered his results not just in Scotland, but followed him on to Austria. We say hampered, but he still came away with second in Leogang with one hand and having barely practiced. The man is simply the fastest rider on the planet right now and at full fitness, on a track that he’s previously decimated the competition on, he has to be favourite.

2nd - Amaury Pierron

If Gwin is the fastest man on the planet right now, Pierron may well be his successor. Consecutive wins, one of the most dialled bikes on the circuit and a track that he’s already tasted success on, Pierron is more than capable of pulling a result out of the bag. We’ve not yet seen an all-out head to head between Pierron and Gwin; Pierron flatted in Round 1, Gwin crashed in Round 2 and was nursing the resulting injury in Round 3. Val di Sole may well prove to be the track that these heavyweights finally get to do battle on.

3rd - Danny Hart

Danny’s had a slightly underwhelming season so far. Since his well publicised move to the Madison Saracen team he’s struggled to recapture the form that he’s been building over the past few years. If ever there was a track for Danny to turn it around on though, it’s Val di Sole. World Champion here just 2 years ago, Danny is coming into this race full of confidence following a win at Crankworx Innsbruck and having reacquainted himself with his other favourite track; Champery. If everything clicks we all know Danny is capable of taking the win here, the question is will it?

Women

1st - Rachel Atherton

The race for the number 1 plate is well and truly on. Following her heroics in Fort William and an assured display in Leogang, Rachel still trails Myriam in the overall, but only by 10 points. When the pressure is on though, nobody delivers like Rach and on this track, you can’t look past her for the win. 

2nd - Myriam Nicole

On the other end of that 10 point margin sits Myriam. She looked like she was on for a blinder in Leogang but mistakes at the bottom cost her and opened the door for Rach to stake a claim for the top spot. You can guarantee that Myriam will be chomping at the bit to hold on to that leaders jersey and we all know that she’s more than capable. I expect it to be close, but I think Rachel will just edge her.

3rd - Tahnee Seagrave

Coming into this season there was a buzz around Tahnee, with many believing that this was the season for her to grab the bull by the horns and stake her claim as queen of Downhill. Things haven’t quite panned out that way though, despite a momentous victory in Fort William, third place in Losinj and an unfortunate DQ in Leogang have left her chasing the lead pack. There’s no doubting she’s got the pace to deliver a result, but for me, I can’t see her outdoing the lead duo.