France’s Amaury Pierron and Briton Tahnée Seagrave held their nerve on 2018’s toughest downhill track to triumph on Saturday at Val di Sole in Italy.

The track itself is steeped in more prestige in downhill history thanks to amazing rides and brutal defeats. It’s famed roots, mud and that last left hander making it the true downhill track that all riders will be measured on. Add heavy rainfall in the Trentino region over the days leading up to the race and you have a course that’s even more unpredictable than usual. The sun thankfully came out on finals day to improve conditions. But never underestimate Val di Sole’s Black Snake course.

Pierron produced an extraordinary run to edge out an obviously shattered (after coming so close to his first win) Laurie Greenland for his third 2018 win in a row, while Seagrave pipped compatriot Rachel Atherton in the women’s race in the last sector by maybe half a bike length.

Rachel Atherton // Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Womens Finals

One of Atherton’s main rivals, Myriam Nicole, wouldn’t be riding in the finals. A crash just before qualifying on Friday meant that she watched the finals from her hospital bed. It’s unclear if she’ll be in Vallnord next week after her over-the-bars resulted in a badly bruised back. So without Nicole in the standings it was now up for the rest of the field to try to challenge Atherton’s time. Neither Tracey Hannah nor Emilie Siegenthalerwere able to match the run put down by Atherton, and with two left to go only Tahnée Seagrave and Monika Hrastnik were left at the top of the mountain.
Seagrave hammered out of the gate and looked really fast around the top turns. The winner here last year, the British rider knew what was needed to put in a good run on this technical track. A solid run from Seagrave saw her coming very close to Atherton’s split times, and as she approached the finish line a final sprint saw her claw the hotseat with a mere 0.123s lead, maybe half a bike length!

Seagrave sped out of the gate and looked really fast around the top turns. The winner here last year, the British rider knew what was needed to put in a good run on this technical track. A solid run from Seagrave saw her coming very close to Atherton’s split times, and as she approached the finish line a final sprint saw her claw the hotseat with a mere 0.123s lead. 

Tahnee Seagrave

“With five seconds left I could hear I was close and I full on sprinted. I needed that DQ in Leogang to fuel my fire. I need something a little bit extra to make me work a lot harder. Monika sent it down. I was really worried, but I didn’t want to let the points go though.”

Tahnée Seagrave

Crossing the finish line 1.6s slower, Seagrave took the win and Hrastnik placed third, scoring her best ever World Cup finish.
PLACERIDERTIME
1.Tahnée Seagrave4m 26.424s
2.Rachel Atherton4m 26.547s
3.Monika Hrastnik4m 28.029s
4.Tracey Hannah4m 29.718s
5.Veronika Widmann4m 35.824s

Amaury Pierron is on a burner this year! // Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Mens DH Finals

All the talk before the men’s race started was whether Aaron Gwin would start finals after re-injuring his thumb in a practice fall on Friday. With World Cup points for the overall title to play for, the American had to make a judgement whether racing was worth the risk.
The other talk of the race pits was whether Amaury Pierron would make it three World Cup wins out of three after topping qualifying on the Friday. He did that in entirely different conditions that presented today in finals, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to matter what conditions the Frenchman rides on, he’s in the form of his life. Amaury’s brother Baptise Pierron was in the hot seat with the fastest time as we got into the final 25 riders left to go. His time was bettered, however, by Benoit Coulanges, who in turn saw his time beaten by Reece Wilson. The course was rapidly drying out, allowing the riders to take risks that they would never had dreamed of during qualifying. With both Connor Fearon and Troy Brosnon qualifying relatively well in the wet, both put in solid efforts but weren’t able to crack the top 5 with Troy nailing 10th and Connor back in 19th. Dean Lucas made a gutsy ride after his big off a few weeks back and landed in 21st. 
Gwin decided the risk of World Cup points was worth it and rolled down the start gate. Riding within the limits that the thumb injury allowed him to, the American got down to the finish line but was never going to challenge Estaque’s leading time.
Mark Wallace and Loïc Bruni were two riders who looked to be challenging Estaque’s time out on their runs. Wallace finished just outside the Frenchman’s time in the end, while Bruni crashed on the course just after he recorded a split that was 1.298s up on Estaque’s time at the same section. The Black Snake was getting very dusty in parts due to the baking sun, and this seemed to be catching some of the riders out.
We were now down to the last five starters. Would Estaque pull off a memorable win? Britain’s Laurie Greenland had other ideas and put in a fast and direct run that saw him better Estaque’s time by just under two seconds. Greenland took all the risks on his run, nearly going over the bars at the start. Loris Vergier and Luca Shaw couldn’t better Greenland’s time, but Laurie’s former team-mate Danny Hart agonisingly came close. Hart just couldn’t pull the time back at the bottom of the course and went into second.
Only Amaury Pierron was left to go down. Pierron was taking different line choices from everyone else and while it looked fast this didn’t translate to a faster time than Greenland on the course initially. However, by the time the last split came, Pierron was just ahead of Greenland, maintaining that pace to the end to beat the Brit’s time by just over 0.5s. It was a measured run by Pierron, who knew where just to put his effort in to eke out that extra time.

“The track is super demanding physically and technically. This one I wanted and I am so happy. It is going to be sick in Andorra. I can do four in a row.”
Pierron

That’s now three out of three for Pierron and you wouldn’t bet against him making it four wins in a row in Vallnord in Andorra at the next stop of the Mercedes-Benz MTB World Cup….

PLACERIDERTIME
1.Amaury Pierron3m 36.778s
2.Laurie Greenland3m 37.312s
3.Danny Hart3m 37.448s
4.Luca Shaw3m 39.036s
5.Thomas Estaque3m 39.254s

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup women’s downhill standings after four out of seven races

Women

1. Rachel Atherton GBR 776 points
2. Tahnée Seagrave GBR 676
3. Myriam Nicole FRA 610
4. Tracey Hannah AUS 560
5. Monika Hrastnik SLO 496

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup men’s downhill standings after four out of seven races:

Men

1. Amaury Pierron FRA 753 points
2. Laurie Greenland GBR 491
3. Troy Brosnan AUS 488
4. Aaron Gwin USA 481
5. Danny Hart GBR 451
Thanks to Red Bull for the results and images, and of course the live stream which you can watch right here.