You couldn’t ask for a more exciting race at the new venue high in the Andorran mountains. Vali Höll’s trademark aggression paid off as she claimed victory in the downhill race at Vallnord, while Loris Vergier took the win in the men’s race thanks to one of the most precise and error-free runs ever.
With Andorra’s mountains supplying some epic upper sections that crossed moto and pure steep tech amidst dust and trees, the bottom bridge sections were seemingly out of place. That said, the racing was fast and furious with the top positions separated by barely anything, frustrating and disappointing many come the finish line.
Jacksons course preview
What needs to be said loud and clear is that junior Jackson Goldstone recored the fastest run of the day. THE FASTEST RUN OF THE DAY. Yes the track may not have been as blown out when he went down, but his riding was simply on point.
And his winning run… Kid doesn’t even get puffed!
OK, to the womens… Switzerland’s Camille Balanche was looking to return to winning ways after finishing second last weekend in Lenzerheide and looked to be the clear favourite after dominating during qualifying on Friday. When it came to race day, it was Jess Blewitt who stormed into the lead with just five riders remaining thanks to a flawless run down a very dry and dusty course. The New Zealander missed the start of the season due to injury but looked to be back to full speed in Andorra.
Eleonora Farina was next down but couldn’t match the speed of Blewitt and found herself in third behind the Kiwi and Norway’s Mille Johnset.
Höll then produced the ride of the day, taming the challenging course and showing incredible speed as she went fastest by more than five seconds. Having won in Lenzerheide, Myriam Nicole was full of confidence and was on track to snatch the lead before crashing out. Nina Hoffman then produced a clean run to cross the line in second. Balanche was last out the gate and was looking to deny Höll her first win of the season, but made several mistakes and had to settle for third.
It’s such a relief. I had really bad qualifying and a really bad practice run so I didn’t know what was going on. But I managed to ride hard, keep it clean and ride smart, like an adult and not a junior.”
In the men’s event, a stacked crew of Aussies were in the game with Troy Brosnan back in action, and Connor Fearon rolling on the new Forbidden DH rig. But it was the young guns of Oliver Zwar and Luke Meier-Smith that made the headlines and the hotseat. Luke sitting up top for an eternity. Massive props to em both for stepping it up in 2022!
Of course the top 10 or so quickly asserted their speed on the blown out and duty corners. Aaron Gwin looked to be back on form as he snatched the lead by 0.6 seconds and became the first rider of the day to beat Friday’s top qualifying time set by Loris Vergier. Finn Iles was the next rider up and the Canadian produced a crazy run. Despite a huge mistake, he was able to somehow stay on the bike and take the lead by a massive 0.7 seconds.
Loïc Bruni showed his class with a clean run that saw him snatch the lead with just two riders remaining. Following a huge crash in the morning, compatriot Amaury Pierron was able to complete the course but found himself down in 12th. The final rider of the day was Vergier and the Frenchman produced a thrilling conclusion to the action as he glided over the dust to take the win by a huge 1.4 seconds. All in all a big weekend for Loris, fastest in Timed Practice, Fastest in Qualifying and the winning run in the premiere class…
It feels really good to get the win, it was a great weekend. I was able to get the right balance (of risk and reward) and was able to push so I am really happy.” Vergier
Women’s DH result 1. Vali Höll: AUT 3:09.803 2. Nina Hoffmann GER +3.538 3. Camille Balanche SUI +3.684 4. Jess Blewitt NZL +5.199 5. Mille Johnset NOR +6.119
Men’s DH result 1. Loris Vergier FRA 2:44.500 2. Loïc Bruni FRA +1.418 3. Finn Iles CAN +1.697 4. Aaron Gwin USA +2.413 5. Andreas Kolb AUT +3.019
2022 UCI MTB World Cup women’s DH standings 1. Camille Balanche SUI 1085 points 2. Myriam Nicole FRA 905 3. Valentina Höll AUT 811 4. Eleonora Farina ITA 675 5. Nina Hofman GER 583
2022 UCI MTB World Cup men’s DH standings 1. Amaury Pierron FRA 930 points 2. Finn Illes CAN 666 3. Loris Vergier FRA 655 4. Matt Walker GBR 564 5. Danny Hart GBR 515