And then there was Andorra.
| Jun 30 '17. 9:02 am |
The sixth round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano is the first combined double event of 2017 – and the first of four in a row to finish out the season – drawing the world’s best in both Cross-Country Olympic and Downhill.
The massive weekend of action will go down in tiny Andorra, a country in the Pyrenees between France and Spain that is the hub for some of the most passionate cycling fans on the planet.
At nearly 2,000 meters in altitude, it’s the highest stop of the season, and while the thin air will test the XCO riders, it’s the exceptionally steep pitch of the course that will haunt the dreams of the downhill stars. Vallnord marks the midpoint of the world’s premier mountain bike series and will reward riders on the attack.
Will someone finally take control of the free-for-alls in the men’s and women’s DHI standings? And who will prevail in XCO? Dial in for all the drama live on July 1-2, only on Red Bull TV.
The 2017 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup is in the midst of one of the most competitive seasons in recent history with three different winners at each of the three initial stops for both the women’s and men’s classes. Great Britain’s Tahnée Seagrave is fresh off a breakout ride in Leogang that saw her taking her career-first World Cup triumph but she’s second to Fort William winner Tracey Hannah (AUS) in the World Cup overall standings. However, Hannah and Seagrave both have to watch out for third-place Myriam Nicole of France, who will be determined to deliver a hometown win for her Vallnord-based bike sponsor. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the previously invincible Rachel Atherton. Coming back from a dislocated shoulder, can the British queen of Downhill start a new winning streak and save her season?
In men’s DHI, another British star, World Champion Danny Hart, has yet to show the form that made him the man to beat at the end of 2016 and will be looking to start a new hot run in Vallnord. But Aaron Gwin (USA), who clinched his overall title in Vallnord last year, is coming off a big victory in Leogang and is aiming for domination whilst South Africa’s Greg Minnaar, the winningest rider in World Cup Downhill and current World Cup leader, will be keen to improve on his second-place result at Vallnord in 2016. France’s Loic Bruni will also be hungry to regain the mojo he clinched with his World Champion title on the slopes of Vallnord in 2015.
The 4-kilometer-long track at the Vallnord Bike Park is a punishing one. Will the high-altitude course once again suit defending World Cup overall champion and XCO legend Julien Absalon of France? He won in Andorra in 2016 but has yet to stand on top of a World Cup podium in his final year? Or can current Olympic and World Champion Nino Schurter of Switzerland erase the memory of last year’s flat tire in Vallnord to keep his 2017 World Cup campaign immaculate with three race victories in a row?
Among the women, can the Ukraine’s Yana Belomoina – who stunned the field with the Ukraine’s first-ever World Cup win in Albstadt – use her mad climbing skills to extend her lead in the overall standings? Or will Jolanda Neff of Switzerland produce a Vallnord repeat? And will Canada’s Catherine Pendrel, who clinched the overall title last year with a third place in Vallnord, change her luck and throw down a top result?
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