There can be few race tracks more intimidating than the infamous ‘Black Snake’ of Val di Sole Trentino, and once again it showed its teeth at the third round of the UCI Downhill World Cup today (Saturday).
The Elite Women enjoyed the best of the conditions, with the valley of the sun living up to its name for their final runs.
Valentina Höll (Rockshox Trek Race Team) gave a masterclass to the rest of the field on how to tame this famously savage track. After putting down the fastest time in the semi-final, she backed it up with a convincing win of nearly three seconds in the final. Camille Balanche (Dorval AM Commencal) couldn’t match her pace and was forced to settle for second, with Jess Blewitt (GT-Continental Factory Racing) posting her best race result to date to finish third.
With five races left this season, Balanche still leads the overall standings ahead of Höll in second and Rachel Atherton (Continental Atherton) in third.
Mid-afternoon rain showers certainly added spice to the Elite Men’s race with early starter Bernard Kerr (Pivot Factory Racing) enjoying a lengthy spell in the hot seat after a significant downpour left the middle section of the track extra slick and treacherous.
But, after the sun came out again, times tumbled and it was Canada’s Jackson Goldstone (Santa Cruz Syndicate) who was able to make most sense of the rapidly-changing conditions to take his debut elite-level win. His compatriot Finn Iles (Specialized Gravity) came close but couldn’t quite match the 19-year-old’s pace. France’s Thibaut Daprela (Commencal/Muc-Off By Riding Addiction) rounded out the top three with a trademark rollercoaster of a ride.
Goldstone now leads the overall with Iles in second and Loris Vergier (Trek Factory Racing Gravity) in third.
The Junior racers got their chance to shine on Friday, when it was New Zealand’s Sacha Earnest (KIWIDH) who took the women’s win by an incredible 12 seconds. Things were much tighter in the men’s competition, where Canada’s Bodhi Kuhn (Trek Factory Racing Gravity) won by less than a second.
The racing continues on Sunday when the fourth round of the UCI Cross-country World Cup gets underway.