The first-ever trip to Poland for the DH World Cup showed there's an huge appetite for new tracks


The newest track on the DH World Cup calendar – Bielsko-Biała in Poland – did not disappoint. Our predictions may have fallen short this time round, with a triumphant Ronan Dunne (Mondraker Factory Racing) taking his first DH World Cup win in the Elite men’s race, and Marine Caribou (Scott Downhill Factory) returning to winning ways ahead of Camille Balanche (Dorval AM Commencal) in a thrilling Elite women’s showdown. So how did it happen?

Marine Cabirou was back to winning ways in Poland this weekend // Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool //

Cabirou’s first win since Snowshoe

It looked like it was going to be another weekend for Fort Bill winner Vali Höll (YT Mob) after a dominant display in the semi-finals. She snapped a chain during her qualifying run but put it behind her to set the fastest time on Saturday. Come Sunday, however, and tricky conditions after morning rain left parts of the track bone dry and other sections slick and greasy. Vali fell victim to these unpredictable conditions, and crashed in the first sector, leading her to play catch-up for the rest of the run. She ended up finishing 6th, at over 8 seconds back.

But, the biggest story of the Elite women’s weekend was the return to the top step for Cabirou, who had a pretty consistent weekend finishing 3rd in qualifying and semi-finals. This was her first win since Snowshoe last year, and she’s now put her disappointing start to the season behind her ahead of the rest of the year.

“I’m super happy to win here on this new track in Poland,” Cabirou said. “It’s crazy because the track has changed a lot all week. It was difficult to manage the race run because we had a lot of rain at the start of the afternoon, so I didn’t know if I could push or not, so I just tried to do my best. At the beginning, I saw that the track was kind of dry so I tried to push. I made a mistake but I think everybody made a mistake, so I just had a good run.”

Another rider who didn’t know quite how much she could push it was Tahnée Seagrave (Canyon CLLCTV FMD), who unfortunately unclipped from her pedals during the technical woods section and struggled to get back in, losing her lead in the process. She finished in 5th, which while might not be what she wanted, is still a great indicator of her return to form. She’s currently sitting 2nd in the overall standings, behind Höll.

Irishman Dunne took his first WC victory atop his Mondraker prototype // Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Ronan shows us how it’s Dunne

In the Elite men’s race, Irishman Ronan Dunne took his first World Cup win, backing up his Hardline Tasmania result earlier in the year. It wasn’t a runaway victory, however, as Bruni finished just 0.06 seconds behind and other riders crashed on potentially winning runs – but it was enough for Dunne to take Mondraker’s first WC win this season.

It was actually Dunne’s teammate, Dakotah Norton, who laid down some fast laps in qualifying and the semi-finals, but he slid out on a wet patch before the top split, leading him to finish 31st overall. Nevertheless, it’s been a great start to the year for the new team and their young signings.

Dunne said: “I was loving the track in Poland. The crowd was insane. It’s the second [UCI Downhill World Cup] with the new team. It’s been perfect and I had myself in the mindset of either I was going for a helicopter trip, or I was coming down in first. We didn’t take the helicopter trip, but we took the win. Usually, I don’t look at the times, but this time I was. I saw the time that Bruni put down and I thought ‘OK, we’re going for it, we’re not messing around’. I was ready to fight someone. It paid off.”

Greg Williamson (Madison Saracen Factory Team) was the best-placed Brit in 7th place, backing up his strong 7th in Fort William, with Ethan Craik (Scott Downhill Factory) a few seconds behind in 11th.

Tahnée Seagrave unclipped during the technical woods section, but still managed to hold on to 5th place // Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Full results

Elite Women’s race

1st. Marine Cabirou: 3:26.643
2nd. Camille Balanche: 3:27.831 / +1.188
3rd. Nina Hoffmann: 3:28.323 / +1.680
4th. Jess Blewitt: 3:29.068 / +2.425
5th. Tahnee Seagrave: 3:29.890 / +3.247

Elite Men’s race

1st. Ronan Dunne: 2:55.766
2nd. Loic Bruni: 2:55.830 / +0.064
3rd. Loris Vergier: 2:56.963 / +1.197
4th. Benoit Coulanges: 2:57.326 / +1.560
5th. Amaury Pierron: 2:57.596 / +1.830