Steep 'n' deep
After a month’s break, the UCI Mercedes-Benz Mountain Bike World Cup 2019 returns with the first XCC/DHI/XCO triple header this year.
Red Bull TV times
All times in UK time.
Vallnord XCC Women: Friday, 05 July, starting at 16:20 live on Red Bull TV
Vallnord XCC Men: Friday, 05 July, immediately following the women’s race live
Vallnord DHI Women: Saturday, 6 July, starting at 11:30 live on Red Bull TV
Vallnord DHI Men: Saturday, 6 July, starting at 12:45 live on Red Bull TV
Vallnord XCO Women: Sunday, 7 July, starting at 11:00 live on Red Bull TV
Vallnord XCO Men: Sunday, 7 July, starting at 13:30 live on Red Bull TV
Live broadcasts start on redbull.tv/bike with the Cross-Country Short-Track race on Friday, 05 July at 4:20pm UK time and continues with the Downhill race on Saturday at 11:30am UK time (Women Elite) and 12:45pm UK time (Men Elite). The triple header weekend concludes on Sunday with the Cross Country broadcast, which kicks off at 11:00am UK time with the women’s race and at 1:30pm UK time when the men take to the treacherous track.
Steep and deep
Vallnord is the only course on the World Cup circuit that is so steep and deep – over 700 meters / 2,322ft of vertical difference spread over just 2.5 kilometers / 1.56 miles delivers an average descent gradient of 30% and riders need a serious dose of courage to make it down this technically difficult track. Numerous challenges lie hidden in the Andorran forests – hidden roots, rock gardens and high-speed drops – all of which will demand the highest level of focus from the riders. Spectacular runs, high-speed segments and close racing are guaranteed this weekend in La Massana.
Three races have seen three different winners in the Women Elite field: Tahnee Seagrave, Rachel Atherton (both GBR) and Tracey Hannah (AUS) have put their names in the history books this year. Seagrave has only competed once this year and has been out with an injury since Fort William. Myriam Nicole (FRA) is still recovering from a foot injury sustained during the off-season, making the battle for the top step a contest between Atherton and Hannah, both for the Overall World Cup and for World Cup weekend wins. Both have won a race this season and will enter Vallnord as the favorites, but there are a lot of riders ready to challenge the favoritesAtherton or Hannah: who will prove to be the fastest rider when it counts most?
The picture is painted differently when it comes to the men. Nine out of ten last World Cup races have seen a French rider on the top of the podium. Out of these nine, Loic Bruni and Amaury Pierron have four World Cup wins each, and Loris Vergier claims another one. Aaron Gwin was the last winner before the French dominance started. Gwin, who’s amassed 20 World Cup wins secured his last one in the opening race of the 2018 season in Losinj, Croatia. But the American isn’t the only rider who could upset the French dominance in Vallnord – following his second-place finish in Leogang, 37-year-old Greg Minnaar (RSA) has shown he’s still got what it takes to hang with the barrage of young guns and can still challenge every single rider on the World Cup circuit any given race day. Danny Hart (GBR) and Troy Brosnan (AUS) should also be counted amongst the riders eyeing World Cup wins – both riders have finished in the Top 5 at every single World Cup stop this weekend with Brosnan’s consistently finishing in the Top 3. They are the only riders to do so and will be hungry to climb higher. Will the French continue their win streak? Who will manage to break through the French Phalanx?
Womens winner: Rachel Atherton.
Mens winner: Amaury Pierron.