With the 5th round of the World Cup, this weekend the resort of Halfjell looked like a giant rehearsal for the 2014 World Championships.
The riders were unanimous about the track (unlike the World Championships 2 weeks ago): roots, rocks, speed, big jumps ,... probably the best track of the year!
With dry conditions for the first three days, riders were treated to much more difficult weather for Sunday's final, which turned the track to very slippery terrain. Looking back in detail on the different races:
In the Juniors, Loris Vergier, just crowned with the title of vice-world champion and holder of the leader jersey of the World Cup, crashed heavily during training, lost consciousness and was taken to hospital... not exactly the best way to prepare a DH World Cup! He was advised to rest for 5 days. But the young gun is strong and wanted to defend his chances. He took 10th place in the qualifs! Simply amazing. In the final, he proved that he has a mind of steel and took 5th place ... Not bad for someone who was supposed to be resting. In the overall classification he’s back in second place behind Michael Jones but can still fight for the win in Leogang next week.
In the Womens, Emmeline Ragot was the only one to compete with Rachel Atherton in the qualifications run. She took 2nd place finishing less than a second off the time of the British rider. The other girls were far, far away (more than 8 seconds for third place). In the final, Emmeline gave 100% because she wanted to put Rachel under pressure. Unfortunately, she made a mistake and lost a lot of time but still took 5th place on the podium! Rachel Atherton’s winning streak continued and she won seven seconds ahead of Manon Carpenter and Myriam Nicole, 3rd .
In the Elite Mens, Loic Bruni and Sam Blenkinsop both love the track, are both fit and both rolled out their 27.5 DH Team!
Loic performed his best ever qualification run and took an incredible 3rd place, just behind Gee Atherton and Mick Hannah. Blenky remained consistent and took 8th place.
Conditions completely changed for the final. Blenky demonstrated that he excels in the mud and rode with style and control. Under conditions similar to Champéry in 2011, he finished behind Danny Hart and Andrew Neethling, who rode earlier on more favorable terrain.
Stevie Smith was the only one to beat them and claimed his second victory in a row in Halfjell ... Blenky finished in 4th place = World Cup podium!
In the last practice runs on Sunday morning, Loic Bruni crashed and injured his finger. Despite this, he attacked the final all guns blazing and was in 3rd place at Split 1! Unfortunately he crashed again in a corner where many riders went down. He lost a lot of time and finally took 33rd place. Disappointing of course, but he proved during the whole week-end that he had the podium in his legs.
With one round remaining, Blenky is now in 6th in the overall classification. A place that confirms a consistent season for the Kiwi in the World top10, added to this his 4th place at the World Championships and his World Series Enduro podium, it’s hard to find a rider at the front of the pack as often as him! Loic lost a few points and is now 9th in the overall. But anything is still possible in the final round for our two riders.
Important fact: this is the first podium for a 27.5 in a DH World Cup ...
In the team standings, Team LP Gravity Republic is still in 2nd place this year and has established itself as a leader in the team paddock. Let’s go to Leogang now!
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