Collective hoping seemed to just about hold off the rain that had been forecast for most of last week… Then, just like the perfectly inappropriate timing of a bursting toddler, and with the eyes of ‘the world’ tuned in for the last 30 men in the MTB World Cup 2021 downhill final, it decided it couldn’t hold on any longer… And once it started, it didn’t stop. Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!…. Oooooohhhhhhh…
It actually highlighted one of the many reasons that this sport is so awesome… To many, it would seem unfair that the fastest qualifiers from the previous day now stood no chance of being competitive against earlier dry times, and it is… But, those times and those performances were still very good and everyone is still stoked for the success of their fellow riders – despite the circumstances.
The riders and the fans know that in a sport spent on the limit and immersed in the natural environment, ultimately, Mother Nature is the boss. We are insignificant in relation and you’ve just got to roll with the punches, make the most of it and have a good time come what may.
Watching the last man Loic Bruni cross the line, then being mobbed by fans kind of sums it up. As the fastest qualifier he was favourite to win but only managed 50th place and despite the futility in the conditions, he still rode to the limit, the fans loved it and he loved the reaction.
We all love riding bikes down hills, we all get the same sensation of riding and of pushing our own limits. We all know there’s the potential it’ll bite back when you least expect it and we all know the level that these guys and girls operate at. The respect and glory are relative, regardless of the results. They all deserve respect for their performances this weekend. There are also some gems that sparkle in the mud like Reese Wilson’s, whose wet run – up until his superman crash – was blistering!.. And duly noted by one and all.
An amazing weekend though… It was great to experience a big event again with loads of people and heaps of atmosphere. We met a bunch of mates and herded all our kids to the top of Mont Chèry to walk the track back down through the junior competitions, elite practice, the women’s and most of the men’s finals.
It’s a great way to get to see action on the whole track and also to get up close and personal with the details of the course. It’s always steeper than it looks on the telly too! This brings home the skill and balls of these guys when you can barely get down on foot without slipping, sliding, falling over and clinging on to trees. It always cracks me up seeing people scrambling uphill with pints of beer which they must have been carrying, and determined not to spill a drop of, for 20 minutes or more.
The huge road gap was a highlight (slash – blood-pressure-nightmare!) in the top section. As we reached the halfway point along the course we got the great news from Redbull Tv and the live timings that Tahnee Seagrave had bagged the women’s win. Well done Tahnee!
I think my favourite part of the course is one of the steepest and rootiest sections. It is immediately followed by the ‘Creek Gap’ (or ‘Reese Wilson Superman Sender’ as it should now be known), then a landing and away full chat across that off-camber meadow.
We timed the descent so we could soak up the atmosphere and watch all the action from the fastest qualifiers on the big screen at the finish line before the atmosphere would erupt for the winners. We were soaked and shivering by the end but what an atmosphere and what a day!
UCI World Cup Cross Country Les Gets
We moved house on Sunday which left us with limited viewing opportunities. Bad timing… But we had been keeping up with the other XC action and did manage to get out to catch the men’s XC Olympic final. The weather had had a taste of the limelight now and knowing that the live broadcast was up and running again, it figured it’d get in on the action again and release another deluge.
It didn’t affect the levelness of the playing field this time though. Everyone’s in the same boat (It might have been easier in a boat) and they’ve all got to deal with the same conditions at the same time. Total mud bath and in all honesty, it looked like great fun.
There was a lot more steeze out there to than I was expecting. Some of those guys put on a style show for the crowds on some of the jumps including men’s winner Mathias Flüekiger, who seemed to struggle to leave the ground without giving it a big whip or a tweak, good lad!
Big congratulations all the winners. Well done Thibault Dapréla and Tahnee Seagrave in the DH. Congrats to Mathias Flüeckiger and Loana Lecompte for their XC Olympic distance wins and to Pauline Ferrand Prevot and Flüekiger again in the XC short track.
And finally, bravo Les Gets, bravo UCI, bravo trail builders, elite competitors, junior competitors, teams, volunteers and supporters. A cracking few days of action and we thoroughly enjoyed the MTB World Cup 2021. Merci beaucoup!