So I’m in catch up mode here, by now the whole world knows what went down at the DH finals in Meribel, so there are no big surprises with whats in store, but I will still bring the Dirty perspective to the events that unfolded here at the last DH World Cup of the year.
Apologies if the first half of this post is reminiscent of yesterdays, that will be due to:
- Practice being on in the morning, so a good time to catch some more PRO gnar smashing
- It was hard to not love that top rock section and gap jump
The main difference on race day? The weather… Fuck it was cold up top, like, “Fuck is it going to rain and turn this into a massacre” type cold:
If you want to hunt PRO’s, then its always a good call to stake out choke points, the road from the chairlift to the start gate being a fertile location to take embarrassing iPhone pictures and sheepishly say ‘Hi’ to two wheeled hero’s. They don’t come much bigger than this combo either, how many times have these two rolled to the start of a World Cup practice run?! Probably in the thousands combined:
And here’s where the final Final of the year kicked off from. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to hear those beeps and know for the next 3 mins and 20 seconds or so you’re going to be subjected to being on the absolute limit of what a mountain bike is capable of… Racing THE fastest riders on the planet with the knowledge that one small error or mechanical means its all over, one run, one chance. No pressure:
I loved the first rock section, probably because it was so fucking scetchy, plus it demanded the riders to keep it together to hit the bridge and road gap and then carry the speed through the next section. Connor Fearon was looking on it:
I really REALLY wanted to get Ratboy in this top Rock Section, as he was basically one of the few to jump over the whole fucking thing, but, like it was for the rest of the field, he was too quick for me and my pudding fist hands:
And now – A sequence of mega PRO frothing
Yip, here we go… Starting with Brosnan, who also essentially seemed to jump most of the top rock section, it was quite a contrast to the bulk who banged their way through:
Blenki was looking fucking pinned… What knee injury? Dude is awesome:
He wasn’t the only Kiwi on fire though, the Bulldog was burning the house down as well, massively helped on by my teenage girl cheering action:
Probably the best shot I nabbed up top in practice was Mr Minnaar… I have to say, aside from that beautiful new V10c, he tends to look the most PRO, all the kit is perfect, he is super smooth (line choice I’m talking) and just appears composed:
Any good post regurgitation wouldn’t be complete without some more ROAD GAP! Have to say, the way these dudes kill this thing make it a bit of an anti climax almost, they nail it to pieces every time… The most impressive thing is the speed they carry in and out, needs to be seen to be believed. Here was have Kiwi National Champ George Brannigan getting it done with a Motoman style mini whip:
All the superstars were lining up to get their final pracie runs in, here in this mini montage we have Gee Atherton and Loic Bruni sending that shit before the finals:
I’d be shit down here, not only as I can’t jump, but am also a complete pussy (not from Tao Payoh) when it comes to gaps and big drops. I would also be too busy checking out that view, no such worries for Marcelo Guiterrez:
There were a lot of fans on course today, it was getting pretty rammed in places… And the SHAM fans were out in force as well, this one wearing the correct SHAM Fan uniform of a dress, thank you cycling gods for dropping this one right in front of me:
Two hardest things about watching a World Cup DH race are (massive first world problems these, shit its tough):
- The ‘where do I stand?’ debate – So many sections to choose from… Where is the best spot?
- The ‘how do I keep my photo shit charged’ dilemma – I was in a constantly losing battle with my iPhone and Go PRO to stay charged to catch some of the action, annoying.
In the end, I made the call the best spot to watch the finals was down near the finish, mainly as I couldn’t be fucked with more trekking, but also due to the finish jump being rad, you got to see the live timing AND I wanted to be at the epicentre of fever when Ratboy took the overall. Lots of people seemed to have the same idea:
I provided so much chick action in yesterdays post that I felt the need for some gender equality today, so have mainly focused on the mens racing as I feel its under promoted. But, I did get this quick shot of Rach winning the Women’s race, not a bad effort after Ragot tore the field apart with a smoking time:
And then it was hero time! The advantage of being at the bottom of the course was you could see the split times, so handy to know if the rider you were teenage girl screaming for was doing well or not. It was also handy to get you ready to snap a few pics… Blenki on his race run, sending it to the line:
Who went the biggest on the finish jump? Mr Minnaar… I figure that he didn’t have a great run, so was like “Fuck it” and decided to go big… Resulting in a nasty crash into the barriers, ouch. This is the take off, he lands on the white line that is out of shot here… Faaaaark:
And here is his touch down… I had to crop in a bit, but if you look closely at the back end of the bike its a massively squashed moment for that rear Fox shock and Enve wheel! Fucking get some:
If you took a poll around town, I would hazard a guess that the most popular results for the weekend that everyone would have wanted would have been:
- Sam Hill for the race win
- Ratboy for the overall series win
Well, guess fucking what… Popularity won the day and we got both! I will admit to having nervous anticipation when watching the finals, even when Brosnan and Gwin put in average runs, all it takes in a WC is a flat, crash or silly mechanical and the overall title is goooone… I watched Ratboys run nervously, fucking hoping to see those split times looking GOOD. And then, right on time, he was across that final ramp and into the history books as the 2014 World Cup Champion!!!
What happens when you’re one of the most popular riders on the circuit and you win the World Cup overall in the same year that you win your first World Cup races? The whole place goes fucking MENTAL, that’s what, cue the course invasion:
I felt for Matt Simmons, he was still coming down the course, but people were already heading down the hill to go feral on it massively. No sooner was he across the line than it started to erupt. I tried to get a shot in here of Rat getting his post race interview, but some pesky French podium girls got in the fucking way, sigh, operational hazards:
And then it was on… Jumping barriers and picking up the RAT! Not to mention a lot of Go PRO’s being rammed in his face on sticks… As you do (Germans):
You can see from the looks on peoples faces how mega pumped everyone was, this was a massively popular victory. Not to sound like a cock, but I can’t imagine the same scenes if anyone else had taken the overall, apart from maybe Sam Hill. The atmosphere was going off:
I took advantage of the general euphoria to push aside little kids and scratch a couple more big celeb scalps off my stalking list, and they don’t come much bigger than this either! These pics confirm that if I want to take any more celeb selfies, I need longer arms… Thanks Sam Dale for photo bombing my Mr Minnaar shot:
Not wanting to miss out on the Dirty Action, Peaty also asked me for a pic, he makes a pretty cool documentary, so thought it would be nice to make his day:
Only two things left to sign off on in this mega post… The podium shots! Its a long process, but here in summary is the Women’s top 5:
And the mens top 5 from the day:
Simply and awesome spectacle and day… A privilege to watch and I would recommend coming to a World Cup as a must do for any Mountain Biker even remotely interested in Downhill. You won’t ever see mountain bikes being ridden like this, on terrain like this anywhere else. Its the pinnacle of the sport and you’ll soon realise what these people do is fucking amazing from a sporting perspective.
Its now Sunday and apparently there are some XC races on, so I’m off for a shred on the Nomad!