Whistler’s Finn Iles qualified second on Friday after a late storm soaked the steep, technical Val di Sole downhill World Cup track.
Only Amaury Pierron (Commencal Vallnord), the winner of the last two World Cup rounds in Leogang and Fort William, could beat the young Canadian’s qualifying time. Iles (Specialized Gravity Racing) led Pierron through the first three time checks on course before the French rider, who currently leads the World Cup series, pulled ahead near the bottom of the track.
Iles is racing his first year in the Elite category after a successful Junior career where he won Junior downhill world championships and the Junior World Cup overall title. He will be joined in Saturday’s downhill World Cup in Val di Sole by fellow Canadians Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory Racing), who advanced to the finals as a “protected” rider, and Henry Fitzgerald (Norco Factory Racing) who qualified 20th.
Finals for the Val di Sole World Cup downhill run early on Saturday, 7 July 2018, and can be watched live on Red Bull TV.
The Elite Women’s field will be lacking in Canadians on Saturday. Rachel Pageau (Unior Devinci) was riding in qualifying position through the second time check at her first ever World Cup downhill before sliding outside the 15 rider cutoff by the end of her qualifying run. Pageau finished just ahead of Squamish, B.C.’s Miranda Miller (Specialized Gravity Racing). The reigning world champion has struggled with injury all season, and surely must be starting to believe in the curse of the rainbow stripes.
In the Junior Men’s field, Lucas Cruz of Pemberton, B.C. qualified fourth in Italy. The promising young Canadian has several strong results to his name already in his first year on the World Cup circuit, including a podium at the opening round in Croatia.
Ben Wallace and Kendall McLean both narrowly missed the 20 rider cutoff for the Junior Men’s final, Wallace by less than a second.
For a riders perspective on the Val di Sole World Cup track, follow Brendan Fairclough down a practice run in Italy. Then try to imagine the same course soaking wet and slick after a surprise storm: