Like the record high temperatures hitting Europe right now, Vallnord World Cup is bringing the heat. With tight margins and new faces, Friday’s downhill qualifying was an exciting start to the combined XC/DH weekend.
Canadians seemed at home in the mountains, mostly. Four junior men qualified inside the top 10. In the elite race, five Canadians are through to finals, though Finn Iles took a slightly rocky road to get there.
Elite Men DH Qualifying – World Cup Vallnord, Andorra
Loic Bruni (Specialized Gravity Racing) was the fastest in Friday’s qualifying, but only by a razor thin margin. Troy Brosnan (Canyon Factory Racing) was just one hundredth of a second behind Bruni’s time of 4:14.395.
The French domination of World Cup downhill continues in Andorra. Last year’s World Cup winner Amaury Pierron was third fastest down the mountain, racing on team sponsor Commencal-Vallnord’s home turf. Loris Vergier (Santa Cruz Syndicate) in fourth made for three french riders in the top five. Austrian David Trummer qualified fifth.
Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory Racing) was the fastest Canadian in elite men’s qualifying, ranking 11th going into Saturday’s finals. Finn Iles was flying, setting the second fastest time of the day through the first to intermediate time checks. A mechanical led to a DNF but, as a protected rider, Iles still gets a spot in finals.
Forrest Riesco (Commencal Canada)was the next fastest of the five Canadian’s to qualify for the elite men’s race in 39th. First year elite Kendall McLean was 49th. Henry Fitzgerald (Norco Factory Team) just squeezed inside the cutoff in 58th. Canadian national champion Magnus Manson (Canyon Factory Racing) found himself just on the other side of that cutoff, in 77th.
Elite Women DH Qualifying – World Cup Vallnord, Andorra
The women’s race saw a new face set the fastest qualifying time. Germany’s Nina Hoffmann has been moving steadily up the ranks, and was the fastest on Friday. Marine Cabirou (Scott Downhill) was just 0.541 seconds back, though. Rachel Atherton (Atherton Racing) was third fastest, 3.028 back.
After qualifying first at each of the first three World Cup rounds, Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR) was back in 13th on Friday. The Australian could still be in contention tomorrow, as she was fastest through the first three split times.
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Junior Men and Women Qualifying – World Cup Vallnord, Andorra
Thibault Daprela (Commencal Vallnord) and Valentina Höll (SRAM TLD) were once again the top junior qualifiers on Friday.
Behind Höll, American Anna Newkirk (SRAM Young Guns) was second, 5.985 seconds behind the dominant Austrian junior. Atherton Racing’s Millie Johnset qualified third.
Seth Sherlock was the fastest of four Canadian junior men to make it through to Saturday’s final. All four finished inside the top 10. Sherlock was sixth, followed by Elliot Jamieson (Norco Factory Racing) in seventh and Patrick Laffey (Devinici Development Racing) in eighth. Lucas Cruz (SRAM TLD) was the final Canadian to make it through, finishing 10th.
Ian Milley (29th) and Emmett Hancock (37th) missed the 15 rider cutoff, but still finished well up in the 66 rider junior men’s field.