A Mountain Bike World Cup like you’ve never seen before!
Les Gets more like LETS GOOOOO! If you missed the action packed schedule that filled the iconic venue in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, south-eastern France, worry not, as we’ve got a breakdown on all the juicy events that took part!
From old icons to rising junior stars, each event had its own heart stopping moments! After eighteen years since it last hosted the UCI MTB World Championship (2004), Les Gets returned with a bang. The programme featured XCO | XC Team Relay | XC Short Track | Downhill Individual | E-MTB races that would crown the next world champion.
With 15 different rainbow stripes ready to be handed out, the national teams and their selected riders exploded upon the Alpine resort. Training sessions began at mid-day on Monday and stayed prominent throughout the week until the last set of competitions were set to begin on Sunday morning. Swarms of fans filled the hillsides showing their full support for all who would take on the gruelling tracks of Les Gets!
Kicking things off would be the XC Team Relay. With 18 different countries representing Europe, New Zealand, Australia, USA, and Canada, the fans would be in for a great show.
As the racing kicked off, the favourites quickly whittled down to Switzerland, Italy and the USA, who took an advantageous lead over the other teams. Separated by a gap of just 6 seconds, the Swiss team would be crowned champions with Italy finishing second and USA taking the final podium place.
An average speed of 15.9 km/h covered the 3.43km circuit, with the fastest lap coming from French native, Jordan Sarrou clocking in a time of 10mins 58sec.
As the Team Relay crowned its champions, all eyes fell on the Junior Women’s XCO race. Featuring a strong turn out of 63 riders. Only 43 riders would finish the gnarly 3.43km circuit with Switzerland’s Monique Halter putting in a tremendous effort over her fellow country woman Lea Huber. Securing a gap of 1min 16secs to help win the rainbow stripes. With another two medals secured for the Swiss team, Natalia Grzegorzewska would take home the bronze medal for Poland.
The Junior Men’s XCO would bring mouth dropping moments to the top 3 as, Germany’s Paul Schehl secured the rainbow stripes with a gap of 18 secs to Switzerland’s Jan Christen. Paul Magnier completed the trio and provided France with its first medal of the week. Only 6 seconds would separate the 2nd and 3rd place. Talk about cutting it close!
Thursday opened up with an energetic, Peter Sagan making his E-MTB WC debut for Slovakia, bringing great press-coverage to the newly emerging MTB discipline. He would finish 16th overall in the Men’s category as Jerome Gilloux would take the top spot with Hugo Pigeon and Joris Ryf making up the remainder of the podiums.
The Women’s E-MTB XC would keep things interesting as Nicole Goldi and Nathalie Schneitter took 1st and 3rd place for Switzerland with the French-born, Justine Ton taking 2nd.
Wrapping up the day, the Women’s Elite XC Short Track would prove to be a battle to the finish. Recording an average speed of 29.5km/h across the 1.2km circuit, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot took home her fourth set of rainbow stripes with an 18 secs lead over Alessandra Keller who came home in 2nd place.
Losing out in the sprint finish, Gwendalyn Gibson secured the final podium spot with 3 seconds separating the 2nd and 3rd places. Jolanda Neff would fight it out with Evie Richards as they finished in 4th and 5th with yet another 3 seconds separating the pair.
New Zealand’s Samuel Gaze fought hard to complete the gruelling 12 laps in 22mins 21secs in the Men’s Elite XC Short Track. With the race scoring an average speed of 32.2km/h. Switzerland’s Filippo Colombo and Thomas Litscher would respectively come home 2nd and 3rd with marginal times yet again separating the top 3 spots.
Friday turned to Saturday and all eyes were set on the DHI riders that made the qualifying start-list. Sketchy road gaps, dusty wooded sections all combined with an insane average speed of 45km/h helped kick off the Junior Women’s race. Race favourite, Gracey Hemstreet, who is currently leading the DHI Women’s Junior World Cup put in a blistering time of 4mins 20.411secs . The Canadian would be dethroned by New Zealand’s Jenna Hastings holding a split of 1.870 seconds to the race favourite. Third place fell to Colombia’s Valentina Sanchez finishing 15.9 seconds back from the first place.
In the Junior Men’s, fan favourite, Jackson Goldstone would miss out on the rainbow stripes suffering a crash that would put him into 14th place. Great Britain’s Jordan Williams would take the top spot with Australia’s Remy Meier-Smith finishing 5.9 secs off the pace in second and Italy’s Davide Cappello completing the podium.
As the youngsters finished putting on their show, getting the fans riled up, Valentina Holl’s long-time coming WC win sent the crowd into a spiralling frenzy. Taking the top spot from Nina Hoffman by just 0.9 hundredths of a second, the Austrian woman had finally manage to deliver on the day. Myriam Nicole secured the 3rd spot from Camille Balanche, who had just recovered from a broken-collar injury only 16 days prior.
The excitement was hard to contain as the Men’s Elite final began. With an all-french podium, Loic Bruni took the top step putting in a staggering 2.5 sec split to Amaury Pierron who finished second. Loris Vergier stole the last spot from Troy Brosnan by just 0.600 seconds, topping off the french-trio at the Men’s Elite. Aaron Gwin would clock in the fastest speed at 58.6 km/h.
Ireland’s Henry Kerr put himself into P.9 ahead of Ronan Dunne who finished in P.16. As the Bruni crossed the finish-line, French fans engulfed the track in a frenzy. The scenes were just spectacular. See for yourself!
Sunday opened up with the U23 Women’s XCO and France’s Line Burquier would steal the win with a commanding lead of 43 seconds over Netherland's very own Puck Pieterse. Denmark’s Sofie Pedersen was on a hot pursuit but just fell short. Rounding the top 3 up, the girls put in an average speed of 14.4km/h over the extreme 17.15km course. Italy’s Simone Avondetto would be crowned Men’s U23’s champion with a gap of 28 secs over France’s Mathis Azzaro. Switzerland’s Luca Schatti would complete the podium with the U23 Men’s averaging 17.4km/h over the 20.5 circuit.
Last up, was the Women’s and Men’s Elite XCO. A strong case of deja vu hounded the women’s pack, with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot picking up yet another set of rainbow stripes. Jolanda Neff would lag behind to the top spot with a gap of 1.35 secs. Haley Batten would take the final podium place with Loana LeComte finishing in 4th place and Alessandra Keller coming home in 5th.
Magical moments supposedly only come once in a lifetime, this however doesn’t seem to be the case for Nino Schurter. The iconic Swiss rider took home his 10th set of rainbow stripes. Spain’s David Valero Serrano would finish second just 9 seconds behind Schurter. Italy’s Luca Braidot would take the third place with Tom Pidcock finishing fourth a minute behind Braidot.