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World Cup Vallnord

 

World Cup 2019 - Vallnord

Juillet 08 — 2019 | Vallnord, Andorra

After a short break, World Cup DH returned for the first of two consecutive weekends of racing this season. First up, Vallnord, Andorra where we witnessed Loris take his first Elite World Cup win last year. The track in Vallnord is the most physically challenging of the season with all the features that make up a World Cup track forcing riders to take chances and play their cards at keeping their speed in check and line choices dialed. Aside from being physically demanding this is also the steepest track on the circuit, and this year would bring an added element of difficulty - the driest, loosest, and roughest conditions ever seen in Andorra made the track unpredictable.  

Loris Vergier2nd5th overall
Greg Minnaar11th6th overall
Luca Shaw18th22nd overall

After a day of checking out the new line options and configuring the V10s, it was time to get dusty and put in some time between the tape during practice runs on Thursday. 

Friday’s qualifiers welcomed the boys to a track that had been beaten down from previous days as they surfed a heavily rutted track to get up to speed in preparation for race day. The Syndicate all qualified in the top 20 and were looking confident and ready to race. Greg qualified 20th, Luca 10th, and Loris 4th. 

 

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Sven Martin

After some wise words from Coach Peaty, Luca did some hedge trimming on the high, tight lines.

When racing at high altitude the weather can often be unpredictable but this weekend remained consistently hot, dry as can be, and not a drop of rain fell. After practice and qualis the ruts, holes, and braking bumps were deeper than ever and would prove to be extremely challenging. The smallest mistakes would cost valuable time. 

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Santa Cruz Image
Sven Martin

Another day at the beach for Greg. Sandy, deeply rutted corners held surprises all over the course.

Finals began and numerous riders bit the dust as they found the limits of the track. With the top 20 men in the start queue, the first to drop in for the Syndicate was Greg Minnaar; he’s been second here three times and was on the hunt for his 22nd World Cup win. Greg picked his way down the treacherous track with veteran skill and precise line choices but despite showing fast splits early on in his run, he would ultimately finish 11th on the day. 

Part finish berm and part finish-line equalizer. A little high or low and you were eating shale for lunch.

Luca Shaw was the fastest qualifier here last year and he’s been on the rise since recovering from the injury he started the season with. He came out smooth and efficient on track and at the early splits he was down from the leader’s time by less than a second, a minimal deficit that Luca can typically pull back. But as he entered the steeper sections, he lost some valuable seconds and crossed the line into 9th place. After the dust settled Luca would finish 18th on the day — he’s getting his confidence back and coming back into form as he continues the season. 


Until this point in the race, the riders in the hot seat hadn't shifted around much, but as the final ten riders began to hit the track, the lead shifted quickly. Tight, closely matched times meant that the hot seat swapped from Thirion, to Macdonald, and then from Macdonald to Hart just before the Syndicate's final rider dropped into his run.

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Sven Martin

"When this thing gets up to 88mph, you're going to see some serious sh**."

Loris has been riding and racing with a small wrist injury but has remained consistently fast and this weekend was no different. After taking the win here last season, he was out to rewrite history and become the first rider to win Andorra for a second time. While humble and composed during pre-race interviews Loris came out attacking and lit up the splits green as he continued to put time into Hart. Vergier stayed on the gas and kept it loose but in control throughout his run to smash the time to beat by just over five seconds - a time that seemed unbeatable. His time stuck until the last rider to go, Loïc Bruni, was able to pull off the win by a mere .4 seconds. Loris would take second on the day, an incredible effort and result in this year’s conditions. 


Now it’s time to rest up because the Syndicate is back between the tape at Les Gets in less than a week. Can the French continue to dominate in their home country?

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Sven Martin

Another weekend, another reason to celebrate, and another fitting family portrait.

 

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