Finnley Iles © Fraser Britton
May 01, 2017 (Lourdes, France) – Canadian DH riders managed to produce their best weekend of results in recent memory as the season kicked off with the opening round of the 2017 UCI MTB World Cup DH series in Lourdes, France, where reigning World Champion Finn Isles (Specialized Gravity) delivered a gold medal final run in the Junior Men’s event, while Mark Wallace (Canyon Factory) finished on a World Cup podium for the first time with second place in the Elite men’s race. Reiging national champ, Miranda Miller (Specialized Gravity), claimed 6th in the Elite women’s event.
Finn Iles © Specialized Gravity
Isles qualified third but stepped it up for the final as he continues his control of the junior men’s event, furthering his winning streak with a victory this weekend in France nailing a brilliant time that would have placed him on the Elite men’s podium among the men who also rode in dry conditions. Iles, who is the 2016 World Cup overall Junior Men’s series champion along with the defending champ at Lourdes, won by over three and a half seconds to take the lead in the Junior Men’s World Cup competition.
Rachel Atherton © Fraser Britton
For the women, Rachel Atherton (Gbr) Trek Factory Racing DH continues her domination, despite being bested in the qualifications by Tahnee Seagrave (Gbr) Transition Bikes / FMD Factory Racing who would go on to finish 3rd behind Polygon UR’s Tracey Hannah of Australia in the finals.
Elite Women's podium (l-r) Nicole 4th, Hannah 2nd, Atherton 1st, Seagrave 3rd, Carpenter 5th © Fraser Britton
Canada’s Miller, who qualified 8th, moved the needle in the right direction for a strong 6th-place finish in women’s final just off the podium by 2 seconds. Miller, who got her first taste of landing on the World Cup podium last year, was happy with her weekend commenting, “My race run was a big improvement from qualifying and definitely a step in the right direction. I made a couple mistakes that I definitely regret, but even so I’m really happy with how the weekend went with the new team and crew. [I’m] fired up for the next rounds!”
Miranda Miller © Fraser Britton
Alexandre Fayolle (Fra) Polygon UR took his first-ever World Cup victory as the last rider down the mountain before the weather turned ugly in the Elite Men’s event as heavy rains and howling winds moved in suddenly with 10 top riders still to go.
Alexandre Fayolle © Fraser Britton
The course went from dusty, fast and rough to unrideable in a matter of minutes as mother nature had her say. The once drippy granite rocks littering the course turned to ice as they were coated in slimy dirt. None of the final top men could master the course and Fayolle become the first French rider to win on home soil since Christian Taillefer at Les Gets in 1998.
Mark Wallace © Fraser Britton
He was joined on the podium by Canada’s Wallace in second with Colombian Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) in 3rd. Canuck Forrest Riesco finished 35th.
Forrest Riesco © Fraser Britton
Wallace had the result of his career, but knew the weather was a factor. “Eventhough it was my best finish and first podium it doesn’t feel like I completely earned it due to the weather. It’s unfortunate that something uncontrollable like the weather has such a big effect on results.
Elite Men's podium (l-r) Payet 4th, Wallace 2nd, Fayolle 1st, Gutierrez 3rd, Fearon 5th © Fraser Britton
“But I guess that’s just part of competing in an outdoor sport. Especially one in the mountains. That being said, I felt like I rode better today than I have in a while and was happy with my run so it was a good weekend,” said Wallace post race.
Racing continues at Round 2 in Fort William, Scotland in early June.
Elite Men here
Elite Women here
Junior Men here