Posted by Editoress on 04/11/15
The first event of the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano got underway on Saturday with qualifying for Sunday's final in Downhill #1 at Lourdes, France. The course is proving to be as difficult as expected with multiple crashes affecting the rankings.
Australian champion Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR) served notice that she is starting the season with great form, finishing first in the women as the only rider to crack the three and half minute mark with three minutes and 29.785 seconds. Former World Cup champion Rachel Atherton (GT Factory) was a distant second, nearly six seconds back. The French duo of Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Vallnord) and Emmeline Ragot (MS Mondraker) took the next two spots, over eight seconds in arrears. World champion and defending World Cup champion Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen) struggled on her run, finishing fifth and 12.588 seconds back.
Canada's only entrant in the women's field, Casey Brown (Bergamont Hayes) did not finish her run, one of many impacted by the steep, rough course. Ranked just outside the top-10 (11th), Brown is, unfortunately, not protected, so she will not race the Final.
For the men, one of the pre-race favourites, the French national champion Loïc Bruni (Lapierre Gravity Republic) gave local fans something to cheer about after posting the fastest time of three minutes and 3.908 seconds. Three riders finished within hundredths of a second of each other for the next three spots - Remi Thirion (Commencal/Vallnord), defending World Cup champion Josh Bryceland (Great Britain) and Neko Mulally (Gstaad-Scott), but all were more than 1.8 seconds behind Bruni.
Missing from the top ranks was world champion Gee Atherton (GT Factory), who crashed heavily and did not finish, although he is a protected rider and can start the final, depending on his injuries. Former World Cup champion Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing) was disqualified after crashing and rejoining the course lower down the mountain, however, he is also on the protected list. Not starting was former World Cup and world champion Sam Hill (Chain Reaction Cycles/Paypal), who is injured.
All three of the Canadian men entered qualified for Sunday's Final, with Mark Wallace (Devinci Global Racing) a very strong 17th. Jack Iles (Norco Factory) qualified 60th and Forrest Riesco 70th.
In the Junior men's seeding run, Laurie Greenland (Trek World Racing) was fastest with a time of 3:09.063, almost three seconds ahead of Andrew Crimmins (Kona Factory), with Alex Marin Trillo (Giant Factory) third at 6.395 seconds.
Canada's lone Junior man, Magnus Manson (Norco Factory), qualified 20th and will race on Sunday.
World Cup Final takes place on Sunday. The Junior Men start the racing at 1230h, followed by the Elite Women at 1315h and the Elite Men at 1400h (all times European).
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