The UCI Mountain Bike World Champs is the final race of the 2016 calendar. It is an all or nothing event the racers build up to each year to mark the end of the season… with the hope of coming away with the rainbow stripes and the honour of being forever a “World Champion”.
The Val Di Sol track in Italy was a fitting test for the riders. One of the most gnarly, steep and wideopen tracks of the year… Many riders were finding it tough simply riding the track as a pose to full scale racing it.
Fresh back from injury and on a high from recent podiums, 2015 World Champion Loic Bruni was still suffering a weakened shoulder from a crash in Whistler. This was his race to defend, with his Specialized Demo fitted with the covated number 1 plate.
Team mate Loris Vergier has been consitently fast this year and there is talk of him being a hot prospect for next season. Loris had some demons to battle as he’s suffered some recent bad luck/ mechanicals in the last few World Cup rounds.
Junior Finn Iles, the World Cup Champion is high on life right now… the first year junior has come into his own on the World Cup circuit, but Finn made no secret of the fact a Junior World Championship title would be the icing on the cake of his epic year.
The first glimpse’s of track walk had the riders excited, while the first days of practise caused some worries. Although Loic and Loris were hitting the track in their signature flowing style, Finn hit the ground hard! Taking the time to get fully checked out and the final “OK”.. Finn was sore, but back on track ready for timed training and race day.
Race day for the World Champs is the big one… Nervous, pumped and excited the riders take to the track based on their seeding times set on Saturday.
What a race! tough and emotionally unfair, gnarly and exciting… Bad times for Loic Bruni, flat out and wild into the first big corner, a stray rock caught Loic’s back wheel ending his race before it begun with a rear puncture. Loris Vergier was aiming for the fast smooth run we’re so used too, but crashed through the dust and lost enough time that would be impossible to recover from.
While Finn took it to the red line and walked away with the Win! A tough week for the young junior, Finn held it together under pressure and walks away with the rainbow stripes. We are so stoked to have supported the Specialized Gravity team throughout the 2016 season!
What. A. Year!!
Photo’s Thanks as ever – Dave Trumpore