A summer storm brought slippery and changing track conditions to the Downhill World Cup race in Les Gets, France. Tahnee Seagrave and Thibaut Daprela were the two riders who were able to master the mud and go fastest.
The women were the first race on Saturday, with Mille Johnset setting an early time, 16-seconds up. Then eventual-winner Seagrave set her fast time of 4:10.566.
"I don’t feel like I have the fitness at the moment so I was so so surprised," Seagrave said after the race. "I guess on a track like this and conditions like that it paid off to be clean and smooth and safe”
“It's just been such a journey the past few years being so gnarly, so I would have been happy without the win today. I’m gutted that Pom-Pom crashed but I think either way I was right up there."
Last round's winner and World Champion Camille Balanche put in a solid effort but lost four seconds due to slippery and rainy conditions. Vali Holl, who came second in Leogang, suffered another crash within shouting distance of the finish line, slotting into sixth place.
Myriam Nicole was on pace but was three-tenths of a second off Seagrave's time.
Fourth-place qualifier Nina Hoffmann did not race in the finals because of a training crash, a similar scenario to what played out in Leogang. Another rider who missed the race was Marine Cabirou. The Frenchwoman crashed in practice and did not suffer any fractures but elected not to race due to bruising on her legs.
In the men's race, Germany's Max Hartenstern set an early benchmark time of 3:35.840, and Daprela was the only man to go fastest.
Changing track conditions meant that many of the top racers, such as fastest qualifier Loic Bruni, were more than 30-seconds off the pace.
Daprela, who took the win amid ecstatic home-country fans, had a roller-coaster week. Last week, he suffered a tongue laceration and a broken nose at a French Cup race. However, the racer who had a breakout ride in Leogang was cleared by doctors to race. He put in an incredible run, winning with a margin of almost two seconds.
"Yeah it was very hard," Daprela said. "Even yesterday I couldn’t ride. And today I was on it and just send it."
Last round's champion, Troy Brosnan, had a challenging weekend as well, crashing in both his qualifying and finals runs. He now sits second in the World Cup overall competition, more than 100 points behind Daprela.
The crashes didn't stop there. World Champion Reece Wilson was on an impressive run when he crashed near the bottom of the track, flying over his handlebars after being bucked off the lip of a jump. However, the Scotsman got up and rode down to the finish line.
There was still a race to take points for the overall competition, even though it was unlikely that riders would be able to earn a spot on the podium. Experienced riders like Greg Minnaar put in consistent runs, drawing on years-worth of racing experience.
After the race, Daprela had encouraging words for his teammate and countryman Amaury Pierron, who won at this venue in 2019 but missed Saturday's race due to injuries suffered at the French Cup race.
"I love you Mau-Mau, and I think you’ll be recover fast. I miss him already. I miss him on the races."
Pierron's brother, Baptiste, took third place, just a tenth of a second off Hartenstern in a breakout World Cup ride.
The next World Cup round is scheduled for August 14-15 in Maribor, Slovenia.