American Aaron Gwin Wins Another Downhill World Cup By An Unbelievable Margin

The Gravity series for the Mountain Bike World Cup returned on Sunday with round two in Val di Sole, Italy, and both the men’s and women’s competitions saw dominating performances by the winners. Rachel Atherton beat the rest of the women’s field by nearly five seconds, while 2011 World Cup champion Aaron Gwin was almost eight seconds ahead of his nearest competitor in the men’s race. Eight seconds! That is like throwing a no-hitter or at least lapping the field at a cross-country event. Val di Sole is known for its highly technical, rough and dusty track, and this year was no different, with new sections of the course buried under soft, loamy dirt that was nearly a foot deep in places.

Sabrina Jonnier was the first woman to spend an extended time in the Hot Seat, but she was then bumped out of contention by a pair of Austrian riders – Anita Molcik and Petra Bernhard – before a trio of French riders took the top spot in quick succession, with Myriam Nicole the first to break the four minute barrier.


However, Nicole’s reign at the top is was brief, with Atherton the next rider on course. Atherton, the world champion here in Val di Sole in 2008, and coming back from a shoulder injury that derailed most of last season and saw her missed the opening round this year, was faster than than any other woman, finishing 4.485 seconds ahead of Nicole.  The only rider remaining was the world champion, Emmeline Ragot, who had qualified first, but she was no match for Atherton, finishing over eight seconds back in third.

“I still can’t quite believe it,” commented Atherton. “The track here is so insane, it’s so long and physical and wild.  I knew that if I was going to win it I had to put everything on the line.  I had a pretty good run and nearly crashed a few times, but you’ve just got to risk it, and I wanted to win.  In the middle I hit a rock and almost went over the bars and I thought ‘No!  I can’t crash, I need to win!’, and I held on.”


Canada’s Miranda Miller was the top North American, in 12th, followed one spot later by American champion Jill Kintner.


Ragot takes the World Cup lead, since Atherton did not compete in the first round, with 370 points, followed by round one winner Tracey Hannah at 322, Nicole at 261 points and Atherton with 240.


The men’s race saw Gwin throw down a tremendous challenge to the rest of the field by finishing over seven seconds ahead of second place Greg Minnaar. Minnaar, the winner of round one and World Cup leader, had won a warm up event in Austria a week earlier, but Aaron was not at that race.

Times were dropping steadily through the 82 rider strong field until Junior-aged Loic Bruni (Lapierre International) threw down the first sub-3:25 time with 30 riders to go.  Bruni held the lead for ten riders before Canada’s Steve Smith took half a second off riding with a dislocated finger, and Smith lasted for 13 riders until Sam Blenkinsop bumped him out by a second. The lead continued to drop by fractions of a second until Minnaar, the second fastest qualifier, held the Hot Seat.

However, despite going nearly six seconds faster than he had in qualifying, Minnaar was still almost two seconds slower than Gwin’s qualifying time and, barring a crash, Gwin was the odds-on favorite as he began his run. The American champion did not disappoint; fastest at both intermediate splits by huge margins, he knocked more than six seconds off his qualifying time to win by 7.85 seconds, a staggering margin when Minnaar had beaten him by a mere 6.32 tenths of a second in the first round. Gee Atherton finished third, followed by team mate Marc Beaumont, with Cameron Cole in fifth.

Amazingly, Gwin was laid back about the run that had everyone shaking their heads. “It was good, a solid run.  I knew it was going to be tough, but I felt good all weekend, so I was just trying to put it together. The track was really, really rough, and I was just riding along for the ride.  I didn’t know what I was doing, I was just trying to hold on. I was just trying to focus on riding, and not that it was a race run or anything else, just trying to get down. I felt like I was sort of on autopilot the whole ride, but usually the good ones are kind of like that, I guess.”

Gwin and Minnaar are tied at 450 points in the World Cup standings, each with a win and a second, however, Gwin takes over the Series’ lead by virtue of the more recent victory. Atherton is third with 315 points, followed by Beaumont at 228 and Smith with 215.

On a more serious note: The very popular Frenchman Cedric Gracia missed the weekens’s race after breaking a leg and fracturing his hip, the result of crashing into a tree earlier in the week during practice.


PRO WOMEN RESULTS
1?Rachel Atherton (GBR) GT Factory Racing…03:49.4
2…Myriam Nicole (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction…03:53.9
3…Emmeline Ragot (Fra) MS Mondraker Team…03:57.5
4…Floriane Pugin (Fra) Scott11…04:04.9
5…Morgane Charre (Fra) Passion Velo.fr    …04:09.7
6…Emilie Siegenthaler (Sui) Scott11…04:12.6
7…Petra Bernhard (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria…04:13.3
8…Anita Molcik (Aut) Four Elements…04:13.8
9…Tracey Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson United Ride…04:21.7
10…Sabrina Jonnier (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team…04:22.7
11…Alia Marcellini (Ita) Torpado Surfing Sho…04:24.4
12…Miranda Miller (Can) SRAM/Santa Cruz…04:26.2
13…Jill Kintner (USA) Team Norco International…04:27.9
14…M‚lanie Pugin (Fra) Team Morzine – Avoriaz / Haute – Savoie…04:28.4
15…C‚line Gros (Fra) Team Morzine – Avoriaz / Haute – Savoie…04:28.7
16…Harriet Rucknagel (Ger)…04:29.2
17…Carina Cappellari (Sui) Team Ridebook…04:30.3
18…Jessica Stone (GBR) Unior Tools Team…04:33.7
19…Caroline Sax (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Batibois Alsace…04:34.5
20…Miriam Ruchti (Sui) SC-Intense…04:48.3


PRO MEN RESULTS
1…Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing…03:10.6
2…Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate…03:18.4
3…Gee Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing…03:19.0
4…Marc Beaumont (GBr) GT Factory Racing…03:19.5
5…Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International…03:20.3
6…Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team…03:20.9
7…Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy-Specialized…03:21.1
8…Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International…03:21.9
9…R‚mi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team…03:21.9
10…Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing…03:22.0
11…Loic Bruni (Fra) Lapierre International…03:22.5
12…Damien Spagnolo (Fra) MS Mondraker Team…03:23.0
13…Bernard Kerr (GBr)…03:23.2
14…Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate…03:23.3
15…Brook Macdonald (NZl) MS Mondraker Team…03:23.3
16…George Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing…03:24.5
17…Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing…03:25.1
18…Nick Beer (Sui) Devinci Global Racing…03:26.3
19…Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof…03:26.6
20…Mickael Pascal (Fra) Ck Racing Santacruz…03:26.8
21…Richard Rude Jr. (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team…03:26.9
22…Joshua Button (Aus) SC-Intense…03:27.0
23…Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr)…03:27.2
24…Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Scott11…03:27.3
25…Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark By W-Racing…03:27.8
26…Florent Payet (Fra) SC-Intense…03:28.2
27…Matthew Beer (Can) Intense Cycles/ Fox Shox…03:28.5
28…Julien Camellini (Fra)…03:28.5
29…Patrick Thome (Fra) Lapierre International…03:28.7
30…Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Batibois Alsace…03:29.0
31…Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Mondraker Team…03:29.0
32…Michael Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson United Ride…03:29.0
33…Marco Milivinti (Ita) Torpado Surfing Shop…03:29.1
34…VILLEGAS Gutierrez (Col) CG Racing Brigade…03:30.0
35…Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof…03:30.3
36…Sam Dale (GBr)…03:30.6
37…Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate…03:30.7
38…Harry Molloy (GBr) Madison Saracen Downhill Team…03:31.4
39…Yoann Barelli (Fra)…03:31.5
40…Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team…03:31.5
41…Connor Fearon (Aus) Kona…03:31.5
42…Eliot Jackson (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team…03:31.6
43…Kyle Sangers (Can) Pivot/Kenda…03:31.8
44…Francisco Pardal (Por)…03:32.3
45…Aur‚lien Giordanengo (Fra) Topcycle By Trek…03:32.3
46…Luke Strobel (USA)…03:32.7
47…Bernat Guardia Pascual (Esp)…03:32.8
48…Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction…03:33.1
49…Faustin Figaret (Fra) SC-Intense…03:33.6
50…Benny Strasser (Ger) Mag41.de Racing Team…03:34.2
51…Gianluca Vernassa * (Ita) Devinci Global Racing…03:34.4
52…Oscar Harnstrom (Swe) Pila-Black Arrows-Mtb Herin School Asd…03:34.5
53…Alexander Kangas (Swe)…03:34.9
54…Fraser Mcglone * (GBr)…03:35.0
55…Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team…03:35.3
56…Johannes Fischbach (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team…03:35.4
57…Miran Vauh (Slo) Crn trn GT…03:35.5
58…Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof…03:35.6
59…Mathieu Gallean (Fra) Dagg – Racing…03:36.5
60…Richard Thomas (GBr)…03:36.8
61…Lewis Buchanan (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof…03:36.8
62…Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team…03:36.9
63…Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team…03:36.9
64…Carlo Caire * (Ita) Argentina Bike Gravity Team…03:37.0
65…Jack Reading (GBr)…03:37.1
66…Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) XCYTT Racing…03:37.1
67…Arthur Parret (Fra) Passion Velo.Fr…03:37.1
68…Manuel Gruber (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria…03:38.9
69…Emyr Davies (GBr)…03:39.5
70…Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team…03:41.1
71…Matthias Stonig (Aut)…03:41.8
72…Lorenzo Suding (Ita) Pila-Black Arrows-MTB Herin School Asd…03:42.9
73…Bryn Atkinson (Aus) Team Norco International…03:44.1
74…Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria…03:44.5
75…Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Hutchinson United Ride…03:47.2
76…Harry Heath (GBr) Unior Tools Team…03:49.0
77…Emanuel Pombo (Por)…03:49.1
78…Nejc Rutar (Slo) Unior Tools Team…03:54.0
79…Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona…04:12.9
80…Benjamin Torrano (Fra)…04:14.3

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