Gold in Andorra for Australia’s Troy Brosnan, France’s Myriam Nicole at 4th UCI World Cup downhill race
Special to the Daily
Australia’s Troy Brosnan and France’s Myriam Nicole captured thrilling UCI World Cup downhill victories at an action-packed round four in Vallnord, Andorra, over the weekend.
France’s Gaëtan Vigé, Spaniard Alex Marin and Canadian Mark Wallace impressed early in the men’s event, only for Britain’s Danny Hart to get the crowd on its feet by producing one of his signature on-the-limit runs. Aaron Gwin, the winner of the previous DH round in Austria, had never won in Vallnord. The American’s streak continued as he ended the day in fifth overall. South African World Champion Greg Minnaar, the second-fastest rider in qualifying, melded his trademark smoothness with ruthless aggression to edge out Hart by just two-tenths of a second.
Nevertheless, Brosnan was not to be denied a victory. His early lead disappeared midway through the burly course before he kicked it into overdrive on the final stretch to win his second-ever UCI World Cup race, moving into third overall for the season behind Gwin in second and Minnaar in first.
“It’s amazing,” Brosnan said after the win. “Honestly feels as good as the first one. It was so tough up there when it started to rain. I have qualified first a few times now, so it’s about time I got it done. Awesome.”
Brosnan, who rides for Canyon Bicycles of Germany, was happy to propel his first-year sponsor into the limelight.
“Canyon is a new team,” Brosnan continued. “A lot of work goes in during the off-season to get us up to speed, so to come here and win — I am just over the moon.”
Despite ending on the podium, Minnaar was disappointed with his run in the tricky and variable conditions.
“I didn’t do the best I could right to the line,” Minnaar said. “I had a lapse of concentration and messed up on those last few turns to lose the race.”
Nicole for the women’s win
Before the women’s race kicked off, the attention was solidly centered on two British riders: Tahnée Seagrave, who had collected her maiden victory at the previous round in Leogang, Austria, and reigning UCI World Cup champion, Rachel Atherton, who was returning for her first race since suffering a shoulder injury on the first stop of the season at Fort William, Scotland.
Once racing got underway, Atherton looked to be taking it relatively easy on the horrifically steep and technical track, and yet she still claimed the lead after the first round.
Young rival Seagrave, though, had her sights set on beating her fellow Brit, but focus quickly shifted back up the track as Nicole turned the splits green. She eventually beat Seagrave’s time by nearly three seconds.
Montana native Tracey Hannah was the final woman left at the top, but a crash at the midway point spelled the end to her podium bid and left her in ninth overall. Nicole’s countrywoman, Marine Cabirou, landed her career-best result to date and ended in third, leaving Atherton off the podium in fourth at her post-injury debut.
“I still can’t believe it,” Nicole said after the race. “This is unreal. It wasn’t the perfect run. I feel a bit sad Tracey crashed, but she is not injured and that is the main point … (I’m) stoked to take the win here in Andorra with all my family and sponsors.”
Crash aside, Hannah still holds the overall women’s World Cup lead.
“I was feeling really good,” Hannah said of her final DNF run. “I think I lost my front wheel. I wasn’t really expecting it.”
The next stop for men and women’s UCI World Cup downhill is in Lenzerheide, Switzerland from July 8-9.
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