Les Gets, France, served up another memorable World Cup over the weekend, as downhill and cross-country racers battled through wet weather and increasingly treacherous tracks to get to the finish line. With spectators allowed back on course for the first time since the pandemic, Les Gets felt like a real World Cup again, as fans’ raucous cheering and relentless cowbell ringing injected a welcome energy into the weekend.
As rain persisted in the mountains of southeast France, course conditions at the iconic bike park grew muddier and slicker as the wet weekend wore on. By the time the top DH men’s qualifiers were taking their final runs on Saturday afternoon, the track was so mucky that the fastest racers were ending their runs more than 10 seconds back from the leader. Thibaut Daprela prevailed in that race with his exceptionally smooth and fast run down the all-natural track, which was brand-new for this race, and featured steeps, ruts, roots, off-camber turns, jumps and road gaps, minimal pedaling and a feast of line options, all to riders’ delight. The Les Gets course has traditionally been known to be fast, but not technical, and the new course added a difficulty level that quickly had racers dubbing it among the best on the circuit. Daprela’s win marked his first as an elite, and was made even more significant by the fact that he had a huge crash earlier in the week and questioned even starting.
In women’s DH, Tahnée Seagrave took the win with her flawless run, turning around a seventh-place in qualifying the day before, and landing atop the World Cup podium for the first time in more than two years.
The cross-country race didn’t fare much better. The Short Track race on Friday took place before conditions got really deteriorated but by the time the main race rolled around the next day, rain was falling, mud was flying and the slippery course claimed many victims. Superstar Mathias Flückinger continued his tear through the World Cup circuit, taking his fourth win in a row by emerging on top in both Short Track and the XC race, and overtaking Nino Schurter in the overall XC rankings.
In the women’s race, Loana Lecomte won on home soil, fending off a chasing pack of Jenny Rissveds, Pauline Ferrand-Prevót and Rebecca McConnell, somehow staying uprights in the mud, unlike many others. Lecomte’s win marks her fourth World Cup podium in a row.
Photos: Michal Cerveny.