With temperatures soaring into the 80s during the Val di Sole practice sessions, the world's best downhill riders had plenty to contend with as they took on one of the sport's most notoriously demanding courses. The mountainous Italian landscape holds so many surprises that this stop is more about survival than anything else.
Gee and Rachel Atherton, fresh of dual wins at the season opener in Fort William, both had success on this course in 2008 to take double World Championship titles, so all eyes were upon them here in 2013. With dual wins again in qualifying, they definitely set the tone for the day -- Rachel especially so, exhibiting a clear advantage over the field.
In the final, she was five seconds ahead of Emmeline Ragot at the finish. The attention then turned to Gee, to see if he could follow up with his own victory.
Greg Minaar, after a disappointing start at Fort William, appearing back in form at Val di Sole, visibly pushing hard. Hart, Hill and MacDonald looked good in qualifying but all got bitten at one point by the unpredictable course. Stevie Smith blazed down the hill to ultimately land in second.
Last year’s front runner and series champion, Aaron Gwin, had some work to do after a shaky season opener. Things looked back on track with his second place qualification but he wasn’t able to replicate that come his finals run, eventually finishing outside the top five.
Gee was the last rider on the hill, but since he seems to thrive in pressure situations, it's not entirely a surprise that he came through with a blistering run. Crossing the line with a second of cushion over Stevie, Gee locked up the top of the podium once again for the Atherton family.
1. Gee Atherton (GT Factory Racing) 3:12.185
2. Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) +1.001
3. Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) +1.250
4. Loic Bruni (Lapierre Gravity Republic) +2.471
5. Troy Brosnan (Specialized Racing DH) +4.121
6. Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing DH) +4.123
7. Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) +5.280
8. Florent Payet (Evil CK Racing Evian) +6.341
9. Michael Hannah (Hutchinson UR) +6.442
10. Markus Pekoll MS Mondraker Team +6.501
1. Rachel Atherton (GT Factory Racing) 3:43.810
2. Emmeline Ragot (Lapierre Gravity Republic) +5.235
3. Floriane Pugin (Gstaad-Scott) +12.053
4. Morgane Charre (MS Mondraker Team) +14.233
5. Myriam Nicole (Commencal / Riding Addiction) +15.495
6. Casey Brown (Dirt Norco Race Team) +16.060
7. Manon Carpenter (Madison Saracen Downhill Team) +18.355
8. Emilie Siegenthaler (Gstaad-Scott) +20.180
9. Zarja Cernilogar (Blackthorn GT ) +21.090
10. Micayla Gatto +24.639
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