Watch the Vallnord DH World Cup 2018 highlights
Vallnord and its vertical course tested the nerve of the world's elite this weekend. The steepest track of the year had already claimed a number of big names by the time finals came around.
Watch the best action highlights from Vallnord in the video above.
Find out who was able to tame the Andorran beast and scroll down for winning runs and replays from the men's and women's race:
Women's DH Finals
Women's Vallnord DH finals
The steepest track of the season was creating huge gaps in the Elite Women's field, with a number falling victim to its unruly terrain. Italy's Eleonora Farina managed a long stint in the hotseat, pulling together a strong run that saw off competition from most of the top 10.
Commencal's Cécile Ravanel, riding in her team's home town, was unable to bump Farina from the hotseat. Despite getting green splits up top, the enduro star was a fraction too slow towards the bottom of the track. However, her overall time would be strong enough to secure the fifth and final podium position of the day.
It was the top of the track proving to be most hazardous, with a three riders in a row all coming to fault in the flat-out open sections. Veronika Widmann, Monika Hrastnik and Emilie Siegenthaler had their race runs hampered by spills before the second split, and, despite the long steep section of the track still to come, were unable to make up enough time to threaten Farina.
Taking bold line choices and dancing over the rough track, Seagrave was lighting up the split times green.
Crossing the line with a time of 4m 49.84s, Seagrave knocked Farina off her long-held hot seat, and also put pressure on Atherton by surpassing the time she set in qualifying.
Watch Tahnée Seagrave's race run below:
UCI DH World Cup Rd5 Vallnord: Tahnée Seagrave race run
A big fan of the Andorran track, Tracey Hannah held a good line across the off-camber rocky section, but wasn't able to open it up enough in the steep sections to challenge Seagrave's scorching run.
Rachel Atherton had her eyes on the prize as she stormed out the start hut. Knowing that she'd have to go full speed to challenge the time set by Seagrave, Atherton lit up the top sections of the track with an impressive 3.9 second advantage at Split 2.
Just as it looked like it was all in Atherton's favour, though, her bike bucked on a rut and sent her off course. Pushing back onto the track, Atherton continued her run, but with less vigour – probably under the impression that she'd no longer be able to contend for the win.
She finished in second place, 4.8s back from Seagrave. After the race, she noted that she had "no idea what happened really... such a blur, I just blew off track… you panic then and ride real stiff."
Watch Rachel Atherton's race run below:
UCI DH World Cup Rd5 Vallnord: Rachel Atherton race run
I’ve never done well in Andorra… I’m just over the moon.
Holding back-to-back World Cup wins, Seagrave is quickly closing the overall standings between Atherton and herself, as just 80 points separate the two riders as we approach the final two World Cups of the season.
"My run wasn't great, but it was still pretty solid," said Seagrave. "I knew I had to be smart and not push too hard. I've never done well in Andorra… I’m just over the moon."
UCI DH World Cup Vallnord Women's results
|1.||Tahnée Seagrave||4m 49.840s|
|2.||Rachel Atherton||4m 54.669s|
|3.||Tracey Hannah||4m 58.532s|
|4.||Eleonora Farina||5m 04.057s|
|5.||Cécile Ravanel||5m 04.202s|
Men's DH Finals
Men's DH Finals (EN) – Vallnord
Starting outside the top 25 riders seemed to have a beneficial effect for Finn Iles in Vallnord. The Canadian hadn't yet put in a final run that matched his qualifying performances, but here the youngster took the bull by the horns to sit in the hotseat, with a scorching time that was faster than that of Luca Shaw’s winning qualifying time the day before.
Eddie Masters and Thomas Estaque subsequently came close to putting a dent into Iles's time, but both made mistakes at crucial times.
Estaque in particular rode on the edge, at one point landing his bike on its nose after a bridge jump, but managing to stay upright somehow. That risk versus reward approach came back to haunt him, as he crashed just as he was making inroads into Iles's split times.
Loïc Bruni was the next rider to challenge Iles. Being team-mates, the two shared similar lines, and the Frenchman was so fast that he nearly rode off the track at one point. Further mistakes crept into his run, and in the end he slotted into second behind his young friend. It wasn't a bad effort from Bruni, given he had to have 16 stitches to close a wound on his bottom following a crash in qualifying and was understandably sore.
Iles's time was only bettered when Loris Vergier took to the track. Starting eighth-from-last, Vergier took some creative lines down the course compared to what'd previously been seen, remaining smooth throughout.
At each split he was making second upon second on Iles, and he came in at the finish a big 4.5 seconds faster than the Canadian. Like Bruni, Vergier was riding with a hand injury that he sustained in qualifying.
Watch Loris Vergier's race run below:
UCI DH World Cup Rd5 Vallnord: Loris Vergier race run
Amaury Pierron was looking to take four World Cup wins in a row in Vallnord, but despite a fast bottom sector, he couldn't overhaul Vergier's time and slotted into second behind him.
Brook Macdonald, Laurie Greenland and Danny Hart followed down, but weren't able to make any impression on Vergier's time, though Macdonald came close to nipping past Pierron. The New Zealander would have to be happy with third.
Watch Brook Macdonald's race run below:
UCI DH World Cup Rd5 Vallnord: Brook Macdonald race run
Last man down the hill, Luca Shaw crashed out on the circuit to hand Loris Vergier his team-mate his first World Cup win. Greenland took fourth, while Iles was rewarded for his earlier run with fifth place.
It's just like all your life you chase something and then the hard work pays off
Pierron still has a healthy lead in the overall World Cup standings with just two races to go, but Vergier's win vaults the Frenchman into second place with Greenland now in third.
"I just want to cry for 10 years now," Vergier said. "It's just like all your life you chase something and then the hard work pays off… I’m stoked."
UCI DH World Cup Vallnord Men's results
|1.||Loris Vergier||4m 04.055s|
|2.||Amaury Pierron||4m 05.388s|
|3.||Brook Macdonald||4m 05.659s|
|4.||Laurie Greenland||4m 07.762s|
|5.||Finn Iles||4m 08.634s|