World Cup wrap up: Loudenvielle Peyragudes

Bruni and Höll win as downhill and enduro mountain biking headed to the Pyrenees

Clock10:14, Monday 4th September 2023
Loïc Bruni took his first win of the season in Loudenvielle

© UCI Mountain Bike World Series

Loïc Bruni took his first win of the season in Loudenvielle

A busy block of World Cup mountain bike racing continued in Loudenvielle, France this weekend with the second instalment of a triple header of downhill race weekends, plus the return of enduro racing. Coming just a week after Pal Arinsal, Andorra, the Mountain Bike World Series stayed in the Pyrenees for a round in Loudenvielle, a new stop for the downhill riders.

Like Andorra, the unpredictable weather played a part in the racing, with rain cancelling the juniors’ downhill races on Saturday. The elites were able to race, though, and the tricky courses produced some exciting racing. Missed any of the action? Here’s what happened down in France.

Loïc Bruni back to winning ways as Vali Höll dominates

In the downhill, it was a new challenge for the racers as the World Cup headed to a new course for the latest round of the 2023 series. Set in the heart of the Pyrenees, Loudenvielle offered a steep and fast course, with lots of open sections where line choice and speed were key.

In the women’s race, there were some big time gaps as the ten finalists took on the tricky course. All eyes were on world champion Vali Höll (Rockshox Trek) and Pal Arinsal winner Nina Hoffmann (Santa Cruz Syndicate), the two riders who have looked the strongest on the World Cup circuit so far this year. Hoffmann set an impressive time to go into the lead ahead of the rest of the field, but when Höll hit the track it was a fast and faultless run from the world champion, delivering her to yet another victory and returning to the top step of the World Cup podium.

When the men got on track, the course was beginning to deteriorate, and this resulted in some unpredictable, super tight racing. Dakotah Norton (Intense Factory Racing) set the early fastest time, which proved untouchable for much of the day as riders had mistake-free runs but just couldn’t match the American’s time. That was until the final five riders went down the ramp, and Loïc Bruni (Specialized Gravity) pulled out the run of his year to just edge Norton’s time. None of the last riders could match Bruni’s time, with Pal Arinsal winner Thibaut Daprela (Commencal Muc-Off) and fastest qualifier Benoit Coulanges (Dorval AM Commencal) both crashing. Bruni’s win was confirmed, ending a winless streak for the five-time world champion, with Norton taking second and Laurie Greenland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) finishing third.

The junior finals on Saturday were cancelled, with the organisers deeming the course unsafe after rainfall on Friday night and marking the first ever time a World Cup final has been fully cancelled. Many riders voiced their desire to race, but videos that emerged from practice showed parts of the course largely impassable, with riders slipping through mud. The results were instead awarded from the qualifying round, with Ryan Pinkerton (GT Factory Racing) taking the men’s victory whilst Sacha Earnest (Kiwi DH) topped the women’s standings.

French riders take control in enduro races

As well as Bruni winning the men’s downhill, it was a weekend to celebrate for the French riders with the home nation taking three out of four races on the enduro programme. In the women’s enduro, series leader Isabeau Cordurier (Lapierre Zipp Collective) took another convincing win, completing the tricky Pyrenean course 23 seconds faster than Morgane Charre (Pivot Factory Racing).

The men’s race was a more surprising result, with Youn Deniaud (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) surprising all the favourites to take his first enduro win, just edging Alex Rudeau (Commencal Enduro Project) to the victory. It was an all-French podium, with Rudeau’s teammate Louis Jeandel taking a career-best result in third.

The return of the e-enduro World Cup was also a return to the norm, with Fabien Barel and Florencia Herreros Espiñeira adding to their win tallies - Barel after a hard-fought battle with Alex Marin (Gasgas SRAM), and Espiñeira by a bigger margin as she looks to win the overall for a second year running.

Next up

The Mountain Bike World Series returns this weekend for a 10-day mountain bike festival in Haute-Savoie, France, where all the different disciplines will come together in one place for the first time ever between September 7 and 10. Downhill and cross-country will take place on the first weekend, before enduro and marathon take the spotlight later on.

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