The XCO ( Cross Country Olympic ) would be the 4th event of the series and the DH ( Down Hill ) the 5th. The next stop wouldn’t be until nearly a month later, ( 5th / 6th August) allowing riders and crews to give it full gas before a taking a time out and heading to Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada n August.
In the women’s downhill GB’s Rachel Atherton was back racing after a dislocating her shoulder at Fort William WC meanwhile in the mens XCO French superstar Julian Absalon was going to miss a duel with World and Olympic Champion Nino Schurter having broken his collarbone in a training accident.
Rachel Atherton, GBR, Trek Factory Racing DH, on her way to 2nd place in Lenzerheide Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
Downhill practice had been on a very dry dust with little traction but some overnight rain had added some moisture and much needed grip to the dirt.
First off were the women, Myriam Nicole taking the win for France and a delighted Rachel Atherton getting on the second step of the podium, although the biggest cheer was for Swiss favourite Emilie Siegenthaler. Tahnee Seagrave and Manon Carpenter made it three riders in the top ten for GB.
Young fan cheering riders at Lenzerheide Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
In the mens' race Brit Phil Atwill was the first to post a quick time from a start number of 65/82 but that was eclipsed immediately by compatriot Laurie Greenland who followed him out of the hut. It wasn’t until Great Britain’s World Champion Danny Hart crossed the line with only five others to go that fellow Mondrake rider Greenland’s time was beaten.
Neither Loris Vergier or Loic Bruni were flowing so it was down to Greg Minnaar to lay it down and nail his 75th career podium by 2 seconds. Troy Brosnan pushed hard but couldn’t knock Minnaar off top spot, so it was down to the stars and stripes of Aaron Gwin who was flying down the course and was up by a second at the first split before - phhhh - a puncture. Gutted, the four time overall World Cup Champion trailed in 51st. The win was Minnaar’s, his 21st career WC win and second of the season.
Greg Minnaar, RSA, Santa Cruz Syndicate, on his way to yet another World Cup at Lenzerheide Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
Sunday dawned overcast with rain forecast, and so it turned out with the UCI dropping a lap from both men’s and women’s races which took place on a 4.2km circuit at 1500m above sea level, with along opening climb followed by a series of short lung busters and rooty loamy forest sections.
Start of Mens XCO World Cup Lenzerheide Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
Maybe it was the typically British weather that allowed Britain’s Annie Last to feel at home and catch Norwegian legend Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja with two laps to go and take GB’s first Women’s WC XCO win for 20 years. Caroline Alexander being the last to take the top step in St Wendel Germany in 1997.
In the men’s race the absence of Julien Absalon in theory opened the race up, but Schurter yet again proved untouchable with 2012 Olympic Champion, Czech, Jaroslav Kulhavy coming back from illness and injury to take 2nd and Russian Anton Sintsov 3rd.
Swiss superstar and World / Olympic Champion Nino Schurter, SUI, Scott SRAM MTB Racing Team, on his way to winning Mens XCO World Cup, Lenzerheide
Myriam Nicole FRA 3.26.890
Rachel Atherton GBR 3.27.402
Emilie Siegenthaler SUI 3.29.277
Tracey Hannah AUS 3.31.429
Tahnee Seagrave GBR 3.32.623
Start hut - Lenzerheide Mountain Bike Downhil World Cup, Saturday 8th July 2017
Greg Minnaar RSA 2.57.042
Troy Brosnan AUS 2.57.042
Danny Hart GBR 2.58.868
Laurie Greenland GBR 2.59.965
Phil Atwill GBR 3.00.830
Taylor Vernon, GBR, Union Tools Team, Lenzerheide Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup, Saturday 8th July 2017
Annie Last GBR 1.29.10
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja 1.29.23
Yana Belomoina UKR 1.29.37
Crowd at the podium, XCO World Cup, Lenzerheide
Nino Schurter SUI 1.29.48
Jaroslav Kulhavy CZE 1.29.51
Anton Sintsov RUS 1.30.03
Nino Schurter spraying the champagne having won Mens XCO World Cup, Lenzerheide, Sunday 9th July 2017
All Images © Henry Iddon