Cycling enthusiasts, disappointed by the cross-country performance of the French mountain bikers at the Olympic Games, may be able to console themselves with the Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup. After the stages of Leogang (Austria), on June 12, Les Gets, on July 3, Maribor (Slovenia), on August 15, Lenzerheide (Switzerland), on September 4, and a descent on the Snowshoe circuit on September 15 in United States, the final of the competition will be held on Saturday, September 18, at Snowshoe (7:45 p.m.), once again.
Despite the absence of 2018 World Cup winner Amaury Pierron, the French dominate the overall standings. Thibaut Daprela (1er), Loris Vergier (2e) and Loïc Bruni (3e) will compete for the title in the men’s category. Among the women, Myriam Nicole is leading the race, while Marine Cabirou hopes to move up the rankings after the competition, failing to be able to obtain gold.
Daprela in front, Vergier and Bruni in ambush
Junior world champion in 2018 and 2019, Thibaut Daprela already seems to have taken the pedal to the adults. After a 5e up to the 2020 World Cup and failed world championships this year in Val di Sole (Italy), the 20-year-old mountain biker prances at the top of the World Cup standings.
He won the second downhill of the competition in Les Gets after returning from an injury during the French championships (broken nose and split tongue). Second time in Leogang, 3e in Maribor then in Lenzerheide, he occupied the first place before a fall during the last stage in date, in Snowshoe. However, he retained the leader’s jersey, but was only ahead of his compatriot Loris Vergier by 46 points.
The latter, if he is older than Thibaut Daprela (he is 25 years old), has also never won an elite world title. Always placed, never winning, the native of Cagnes-sur-Mer has however just won the European Championship in Maribor, on August 9, and has recovered well after two failed first rounds of the World Cup (flat tire in Leogang , 25e aux Gets) by winning at Maribor and Lenzerheide, before taking the 3e up to Snowshoe.
Everything is also possible for Loïc Bruni who is only 126 points behind Thibaut Daprela in the general classification and occupies 3rd place. The Niçois has already won four Worlds (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019) and a World Cup two years ago. After two disappointing first rounds (10e in Leogang, 25e in Les Gets), he got back in position – in Maribor, then during the last two stages – to go for his second World Cup.
The French mountain bikers, if they seem the closest to the world title, will have to beware of Briton Reece Wilson, 4e in the standings, which can still win.
Nicole meets expectations, Cabirou struggles
Among women, Myriam Nicole, double world champion (in 2019 then this year in Val di Sole), and winner of the 2017 World Cup, was part of the hopes of French victory at the start of the season. She does not disappoint: 8e only during the first stage in June (the fault of two falls), the Frenchwoman then achieved the second time in Les Gets before going to seek the first places on the tracks of Maribor and Lenzerheide.
On a cloudy basis, she had attacked the last round to date at Snowshoe when a technical problem forced her to stop for a few seconds. By obtaining in spite of everything the 4e During this stage, she was able to keep her place as leader, but only kept 90 points ahead of her runner-up in the standings, Camille Balanche.
The Swiss also had a great competition, notably having won the first stage in Leogang. Behind, the Austrian Valentina Höll (best time at the last stage of Snowshoe) and the British Tahnee Seagrave (best time in Les Gets), respectively 3e and 4e, have enough points to worry Myriam Nicole.
Further, in 7e position, the young Frenchwoman Marine Cabirou (23) will not be able to aim for gold but hopes to climb in the general classification during the final stage. While she had won the Cup in 2020 and has just obtained the silver at the Worlds, the Millavoise saw her state of form (bruises) deprive her of the second stage in Les Gets in July, after a 4e weather in Leogang in June. Barely returned from injury on the Maribor track, she had only obtained the 10e time before places of 6e then 3e during the last two stages.