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    News — racing

    661 | COMMENCAL MUC OFF MSA FINALS

    661 | COMMENCAL MUC OFF MSA FINALS

    WIN SOME & LOSE SOMEMONT SAINTE ANNE, CANADA - UCI WORLD CUP #7

    Sometimes it feels like you put everything in and get nothing out, and round seven of the DH World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne certainly had a few of those moments for us. However, although all roads lead to race runs, the journeys are so full of experiences and memories that on reflection you never see a race result as purely a number. 9, 13, 15, 26. There are some big stories behind these big numbers.

    First of all, there are only four numbers. We went a man down on Practice day when Tristan crashed, dislocating his wrist and breaking his scaphoid. Our hearts sank. It was a dream come true for Tristan to be riding a home World Cup, the Quebecois living only four hours away and having visited this famous venue as a young boy. He was absolutely loving the first few runs, and after a fifth place in Vallnord was feeling back towards his best after a tough start to the season. After surgery on Saturday morning, Tristan returned to Mont Sainte Anne to cheer his teammates and soak up the vibe before heading home to heal up. 

    The best number of race day went to Thibaut with ninth place. As he summarised, it was “nothing crazy”. Not crazy bad, not crazy fast, just solid. Sometimes executing a smooth and safe race is enough to be satisfied, and sometimes “solid” is not really enough. Thibaut felt somewhere in the middle. A well-managed week of process and progress on a notoriously tough track, no crashes or mechanical issues, and another top ten for a 21-year-old are all really positive outcomes. However, the podium is where Thibaut wants to be and where his abilities certainly allow him to be, so falling short can sting. Motivation and morale are still high, and we’re sure the final piece of the jigsaw will slot into place soon.

    It was an unlucky thirteen for Myriam in Mont Sainte Anne. After a crash in Quali, Myriam had picked herself up and found her mojo again on race day morning. Her final practice runs were good and she dropped in feeling fast and confident. The skill, the speed, and the mindset were there, but luck was not. A punctured tyre and then a tyre-less rim quickly derailed any chance of a good result, and the opportunity to take the overall lead also slipped away. It was another cruel blow in a season of setbacks, but Pompon proved once again that she is stronger than the misfortune with high-fives for the crowd and a smile at the finish line. “C’est la vie!”, she said. 

    The number fifteen belonged to Hugo. It doesn’t seem anything particularly special at first, but it comes with some real positives. After crashes and mechanicals all year, Hugo was frustrated and disheartened. He is such a talented young rider and he had not been able to show this in his results. For Mont Sainte Anne, he really worked on his approach to Quali and Finals, learning from past mistakes and realigning his mindset. Laying down a clean race run was the big goal, and he achieved it. Mental strength is such a key tool in this game, and we are really proud that Hugo delivered what he set out to do. 

    The final result was the highest number and perhaps the lowest moment of the day. Amaury had the chance to tie up the overall World Cup title with one round to go, such was his phenomenal season so far. He was third in Quali and feeling good on track, he just needed to finish in twenty-fourth place or better and the title was his. A safe ride would secure it. But Amaury is not a “safe rider”. He races to win, with his heart on his sleeve and a fire in his belly. This is why he is so loved. . And then He felt he had a chance to win, and he went for it. And then he went down. A few centimetres offline and suddenly he was on the ground. He bounced up and rode like fury to the finish line, but it was not quite enough to clinch the overall. He ended up twenty-sixth. It would be so easy to be full of regret, anger, and disappointment, but on reflection, he is stoked to have been riding so well and to have been true to his racing spirit. 

    The final round of the World Cup in Val di Sole is set to be a thriller. Amaury leads the overall by 249 points, and Myriam is still in with a chance to take the title as well. 

    Every race, when learned from, is another weapon in the arsenal. We’re full of ammunition and ready to fire for the World Championships and the final World Cup of the season!The final word from this race should go to an incredible day for Canadian DH, with Finn Iles continuing Stevie Smith’s legacy in superb style. What a sport!

    Photos Credits - ©Kéno Derleyn

    661 | COMMENCAL MUC OFF SNOWSHOE FINALS

    661 | COMMENCAL MUC OFF SNOWSHOE FINALS

    THE AMERICAN DREAM! SNOWSHOE, USA - UCI WORLD CUP #6

    Amaury takes his tenth World Cup Win - the fourth this season - with an incredible fight.

    We arrived in Snowshoe to rain, fog, and some pretty bitter memories of last year’s race. On top of that, Amaury was physically suffering and mentally struggling after his big hit in Vallnord; Myriam was still recovering from her illness and the frustration of dropping points in the overall; Thibaut was searching for that fast feeling once again.

    The comedown, the reset, and the build-up between races can be really tough. But those moments of doubt, the pain, and the stress make the moments of victory all the more euphoric

    From the misty mornings, driving rain, and muddy mayhem on track during the week came to a Finals steeped in sunshine. It didn’t all go our way, but Amaury’s win certainly lifted us all. 

    Amaury’s World Cup week started with an uncertainty he would ride. Once wheels were rolling, it developed into a quest to find confidence where little was presenting itself. Run after run he battled a battered body, crazy conditions, and the frustration of feeling slow. Qualification came and he still didn’t feel fast, but the clock told us otherwise: fastest man down the hill. He looked as confused as he did stoked! 

    Whatever magic Momo had conjured up, Thibaut had cast the same spell - he rode into second place with the blistering pace he knows he has but had struggled to unlock. Myriam also posted the second fastest time despite having a crash. Confidence was on the up and race day was round the corner.

    Saturday started with brighter skies and higher hopes, but those first couples of practice runs were once again a minefield. Tristan came off worst with a big crash that saw him sit out Finals, whilst Amaury was still scratching his head and desperately trying to find his rhythm. With a race run crash for Hugo dropping him out of contention for a solid result, the day needed a strong reset

    This is when some of the most impressive elements of race day happen: the ability the riders have to work themselves into a headspace that allows them to be the best in the World. 

    Analyse, fuel, rest, focus, warm-up, go. The pre-race routine is a well-dialed drill. Everyone’s is slightly different, with quirks and nuances, but the endpoint is the same: the start gate, the beeps, and then the moment of quiet before launching into the run.

    It was clear to see the pace of Myriam and Thibaut on track. They were both penultimate riders to race and were setting splits green. 

    Myriam is a queen of building speed and confidence throughout a race week and it was clear to see that she had done this again in Snowshoe. The speed was there and she looked strong on the bike, but an innocuous-looking section caught her out once again. Amazingly, Pompon still crossed the line to go fastest, but it was not enough to hold off the charge of Camille Balanche. A strong but frustrating second place

    Thibaut’s crash pushed him down to eighteenth, but beyond his initial disappointment came a growing sense of satisfaction and a little relief that he had found his flow again.

    With Thibaut’s run finished, it was all eyes on the big screen as we watched Amaury drop in.

    The sun was strong, the atmosphere was electric and the tension was mounting to that love/hate level that we live for. The first split was good, it was game on. But then came a huge near-crash moment that had our hands on our heads, mouths agape, and heart rates through the roof. How could he pull back over 1.8 seconds? The answer: because he’s Amaury Pierron. Momo was on a mission. With unbelievable talent and a shed-load of determination, he was fastest through split three and came charging towards the finish with the noise following down the hill and then erupting in the finish bowl as he sprinted to the line. 

    World Cup win number four this season, and number ten in his career! One of the most astonishing turn-arounds we have ever witnessed, and we’ve seen a few! 

    It’s hard to give true justice to the incredible spirit of this team; quite how much everyone invests, and thus quite how much it all means when we come out on top. It’s probably safe to say that Champagne mixed with a few tears behind those sunglasses

    We had the journey up from West Virginia to Quebec to try and digest all that round six served up. Now it’s time to wipe the slate and start again for round seven in Mont Sainte Anne. Bring on another wild ride! 

    Photos Credits - ©Sven Martin - ©Kéno Derleyn

    661 | COMMENCAL MUC OFF VALLNORD FINALS

    661 | COMMENCAL MUC OFF VALLNORD FINALS

    BITING THE DUSTVALLNORD, ANDORRA - UCI WORLD CUP #5

    COMMENCAL’s home World Cup would have been the perfect stage on which to perform something special. We had the bike, we had the riders and we had the momentum. Unfortunately, we didn’t have good fortune this time around, and we left Andorra feeling a little dejected.

    However, there were, as always, plenty of positives to take, including the brand new World Cup track. At over 2300m altitude, looking out over bluebird skies across the high Pyrenees, the start was something special. High altitude, high speed, and bone-dry conditions gave us thin air thick with dust. Big berms brought big grins; loose dirt delivered wild style. Practice day was sick! 

    So too was Myriam, although in altogether less positive terms. After being horribly ill through Tuesday night, she missed Track Walk on Wednesday and instead visited the hospital. By Thursday she was well enough to do some runs, but energy levels were very low. It was to be a huge challenge to face race day with the strength to perform

    As the track got blown out in some sections and established ruts in others, it was time to face the clock. Myriam did remarkably to post the third best time; Amaury gave a taste of his speed with second place despite a couple of big moments and subsequent slowdowns; Thibaut punctured and Tristan and Hugo were solid but not spectacular. We had some work to do…

    Race day dawned with splendid sunshine and high hopes of success. Those hopes took a hit when Hugo drifted too far left off the finish line jump and crashed onto the landing. It was one of those crashes that makes you feel lucky it wasn’t worse, rather than unlucky that it happened. We took a deep breath and waited for Tristan’s run. After struggling to find the right mindset for Quali, Tristan dialed in the focus and put together a great run to take fifth place, a time that would have put him an impressive 18th in the Elite ranks. 

    Back at the top, Myriam was trying to muster all the energy she could find. The fatigue was weighing heavy but Pompon was displaying two of the major reasons why she wears those rainbow bands: supreme skill and incredible determination. She was green through splits two and three, but then she could hold on no more. Exhaustion, mistake, crash. Seventh place at the end of the day was a bitter pill to swallow with overall World Cup points slipping by, but what a courageous effort all week long.

    With the sun blazing down and the tension going up, Thibaut was motivated to set aside his frustrating Quali run and crank up the heat on a track that he’d been loving all week. As he explained afterward, the conditions and the support were great, the bike was perfect but he couldn’t bring it all together for a fast race run. Sometimes things just don’t quite click. Fifteenth place is a lot less than he hoped for, but we all know days like this are part of the game. 

    Amaury was the penultimate man to start, and he had some serious speed on track in Vallnord. The problem with speed is when it is abruptly stopped by a tree… Amaury took a huge slam in his first practice run of race day and we were once again thanking Lady Luck for sparing us broken bones. It was an amazing team effort to get man and machine up and riding again in time for a second practice run and then the all-important race run. Bike parts were shuttled back and forth, settings were recalibrated, physio was administered, space and time were given where needed, pep talks were given when required. It was a huge ask for Amaury to perform, but he stepped up like a champion. Physically and emotionally, that race hurt, but thirteenth on the day was enough to keep him in the overall leader’s jersey. We made the best of a bad situation.

    Indeed, that’s perhaps what we can take away from Vallnord. We had sickness, crashes, and missing parts of the puzzle, but in the end, we held onto the yellow plates as team leaders, Amaury retained his overall lead, and no-one walked away seriously wounded. They say championships are won on your worst days. Let’s hope that the misfortunate has passed and more celebrations are ahead

    Now that the dust has settled, we are really proud of our efforts in Andorra. And we still love this game! Bring on North America!

    Photos Credits - ©Sven Martin & ©Kéno Derleyn

    661 | AMAURY WINNING RUN FORT WILLIAM

    661 |  AMAURY WINNING RUN FORT WILLIAM
    It was another fearless Amaury Pierron performance in the men's race as the Frenchman took his third consecutive win on the Fort William track following his victories in 2018 and 2019 in Scotland. Pierron again showed his knack of being a race-day-player with a pin-point accurate run that saw him make a mockery of deteriorating course conditions for the last ten riders down the hill.

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