UCI Downhill World Cup in Les Gets: Fast Grass and Road Gaps [Photo Essay]

Les Gets bike park is a favorite for anyone who loves machine-built tracks with large berms and smooth jump lines. Here's what the action looked like at the 2019 UCI Downhill race at Les Gets, France.

Every one of the seventy-five racers who lined up to hurl themselves down the lightning-fast track in Les Gets, France this past weekend is a decidedly brave human. The old-school French slope traded a handful of the roots and rocks that typically carpet World Cup downhill courses for blistering off-camber drifts across cut grass, and a handful of step-downs that had some elite pilots considering the b-line.

The lengthy off-camber sections forced racers to use every inch of the wide track to maintain speed.

This particular step-down jump was a hot spot to scrub as much speed as possible, planting traction to set up for another hard, grassy left.

There were a few berms on track, situated in the brief wooded mid-section.

Gaetan Ruffin, of the Commencal Valnord Team, sprinting across the lone pedally section.

European DH champ, Baptiste Pierron, chose the rut through this corner, and it was a wicked fast one. Pierron finished up the day in 16th position.

Factory team mechanics do a thorough rebuild between practice and race day. Many privateers do the same work in their hotel rooms, making their results all the more impressive.

Mariana Salazar blasting her way to 3rd place in a tight women’s field.

With dry and dusty conditions, most riders were on clipless pedals for this round.

The wildflower bloom across the French Alps made for a lovely visual break between descenders.

Italian National Downhill Champion, Eleonora Ferina, attacked every last centimeter of the Les Gets hillside to earn 4th place on the day.

Drifty, dusty, loose, and generally sideways. One foot out was the fastest way to tear the grass turns.

Gee Atherton pushed his new bike to the limit, finishing in a respectable 25th place.

Step down number five, or was it six?

GT Factory Racing’s George Brannigan slotted in right ahead of Gee in 24th position.

Some of the better built berms allowed racers to carry frighteningly high speed.

US rider Nico Mulally had a few mishaps on the qualifying run and wasn’t able to enter the final event. He will have another chance at the following round in Val di Sole, Italy.

Current World Champ, Loic Bruni, setting up for the next turn long before he enters. Bruni finished 2nd behind fellow Frenchman, Amaury Pierron to the elation of their massive home crowd.

Scrub early, scrub often.

Nina Hoffmann earned 5th place to round out the champagne spray aboard her burly Juliana V10. Hoffman has had an impressive season thus far, and we expect to see her footprints climbing the podium again in the near future.

What do the soles of your shoes look like?

Greg Minnaar finished in seventh, less than a half-second behind fellow Santa Cruz Syndicate rider Loris Vergier who slid into the 5th slot.

Fortunately, the hill below matches that awkward angle.

Salazar straightening out the track with a sweet root launch.

Silas Grandy taking the direct line over this former tree.

Downhill bikes look tiny with the suspension fully squished.

Kiwi shredder, Kate Weatherly, had a nasty crash in practice and charged her way into 9th position, despite the pain.

Canadian DH Champ, Remi Gauvin, took a break from racing enduro to share the bottom of his feet with us and rode the longer-travel Rocky Mountain Maiden into 43rd position.

Looking forward, and a little down.

Troy Brosnan rips through the moto turns, crossing the finish in 4th place behind Laurie Greenland.

Is that a scrub, or just a more fun way to hang out in the air?

For reference, the road gap landing looks like this.

Downhill on an enduro bike? Why not?

Several racers were out to demonstrate the prowess of the newly released Scott Gambler Tuned.

Squash that jump!

All jumps in Les Gets are covered in metal fencing, and topped with rubber mats for max grip.

Several athletes were flying their national colors. The USA and French colorways seem to make the camera happy.

US National Champ Samantha Soriano fiercely throwing herself into the off-camber grass below.

The camera was hardly fast enough for Tracy Hannah’s race-winning pace. Hannah rode clean and smooth to finish with more than a half-second lead over Marine Cabirou.

Take a right after the big root in the woods…





Loic Bruni scrubbing those rainbow stripes clean.

Amaury Pierron on the rivet, with a roaring French crowd cheering him down the mountain.

Danny Hart had some issues on track and explained the rough run in an Instagram post. “Tough day at the office today, had a decent practice session this morning and was confident leading into finals. I knew I was going to have to really push to have a chance at that win. I’ve never had a run like today in my whole career, just tried way too hard from start to finish, I pretty much knew it was over after a big mistake off camera, but I still wanted to push and see how I could do in the splits, just mistake after mistake.”

Minnaar scrubbing brilliantly into 7th.

Be the jump?

One last peek over the edge before the road passes beneath.

Some folks were only focused on going fast, while others couldn’t resist the chance for a little party. Riders have just over two weeks to prepare for the coming round in Val di Sole, Italy. We wish them the best of luck!

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Les Gets bike park is a favorite for anyone who loves machine built tracks with large berms and smooth jump lines. The DH track sits on the other side of the valley, and its ephemeral nature only comes together for races like the one outlined above. If you ask nicely, you just might find a local to show you the way.


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