Val di Sole this past weekend marked the middle point of the UCI DH World Cup season and the return to one the more classic DH courses of the last decade. Val di Sole is not for the faint-hearted, massive roots, huge holes and its sheer steepness have always meant that the racing and results can be somewhat unpredictable.
Due to Connors hand injury, he missed last years final world cup round at Val di Sole where some major course changes were made. Arriving at the course for round four last weekend he had this to say. “The track looks good this year. Val di Sole is definitely the hardest track on the circuit. It’s just gnarly section after gnarly section the whole way down. I missed this race last year when they made lots of changes so about half the track is new to me. It looks like there’s some rain coming but the track dries up really quickly so I’d say it’s going to be dry come race day”
Connor was not wrong about race day being dry, however, the forecasted storms did arrive and timed training, practice and qualification bore the brunt of that. Rain on the track really shock up the qualifications with times posted before the downpour being considerably faster, a large number of riders from the back of the field made it to the main event while some heavy hitters, not able to cope with the changing conditions had to enjoy the non-quali-party. “The track is really hard to ride in the wet. There’s just roots and rocks the whole way down it’s hard to even steer straight” Connor, although protected and racing his qualification run in the wet, posted a solid 13th result, earning more points towards his overall standings.
Kona UK rider Josh Lowe took advantage of the somewhat drier qualification conditions earlier in the day and posted a 52nd, on race day he backed that up with a very respectible 49th!
“My qualification run was fine. Everyone knew it was going to be really hard to get down and the time gaps supported that. I had a steady run with no crashes and I’m super happy to get some points. Will be interesting if it’s wet like that for finals, but I think it will be dry!”
Connors positive predictions of a dry race day would come to fruition, if you hadn’t been there for the previous days you’d think it was a normal day in the Valley of the Sun. The only downside? No one had really had a chance to ride the track in the dry, and the Black Snake was for all intensive purposes a new course. A full days racing and practice in the dry had really shaken things up and when Connor crossed the line onboard his 29″ wheeled Operator on Saturday it would be for 19th place.
“I was pretty disappointed in how I rode for finals in Italy. The track was a lot different on race day because it had fully dried out and was much faster. We didn’t have much practice to get up to speed on essentially a new track. I just missed the speed a bit and didn’t send it hard enough. I still keep my 11th overall plate which is good. It has me fired up for Andorra where I know I can do well this weekend”
We think a top 20 in Val di Sole is pretty damn good!