Amidst a massive chaotic French crowd, local heroes Amaury Pierron and Loris Vergier took home the silver and bronze medals respectively at the 2022 Mountain Bike Downhill World Championships in Les Gets, France in a historic French sweep of the podium. Pierron came in as the standout Frenchman given his domination of the 2022 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and fact that he won in Les Gets in 2019, but he would have to settle for silver losing to now five-time World Champion Loïc Bruni. Teammate Troy Brosnan missed the podium, taking fourth place.
As the second time Les Gets hosted the World Championships with the first being in 2004 and playing host to the World Cup in 2019 and 2021, French fans were rabid for podiums and their French squad countrymen did not disappoint. On what is widely regarded as a racer favorite, this year's version of the racetrack nestled on the historic Mont Chery side made a celebratory return to the valley of Les Gets, France. Dropping 571 meters, the racecourse in France is Tout de Force in trail building. Featuring the perfect mixture of high-speed grass and wild French woods, Les Gets features a bit of everything; but it does it in a hurry. With speeds in excess of 55 km/h, keeping your bars between the tape becomes a challenge as riders transfer from sketchy roots to deep moon dust. They navigate the 2.4 km from the top down to the MTB historical village at the bottom of the valley. While weather was a worry for race day, Mother Nature gave everyone a break, and decided to let the sun beam through, and the dust fly as the Mountain Bike world crowned their yearly heroes.
Pierron was disappointed with the day, but looked to the future, which can come as early as next week, with a potential World Cup overall win on the horizon in Italy next weekend.
“It was so sick to ride in front of the French crowd,” said Pierron. “Today’s run wasn’t a winning one. I didn’t take any risks and stayed in my lines; it was too easy. I don’t know why I wasn’t able to push more. Maybe in the back of my mind I still have the [World Cup] overall to play, so maybe that was it. For Sure Bruni was on it and had nothing to lose, so he came for it and won that game. I’ll be chasing this dream for another year, but I’ll never quit before I get these rainbows.”
Close behind the World Cup leader was friend and close competitor Vergier in third place. “Third isn’t what I wanted this week, but I’m happy to take home a podium at World Championships at home in France,” said Vergier. “After injuring my shoulder in Canada earlier this season, it’s better than I expected. I’m super happy to see Loci take home his 5th title!”
It was an historic day for downhill racing in Les Gets with over 150,000 spectators and next level riding. Just off the podium, was two-time World Junior Champion Troy Brosnan (AUS). Also recovering from a devastating leg injury earlier this season, Brosnan was happy to see himself back to form with one race to go this season.
“Since I hurt my leg earlier this season, I’ve only been focusing on this race. The buildup coming here was stressful, but everything came together, and today I put the best run I could down, and 4th is all that I could get. I’m happy with the run I put together here today, it just wasn’t enough to end up on the podium and pick up a medal. I couldn’t have done anymore, and I’m just happy to be at the pointy end and be doing well.” On racing in France, Brosnan (and everyone else) had nothing but good words to say about the massive crowds on the day. “I’ve never seen crowds like this,” Brosnan continued. “There was noise and flares going off. Les Gets might potentially burn down tonight!”
Camille Balanche also came within one second of a podium finish, just three weeks after breaking her collarbone at the last World Cup round. Albeit, still not riding at 100% strength, Balanche is excited that she will have an opportunity to grab the World Cup overall next week in Italy.
The mountain bike downhill season winds down with one last race in Val Di Sole, Italy this coming weekend on what is regarded as one of the most difficult tracks to piece together a complete race run on. With both Pierron and Balanche battling for the overall titles, it is going to come down to the wire to see who can bring home the crystal globes.