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Images of Race number 1 from UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Snowshoe West Virginia
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Camille Balanche Takes Second at UCI MTB World Cup Snowshoe

Sep 162021

The mountain bike season finals are officially underway! Monster Energy congratulates Camille Balanche on taking second place in Race One at the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Finals in Snowshoe, West Virginia on Wednesday. In the penultimate race before crowning this year’s world champion racers, the 31-year-old from La Chaux-de-Fond, Switzerland, finished with a 3:44.850 total time.

Also putting on a strong performance, 24-year-old Marine Cabirou from Millau, France, took third place in the Elite Women division with a 3:45.928 finish. In the Elite Men division, 25-year-old Loris Vergier from Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, finished in third place with a 3:10.646 total time to boost his overall season points before Saturday’s final race. He was joined on the podium by his teammate, 26-year-old Mark Wallace from Canada in fifth place on the strength of a 3:11.398 finish.

This week’s 2021 Mercedes-Benz UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup Final in Snowshoe is contested as a two-race event: the season’s only doubleheader. Following Wednesday’s first race day, the winners will be decided after the second race on Saturday based on their overall 2021 season standings. Historically, this marks the second time that the small town surrounded by a thriving mountain bike community is hosting the season-ending round on the World Cup calendar.

As the grand finale to an eventful season with stops across Europe, Snowshoe marks the only race in the United States. And it’s a big one: Peppered with berms, jumps, and drops, the technical track in the Appalachian Mountains is a favorite among racers. Dropping over 800 feet, the track allows for some of the highest speeds on the circuit in the upper sections and then gives way to what is essentially an unrelenting rock garden for the final two minutes of the track. There is no break from the awkward corners and square-edged rocks looking to explode carbon wheels and relieve tires of their air.

 

At over 4,800-feet elevation, altitude also plays its part as athletes are struggling to get acclimated to the thin air all the while dealing with their jet lag. Following a short off week following the Lenzerheide event, the entire circus had to make the move from Europe to the East Coast of America in order to prepare for both an odd Wednesday race, as well as a Saturday World Cup finale.

 

Currently sitting in second place in season standings, Balanche attacked the challenging course at Snowshoe with speed and precision. When the dust settled, the 31-year-old Swiss rider claimed second place with a 3:44.850 total time.

 

“I just had a good run and did what I had to do. I’m just stoked about the result, another podium is amazing,” said Balanche, adding: “The track here is special. I really like the bottom part in the rocks, I think it’s fun. The top section is a bit less what I like, more bike park stuff but it’s fun to ride and in good condition, not slippery at all.”

 

After her second-place finish, Balanche still holds second place in the overall season rankings with 895 points. But she edges closer to the leader, France’s Myriam Nicole, currently in first place on a 985-point total. With one more race to go, the Elite Women division is still within reach for Monster Energy’s Balanche.

Looking ahead at the final race, Balanche said: “It’s going to be really tough on the body to race this one again because we have no rest day, so we’ll see how that goes. Mentally it’s hard to focus every day. The track is fun though, so I’m looking forward to it.”

 

Rounding out a successful day in the Elite Women race, Cabirou from Millau, France, followed closely on Balanche’s heels. When all was said and done, the 24-year-old claimed third place with a 3:45.928 finish.

 

“I’m pretty excited, I’m happy to be on the box today and really looking forward to the second race. I really like this track, it’s pretty cool but if you make any mistakes, you lose a lot of time, so it isn’t easy to race,” said Marine Cabirou.

 

The result boosts Cabirou into seventh place at 491 points after a challenging season that included second place at the 2021 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy. Speaking on the upcoming finals, Cabirou said: “I think for the next one I’ll just push a little bit harder and go a little bit faster and hope it works out!”

 

In the Elite Men division, Vergier came in as a favorite after back-to-back victories at World Cup races in Maribor, Slovenia, and Lenzerheide, Switzerland. The newly minted European Champion attacked the course in signature ‘Flying Frenchman’ style and secured third place with a 3:10.646 total time, 0.580 seconds behind first place.

 

“I’m really happy. I think it was a good day for the team and everyone really. No one got injured and the track was running super-fast, and everyone was so close to the fastest time. The sport is crazy these days!” said Vergier. “I had a good day, and this week was a struggle so I’m happy to be on the podium, I had a couple of crashes so. It’s so tough to push because some sections are really tight, and then some are so fast; it’s hard to find that flow. It feels great to be on the podium.”

 

Also claiming a podium spot was 26-year-old Mark Wallace from Canada in fifth place on the strength of a 3:11.398 finish, only 1.332 off of the lead. “I’m very excited! I’ve been trying to get one of these for a while, so I’m stoked to get it done. I like this track enough that I’m not upset to have to race it again in three days.”

 

The biggest upset of the race was Monster Energy rider and current season leader Thibaut Dapréla breaking a front wheel and losing out on valuable season points. The 20-year-old from France still retains the leader’s jersey, but his lead has shrunk significantly: Holding on to first place at 752 points, Dapréla is now only 46 points ahead of Vergier in second place.

 

As Vergier calls it: “The second race is going to be decisive. I’m 46 points back so it’s doable but everything is there to lose or win. We’ll see!”

 

With that said, anything can happen in Saturday’s final race in Snowshoe! The World Cup finals will once again come down to the last race of the year here in Snowshoe, as they did in 2019. First place in the Elite Men and Elite Women divisions will net 250 points, respectively. The final battle in the Men’s division will unfold between main contenders Dapréla and Vergier – with Loic Brun also still having a shot. Also watch for Balanche versus Myriam Nicole in Women’s, not counting out Vali Holl currently in third. Stay tuned for the grand finale at Snowshoe!

 

One more thing: For another top-three finish in Snowshoe, Monster Army rider Tristan Lemire took home a strong third place in the Junior Men division. Holding his own in a field of talented upstarts, the 17-year-old from Quebec, Canada, finished the track in 3:22.191 total.

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