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Thibaut Dapréla Takes First Place at UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill Race in Les Gets, France

Jul 062021

Way to storm the podium! Monster Energy congratulates its mountain bike athletes on a strong performance at the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Les Gets, France, this weekend. In round two of the MTB downhill racing season, 20-year-old Monster Energy rider Thibaut Dapréla from France claimed first place in the Elite Men’s Racing division with a 3:33.424-minute finish, his first World Cup win. The rookie was joined on the podium by 27-year-old Australian Connor Fearon in fourth place and 26-year-old Canadian rider Mark Wallace in fifth.

In the Elite Women downhill MTB race, new Monster Energy team rider and 2020 UCI Downhill World Cup Champion Camille Balanche claimed a podium spot: In a competitive final race overshadowed by rain, the 31-year-old from La Chaux-de-Fond, Switzerland took third place with a 4:15.480-minute finish time.

On the strength of this weekend’s results, Monster Energy riders dominate thecurrent UCI Mountain Bike World Cup leaderboard rankings: Dapréla leads the Elite Men’s scores with 390 points, Balanche commands first place in the Women's UCI Downhill MTB World Cup overall standings; also with 390 points. The 2021 season will feature two more race events in Europe before the World Cup final in Snowshoe, United States.

 

The venue in Les Gets, at the heart of the Portes du Soleil ski resort in the French Alps is hallowed ground on the downhill MTB circuit. Eighteen years ago, the course hosted the Mountain Bike World Championships and is scheduled to crown world champions once again in 2022. For this weekend’s race, Les Gets received some key updates that would test riders to the fullest on the notoriously steep track.

 

Les Gets is also notorious for unpredictable weather – and this weekend was no different. The skies opened just as the Elite Men riders were dropping in. By the time the top qualifiers were set to drop, the track had turned into a swamp with flowing rivers in some areas, and an ice rink in others. With top speeds well above 40mph and challenging track conditions, several hard crashes overshadowed the outstanding performances.

 

Speaking of crashes, Dapréla came to Les Gets after suffering a heavy fall at a French Cup the week before. Dapréla ended up with a broken nose, two black eyes and a lacerated tongue. The tongue injury proved especially severe and required more than 30 stitches to repair. But the French rookie, who started his season with a second place at the opening race in Leogang, Austria, was undaunted.

Despite only having a couple days of rest after the injury, Dapréla decided to race this week and go for glory on his home track. Unleashing the beast, it took a little luck, lots of skill and tons of determination for the 20-year-old to secure his very first Elite win. With a total time of 3:33.424 minutes, he coasted into the finish more than 2.4 seconds ahead of the next competitor.

 

“It’s amazing to win my first Elite Men’s World Cup race, especially because it was a tough week after my crash last week. I wasn’t even sure I was going to race this weekend, but after the qualifying and the training I knew I could have a really good day,” said Dapréla upon taking first place in Les Gets, adding: “I put in a good run, even though I was pretty lucky with the weather. My only goal was to ride fast and that’s what I did. I’m so happy.”

 

In the Elite Women’s downhill race, brand-new Monster Energy rider and reigning 2020 DH World Cup Champion Camille Balanche claimed her spot in the top three. Dropping in on the steep course as the points leader in current season standings, the 31-year-old proved her technical skills in the wood sections and took third place with a 4:15.480-minute finish.

 

“It was really hard. Big rain just before the final, we didn’t know which tire to ride and whether we should have roll offs or no roll offs. I slipped on the roots really early in my race and had a crash, so I knew I had nothing to lose. It’s funny because at home I hate steep stuff, but I’m just surprising myself here! I'm really happy and just living the dream,” said Balanche.

 

Following the race in Les Gets, Balanche holds the top spot in the Elite Women’s division with 390 points in total. In Elite Men’s, Monster Energy’s Dapréla is currently ranked first, followed by Monster team rider Troy Brosnan from Australia in second place with 270 points. Brosnan, who took first in the Leogang season opener, suffered a qualifying crash in Les Gets and again slipped out on a wet root on finals day, taking him out of contention.

 

Fellow Australian Monster rider Connor Fearon from Adelaide claimed a podium spot this weekend with a 3:36.014-minute total time for fourth place. “With the pandemic, I just realized it’s been 22 months since my last World Cup final in Snowshoe West Virginia in 2019. After Leogang last week, going here and getting a podium feels good. I’m happy with how I rode,” said Connor Fearon. 

 

Joining Dapréla and Fearon on the podium was 26-year-old Canadian rider Mark Wallace in fifth place with a 3:36.205 minute finish. “There was a bit of luck and timing involved, but you have to appreciate it when you finally get the good luck. It was a solid run; it was hectic this morning in practice, and I rode some lines I’d never ridden before. I tried to put one together, but I was happy with it,” said Wallace, adding: “I’m looking forward to going back to Maribor [Slovenia] in August, I’ve had some success there.”

 

Next up, riders will head into their four-week Olympic break where most will rest up before resuming World Cup racing in Maribor, Slovenia from August 14-15, 2021. Afterwards, the action commences in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, from September 4-5, 2021, before the World Cup finals in Snowshoe, United States. Stay tuned!

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