5 things we learned from the 2022 Lourdes DH World Cup
1. Lourdes must fix the funicular before hosting another World Cup
It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard the news but the funicular delays in Lourdes were the biggest problem of the weekend. Runners reported waiting 2.5 hours between runs, which is less than ideal in a 3-hour training session.
If we really want downhill to be the F1 of mountain biking, it has to master the basics. Maybe the solution is to start closing fire roads or maybe Discovery can buy a fleet of helicopters next time, either way it needs to be upgraded so Lourdes can fully exploit its potential.
2. French crowds are amazing
On race day, I was crammed into the Lourdes finish area like a sardine next to a troop of friendly “nuns”, deafened by their vuvuzelas and eyeing more hairy French asses than I expected. was expecting on a Sunday afternoon. Simply put, French fans are a different breed.
While some runners are able to absorb this energy and harness it into running rhythm, for others it adds a lot of pressure. When each of those fans wants 30 seconds of your time, it’s a lot harder to get into your racing mindset. Fan access to the riders is one of the best things about World Cup racing, but managing that is another challenge for the riders to overcome, especially if they’re at home.
3. It was one of the tightest women’s races ever
It seems like we say it every year, but the women’s field is tighter and more competitive than ever right now and we expect some titanic battles as the season progresses.
4. There were some problems at the start of the season
There were other issues too, a lack of parts and spares meant the only people who might have been slightly happy with the funicular queues were mechanics who may not have had all the kit they needed to repair broken bikes. Finally, some privateers opted to miss this race altogether as the economy of a trip to Europe during a round 8 weeks apart from the rest of the season just didn’t pay off.
5. BC runners are ready to take over
Also keep an eye out for Gracey Hemstreet. After only racing some World Cups last year, the young Sunshine Coast pinner clocked 7 seconds in a strong field of junior women who already had a full racing season under their belt. If Hemstreet’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his father founded Coast Gravity Park. Look out for her to put together a strong campaign at Team Norco this year.