Les Gets - Feedback and pictures - the UCI MTB World Cup 2019
Les Gets is back on the calendar for the Cross Country and Downhill UCI world cup. The event was a massive success, the atmosphere in the village was ecstatic with people coming from all over the world to support their riders. In total there were 668 professional riders and 102 teams.
This year, Les Gets hosted the 5th Stage of the downhill world cup and the 4th Stage of the Cross country XCC and XCO. Next year Les Gets will be hosting the finals for the UCI world Championship – the biggest and most prestigious mountain bike event in the world.
One of the great things about this event was you could easily brush shoulders with professional athletes, chat with them in the village and get very close to the real action when racing.
Chalets 1066 accommodated 6 teams, including: Santa Cruz, New Zealand, Ghost, Specialized, Canada, and Scott.
Short Cross Country XCC – Friday 12th July:
The first finals was held on Friday with the XCC event – the short cross country – where riders raced 8 laps.
The course was short and fast, set at the bottom of the Chavannes, right next to the Les Gets town centre, which is a green and red mountain bike run open to the public in the summer and is a blue ski run in the winter. What made it hard for the professional athletes was the route through the woods, the speed at which they tackled the course and that they climbed some routes which the average rider would ride down.
We positioned ourselves initially with a good view of the ramp, and later on close to the finish.
Womens: this was won by Kate Courtney of the USA, second was Pauline Ferrand Prevot and, 3rd & 4th place were won by Elisabeth Brandau from Germany and Jolanda Neff from Switzerland. The picture opposite is part way through the race, showing the leaders.
Mens: the first three were all very close – 1st place was taken Mathieu Van der Poel from the Netherlands, 2nd place was Henrique Avancini from Brazil. Again, the picture opposite was taken part way through the race – you can see them fighting for the lead.
Downhill – Saturday 13thJuly.
The route started from close to the top of Mont Chery, at 1719m, by the Grande Ourse restaurant.
The first part has sweeping bends, was fast, with a road gap and a jump. The route then went into woods which were difficult with a lot of routes – one has to be very careful about taking the right line. Then there is a lower section with two jumps over roads and s jump over a small river, the end had a sweeping finish to the finish line just behind the Mont Chery lift.
This course is a black mountain bike run, open to the public in the summer, a comfortable downhill mountain biker will be able to tackle this route, however, the jumps are taken out for the public. The length is 2300m and descent 550m.
We initially positioned ourselves by the jump which went over the road to the Lassare area (the last road jump on the route). Whilst it was a jump of around 4 metres over the road – and around a 3m drop, it was easy to get an amazing position to see world class athletes – simply by walking up the road on Mont Chery (there was no entrance fee to see the event). At the bottom of the route there was a massive TV where you could easily find a place on the grass – again at no cost. We took some great pictures both the women and mens elite teams, as you can see opposite.
In the womens elite event, Tracey Hannah of Australia was the clear winner, Marine Caribou (Scott team - French) came second. The Scott team - who stayed in our accommodation also won the team event.
The mens elite downhill was exciting, the end was a very close fight between Loic Bruni (Specialized) and Amaury Pierron (Commencal) both French. Amaury just beat Loic by just 2.352 seconds to a huge cheer at the end.
Long Cross Country - XCO - Sunday 14th July
The course was set on the bottom of the Chavannes piste, with 8 laps and a punishing altitude climb. The riders were tested to their limits as part of the trail was a steep red which could be seen from most of Les Gets, followed by a brutal climb back up the Chavannes. It was an incredible experience watching athletes tackle the course at such speed. After a couple of turns, the trail went into woods with many tight turns and steep rooted technical terrain. Coming out of the woods there was a downhill section with sweeping bends partly through woods. The final section went under the arch between the Marie and the Office de Tourisme to finish after a straight of around 100m.
In the womens event, Kate Courtney (Scott/USA) was clearly in the lead and by the middle of the race by a significant margin, however, to the end of the race, Jolanda Neff (Trek/Swiss) closed in on her, Kate won with a gap of just 0.33 seconds. See picture below of Kate Courtney winning the race.
The mens event started very fast, at the first bend there was the first accident with one rider off. Nino Schurter (Scott/Swiss) took first place.
Despite there being some 55 000 spectators, for those who wanted to mountain bike as well as watch the event, the trails were still easily accessible and with endless routes across the Portes du Soleil, great mountain biking was still available to everyone during the event – 600km of tracks and 19 mountain lifts.
Riding in Les Gets is incredible all season for all abilities and it is an amazing experience to ride a world cup course, the downhill may be more than an average rider can manage, as it is graded a black, however, the cross country is a route most riders can manage.
Article and Photographs by Ben and Mark Nathan.
Copyright: SARL Vacances aux Chavannes