The biggest World Cup races in Lourdes

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Known for its unforgiving rocks and dangerous surface when wet, the Lourdes route plunges down from its starting point next to the top station of the Pic du Jer funicular. There is room for a few pedal strokes at the start but not much more – Lourdes races are won through technical prowess and courage. It is not surprising that Aaron Gvinthe chainless marvel, dominated here in 2015 and ’16.
following Loic Bruni 2021 World Cup title and At Myriam Nicole’s battle with Vali Holl, fans will be back in full force, cheering on their heroes for a home win. But with the race dropping at the start of the year, could we see a slippery repeat of the 2017 washout? Here is a look back at some races and memorable moments from Lourdes DH.

1. Emmeline Ragot scores for France, 2015

Emmeline Ragot started her 2015 campaign with a bang in the final season of an illustrious career. Under blue skies and perfect track conditions, Ragot rode a dominant run to claim a home victory ahead of none other than Rachel Atherton and Miriam Nicole. The spectators enjoyed the victory and Ragot savored the eighth victory of his more than ten-year career on the World Cup circuit. Watch Ragot’s run from 7:53 in the video below.

26 minutes

Lourdes Extended DH Highlights

Extended summary of the downhill races from the first round of the 2015 World Cup.

2. Stevie Smith Turn It On, 2016

Bad weather in the lead-up to Lourdes 2016 left the track swampy during practice. Things got tougher for the finals as the ground started to dry out in places while remaining slippery and cumbersome in the sections under the forest canopy. A big result would require a masterful race – stepping into Stevie Smith and Aaron Gwin, the two kings of greasy conditions (as proven by their respective victories in 2013 and 2017 at Mont-Sainte-Anne). Gwin won the day, but Smith’s second-place finish (starts at 6:33 p.m. in player below) marked a return to form after battling injuries for several years. Tragically, this would be Smith’s last World Cup podium.

26 minutes

Summary of Lourdes

Lourdes again hosted the UCI MTB Downhill opener for 2016 and the race drama was as high as the Pyrenees.

3. Greg Minnaar and the Syndicate rise to the occasion, 2017

There had been a rash of rumors in the run-up to the 2017 season opener, but was it true that Syndicat de Santa Cruz could arrive in Lourdes on 29er wheels? Oh yes, and they have arrived – Greg Minnaar, Luca Shaw and Loris Vergier had secretly tested 29ers after Minnaar pushed Santa Cruz to develop a truly race-capable bike in time for the season.

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Lourdes 2017: Highlights of DH practice

Lourdes 2017: Highlights of DH practice

Other teams looked somewhat panicked as all three riders qualified in the top six, with Vergier taking the top spot (watch clips of their races in the video below). Luckily – for everyone – the rain fell in the final and the race was a disaster.

4. Alexandre Fayolle takes the stage, 2017

With the 2017 men’s race in cold rain, there was room for an outstanding result for anyone able to seize the opportunity. Much to the delight of frenzied spectators, that person would be Alexandre Fayolle, who overtook his previous best of fourth at the World Cup (Vallnord, 2016) to claim victory on home soil and start the season with a bang.

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Alexandre Fayolle’s winning race – Lourdes

Watch Alexandre Fayolle’s winning run in Lourdes, France.

5. Go against the grain

Often certain riders shine when a DH World Cup course is known for its severity. In the case of Lourdes, Rachel Atherton and Aaron Gwin have the advantage in terms of victories, with two each. Atherton took second place in 2015, but she was victorious in 2016 (video below) and ’17; Gwin won in 2015 and 2016 (in 2017 he qualified fifth but crashed out in the rainy finals). However, with Atherton recently mothered and Gwin riding a brand new Intense bike for 2022, many riders will be looking to write their name in the Lourdes winner’s book.

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UCI Lourdes 2016 – Rachel Atherton’s winning race

Rachel Atherton’s winning run at the 2016 Lourdes UCI DH World Cup.

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