French riders Myriam Nicole and Loris Vergier both delivered spectacular runs to score dominant victories in the final UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill race of the season in Val di Sole, Italy, while the overall series titles went to Switzerland’s Camille Balanche and Frenchman Amaury Pierron.
After suffering a puncture at the previous World Cup round in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, Nicole was determined to make amends on the toughest and most technical course of the year in Italy and finish the season on a high.
Starting early in the race order after another puncture during qualifying, Nicole rode a faultless, extremely aggressive race in finals to set a blistering time of 4m 21.804s that none of her rivals were able get anywhere near, securing her a big win.
The closest to Nicole’s time was Nina Hoffmann, who followed up her second place from the previous weekend’s world championships with another runner-up performance in Italy, finishing in a time of 4m 25.873s, just over four-seconds off Nicole.
Newly crowned world champion Valentina Höll topped qualifying by over four seconds, but was unable to repeat her winning performance on finals day and finished third, over six seconds behind Nicole, while New Zealand’s Jess Blewitt had her best race of the season in fourth place.
Season-long overall series leader Camille Balanche started the race just four weeks after undergoing surgery to plate a broken collarbone she suffered at the previous World Cup race in Canada and with both 2021 champion Valentina Höll and Myriam Nicole still in with a chance of taking the title. If Höll won, Balanche would need to finish at least fourth to claim her first-ever World Cup overall title, while a fifth would suffice if Nicole was victorious.
After keeping her track time to a minimum during practice and qualifying, Balanche delivered an impressively strong and controlled run from her early start position in finals and after a nervous wait to see where Höll would finish, she slotted into fifth and was finally able to celebrate her first title win.
With Mont-Sainte-Anne race winner Finn Iles missing from the men’s final after struggling to recover from a heavy crash he suffered at the World Championships, Amaury Pierron was crowned the overall World Cup champion before the finals even began.
The French rider was unable to add to his four World Cup race wins from this season however after crashing during his race run and finishing down in 53rd place on the day.
Victory instead went to fellow French rider Loris Vergier. After winning in Andorra earlier in the summer, Vergier claimed his second World Cup win of 2022 with a stunning ride that saw him beat fastest qualifier Andreas Kolb by over three seconds and move up to second overall in the series standings.
After dominating qualifying, Kolb maintained his speed for finals to secure his best-ever World Cup result in second place, finishing just over one hundredths of a second ahead of American Dakotah Norton, who also scored his best result of the year, while his Intense team-mate Aaron Gwin and Britain’s Bernard Kerr completed the final podium of the season.
Women’s DH result
1. Myriam Nicole FRA 4:21.804
2. Nina Hoffmann GER +4.069
3. Valentina Höll AUT +6.235
4. Jess Blewitt NZL +6.839
5. Camille Balanche SUI +10.637
Men’s DH result
1. Loris Vergier FRA 3:39.774
2. Andreas Kolb AUT +3.008
3. Dakotah Norton USA +3.129
4. Aaron Gwin USA +4.491
5. Bernard Kerr GBR +5.032
2022 UCI MTB World Cup women’s DH standings
1. Camille Balanche SUI 1465 points
2. Myriam Nicole FRA 1405
3. Valentina Höll AUT 1386
4. Nina Hofman GER 1133
5. Eleonora Farina 1021
2022 UCI MTB World Cup men’s DH standings
1. Amaury Pierron FRA 1253 points
2. Loris Vergier FRA 1008
3. Finn Illes CAN 996
4. Andreas Kolb AUT 826
5. Bernard Kerr GBR 755
Header image: Myriam Nicole performs at UCI DH World Cup in Val di Sole, Italy.