Kiwi Jess Blewitt comes a creditable fourth in UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

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Vali Höll’s trademark aggression paid off at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup as she claimed victory in the downhill race at Vallnord in Andorra, while Loris Vergier took the win in the men’s race thanks to a smooth and error-free run.

– Switzerland’s Camille Balanche was looking to return to winning ways after finishing second last weekend in Lenzerheide and looked to be the clear favourite after dominating during qualifying on Friday.

– When it came to race day, it was Jess Blewitt who stormed into the lead with just five riders remaining thanks to a flawless run down a very dry and dusty course. The New Zealander missed the start of the season due to injury but looked to be back to full speed in Andorra.

– Eleonora Farina was next down but couldn’t match the speed of Blewitt and found herself in third behind the Kiwi and Norway’s Mille Johnset.

– Höll then produced the ride of the day, taming the challenging course and showing incredible speed as she went fastest by more than five seconds

– Having won in Lenzerheide, Myriam Nicole was full of confidence and was on track to snatch the lead before crashing out. Nina Hoffman then produced a clean run to cross the line in second.

– Balanche was last out the gate and was looking to deny Höll her first win of the season, but made several mistakes and had to settle for third.

– Höll, 20, said: “It’s such a relief. I had really bad qualifying and a really bad practice run so I didn’t know what was going on. But I managed to ride hard, keep it clean and ride smart, like an adult and not a junior.”

– In the men’s event, Aaron Gwin looked back to his very best as he snatched the lead by 0.6 seconds and became the first rider of the day to beat Friday’s top qualifying time.

– Finn Iles was the next rider up and the Canadian produced a crazy run. Despite a huge mistake, he was able to somehow stay on the bike and take the lead by a massive 0.7 seconds.

– Frenchman Loïc Bruni showed his class with a clean run that saw him snatch the lead with just two riders remaining. Following a huge crash in the morning, compatriot Amaury Pierron was able to complete the course but found himself down in 12th.

– The final rider of the day was Vergier and the Frenchman produced a thrilling conclusion to the action as he glided over the dust to take the win by a huge 1.4 seconds.

– Vergier, 26, said: “It feels really good to get the win, it was a great weekend. I was able to get the right balance (of risk and reward) and was able to push so I am really happy.”

Women’s DH result
1. Vali Höll: AUT 3:09.803
2. Nina Hoffmann GER +3.538
3. Camille Balanche SUI +3.684
4. Jess Blewitt NZL +5.199
5. Mille Johnset NOR +6.119

Men’s DH result
1. Loris Vergier FRA 2:44.500
2. Loïc Bruni FRA +1.418
3. Finn Iles CAN +1.697
4. Aaron Gwin USA +2.413
5. Andreas Kolb AUT +3.019

2022 UCI MTB World Cup women’s DH standings
1. Camille Balanche SUI 1085 points
2. Myriam Nicole FRA 905
3. Valentina Höll AUT 811
4. Eleonora Farina ITA 675
5. Nina Hofman GER 583

2022 UCI MTB World Cup men’s DH standings
1. Amaury Pierron FRA 930 points
2. Finn Illes CAN 666
3. Loris Vergier FRA 655
4. Matt Walker GBR 564
5. Danny Hart GBR 515

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