The team was still split over two countries and two races for a busy week of racing. The Downhill World Cup headed to Snowshoe West Virginia for the final two rounds of the 2021 calendar. Six days of back to back racing and two tracks was going to be a new challenge for the team but nothing we couldn’t adapt to. Meanwhile Matt and Morgane were in Finale Ligure enjoying the beach and gelato for the classic venue of the EWS.
Downhill Race 1 Qualifying
The track in Snowshoe sheared many of the same section from the exciting 2019 race. A small change for race one straight out the gate sent the riders through tight berms into the trees. A fast upper section with big jumps and some rock transfers flattened out towards the bottom of the track where the rocks started.
Emilie had a solid qualifying run on the surprisingly physical track. Qualifying in 10th she was into the main event and onto the live feed. Bernard continued his consistent second half of the season with a 15th place in qualification, a safe run with more in the tank for finals.
Sam had been loving the track, particularly the jumps and high speed upper section. Attacking the track top to bottom Sam put in a great ride to qualify 41st and into the main event. A brilliant performance for him.
Downhill Race 1 Finals
Race one finals came around fast, by Wednesday we were already racing finals. Dry conditions were set for fair and fast racing and the race didn’t disappoint. Emilie started the day out well for the team. A fast start saw her gaining time through the steeper technical mid-section of track and a ferocious pedal out of the final rock garden sent her into 7th. A great ride matching her season best.
Sam was feeling at home racing the finals, a great run with two small mistakes put Sam in 36th and up there with the world best. Happy with his ride Sam had so many positives to take into the next round.
Bernard went hard on the upper section of tracks. Looking pinned on the jumps and committed through the steep section. Just over 2 seconds back at split 2, Bernard crossed the line in 5th. Once the dust had settled from an exciting race Bernard finished off in 16th. Another great and consistent result but Bernard being Bernard, he was wanting more.
Downhill Race 2 Qualifying
Small changes to the track for race two mixed things up for the riders, a big step-down jump replaced some tighter woods and another tricky rock section was added in the middle of the track. Emilie put in another solid qualifying into 10th while Bernard placed 16th again. That’s 16th for 5 race runs in row for Bernard, impressively consistent.
Sam was feeling confident after a great first round and was enjoying the track changes. Figuring out the changes helped Sam post another fast ride that qualified him in 28th.
Downhill Race 2 Finals
Emilie dropped in for her final ever World Cup race run. The crowd had built throughout the week and gave her the loudest send off she could have imagined. Finishing in 9th and another top 10 position ends a fantastic career for Emilie. She has been part of the Pivot Factory Racing team since the start and we have shared lots of ups and downs and wouldn’t change a second.
Sam attacked out the gate and was looking strong through the lower rock section. His strong and precise style helped through the unpredictable rocks. Keeping the bike low and fast over the last jump Sam sprinted across the line to finish 29th. Another great result was a brilliant way to end the season for Sam.
Bernard was getting frustrated with 16th place and planned to push hard to change this. A fast first two splits saw him within a second of the fastest time. Coming into the first rock section pinned his front wheel pinged of something sending him off line. With the speed and huge rocks there was nowhere to go and Bernard came to an abrupt stop against a huge boulder. A nasty looking crash didn’t affect Bernard as he was straight back on the bike to finish his run but all chance of a fast time was gone.
Overall a great race for the team in the USA and a great way to end the season and Emilie’s career.
EWS Day 1 Pro Stage
The penultimate round of the 2021 EWS kicked off with a short but steep Pro Stage for Matt and Morgane. A steep and very tight track finished in the beautiful medieval old town of Finale Ligure. Matt rode well, taking his time on the tight corners ensuring a clean run that would put him in 5th on the stage. Morgane rode safe too, a clean run saw her in 7th only a few seconds back from the winning time.
EWS Day 2 Race Day
A big and hot day awaited the riders and started off with a two-hour liaison to the top of stage 1. After a long hot pedal up the hill Morgane started the day off with a bang, winning the first stage she jumped to 2nd overall with a fast and clean ride.
Matt was feeling good on stage one until a crash cost him time and dropped him some places but was still in the hunt for a top 10.
Stage 2 was the queen stage, at almost 12 minutes racing, it was long, physical and tough. Matt clawed back some time with a strong ride and a well-paced pedalling section towards the end. Morgane was feeling confident after the stage one win and went back to back with an amazing ride to win the stage by over 16 seconds and take the overall.
Stage 3 was the most technical of the day, lots of corners and rocks made even more tricky by the fatigue riders were feeling in the second half of the day. A safe ride from both Matt and Morgane saw them maintain their overall position heading into the final stage.
A repeat of the Pro Stage would end the EWS Final Round. Matt got caught out on an awkward rock sending him lying over the bars. A ‘hugey’ as Matt described the crash left him with a dislocated shoulder on the already weak side of his body. Soldering down the hill but barely able to hold on, Matt lost minutes and any contention of a result.
Morgane had a healthy lead in the overall but with such a tricky stage anything could happen. Morgane decided attack was the best option and a great run saw her take the second fastest stage time but more importantly secure the overall race win by over 16 seconds.
A dominant display from Morgane was rewarded with a race win and champagne shower on the podium.
Morgane’s win rounded off an eventful race week for the team. With only one EWS round left to race Matt and Morgane have two weeks to rest and recover before heading to Scotland and the last race of the season.
A huge thanks for all the support over the last few busy weeks of racing. We appreciate all the help and we can’t wait for the final race of the season.