Mountain Biking

Giant Cheese And Crazy French Fans: Meribel Hosts Its First MTB World Cup

The Downhill World Cup visits Meribel for the first time as the series finale draws near...

The French version of the Village People are big Sam Hill fans apparently… All photos: Tristan

We’re over in Meribel this weekend as the resort normally known for its snow sports welcomes the mountain bike World Cup for the first time.

It’s safe to say that our first impressions of the resort in summer were pretty dark. Not in a bad way – just that we arrived at 1am and had to navigate the ridiculously windy roads to our appartment in complete darkness. A challenging task to say the least.

After a good sleep and an early rise though, it was off to the event, and day one in Meribel did not disappoint.

The New Course Is Sick

The French resort may not be known for its mountain biking, but it’s been building trails and growing the sport for the past few summers. A walk down the track proved that they certainly know what they’re doing up there – and also that my knees can’t quite hack an hour of hiking downhill as well as they probably should be able to.

It turns out in France they do trials biking on giant blocks of cheese.

The course is packed with rocks and roots, and was riding a little slippy after rain the previous night. It’s a technical ride, one that involves very little pedalling, and one that makes fantastic use of the natural obstacles around the mountain – just how the riders like it.

The French Fans Are Awesome

The fans were out in force too, some bearing tights and shouting out Sam Hill on their topless chests, others just doing their own, more normal thing. Needless to say, there were plenty of French horns kicking about and you couldn’t go ten metres without seeing someone slipping in the dirt.

They Use Giant Cheese In Trials Biking

French trials riding brings a new meaning to the phrase ‘cheese wedge’. No joke, these are giant rebluchons

When we hit the bottom of the track we thought it’d be good to check out the trials contest going on near the finish line. It turns out in France they do trials biking on giant blocks of cheese. Way to play up to the stereotypes.

Raceday Is Going To Be Insane!

We also managed to catch up with Rachel Atherton and Aaron Gwin, and after having a quick chat it was clear that they had a lot of love for the track as well. Meribel seem to have this stage sorted, and it looks like it’s going to be a sick end to what has been one of the tightest World Cups in recent memory.

With Rachel riding fastest in timed training and Josh ‘Ratboy’ Bryceland going quickest in the men’s, it’s shaping up to be a pretty insane finish. Rachel is still a fair few points behind Emmeline Ragot and Manon Carpenter at the top, but for Ratboy, it’s looking like things are slipping into place for what could be a dream finish.

We don’t quite know how big the party will be or what it will involve if Bryceland bags the overall win, but we’re definitely quite keen to find out.

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