Inside huge rides from Vali Höll, Loris Vergier and Bodhi Kuhn
Vali Höll is the new elite women’s downhill World Champion!
Höll improved her qualification time by more than 10 seconds to win the rainbow jersey. Her final time on a fast, varied and difficult track in Les Gets was 3:53.857, less than a second ahead of second-place Nina Hoffmann, and approximately 3.5 seconds ahead of third-place Myriam Nicole, who posted the fastest time in qualis.
“I thought I had a decent run in qualis and got smoked by Pompon [Myriam Nicole], and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be hard,'” Höll said after the race. “Then this morning I was so stressed and made the same mistakes as the day before. And I was thinking, ‘Well, if I get a third place, that would be amazing, just to medal at World Champs.’ I never would have thought I’d be able to win here.”
Höll is just 20 years old and in her second year of elite racing, but in that span she has established herself as a force with the RockShox Trek Race Team. In 2021, she won the last two World Cup races in Snowshoe to win the women’s World Cup overall title in dramatic fashion. This year, she has racked up World Cup wins in Andorra and Mont-Sainte-Anne to go alongside the ultimate prize in mountain biking.
“I don’t really know what to think right now,” Höll said. “When I go to Val di Sole and I have my race kit on, it’ll be indescribable. Everyone remembers you’re the world champion. You always get to keep it somewhere on your jersey and it’s just incredible.”
Höll is one of the most fiery competitors in the sport. Her celebration after the win was, naturally, epic:
Höll has already blown the world of downhill racing away, and now she’ll have the opportunity to wear the rainbow jersey for the next year of racing. Get your popcorn ready for what she’ll do next.
Loris Vergier completes French podium
Loris Vergier wasn’t expecting much from World Championships. He fractured a bone in his shoulder during a crash while practicing in Mont-Sainte-Anne, and though he was cleared to race in Les Gets, he’s been battling pain. During qualifications, he took a respectable, but well-off-podium-pace 14th.
But come finals, Vergier was in prime form. Forecasted rain held off, making for fast conditions on a tough, technical track. Many riders fell. Vergier was clean and fast, and secured third place by 0.8 seconds behind second-place Amaury Pierron and just over three seconds behind a blistering Loïc Bruni.
“It was a couple weeks pretty hard to come back from that injury. I didn’t know if I could race hard. And mentally it was the hardest,” Vergier said after the race. “The shoulder was really OK, it was just tough to get the confidence back. There’s a lot of trees here, and I didn’t want to hit any. It was definitely not the perfect build-up to the race.”
Vergier held off fourth-place Troy Brosnan by just under a half second to complete an All-France podium for a home crowd that immediately stormed the finish line as soon as the last rider crossed.
“The race run went really well. I could not have expected better. I was tired, and I made it on the podium,” Vergier said. “Three Frenchies. Insane crowd. For this spot, I think it was probably the best day ever. I’m really happy about that. And hopefully we can get some speed for the next round in Val di Sole and end the season well.”
With the result, Vergier added another highlight to a difficult season for the Trek Factory Racing Downhill squad. Charlie Harrison, Kade Edwards and Reece Wilson have all missed multiple races due to injuries. Vergier himself was forced to pull out of his Mont-Sainte-Anne start at the last minute because of his shoulder.
But Vergier has been an otherwise centering presence on the World Cup circuit this season, securing a win in Andorra to go with four other top 10 finishes. A World Championship podium is the icing on yet another strong season for the Frenchman.
Custom paint = speed boost?
Vergier rode the race on a head-turning custom paint job for his Trek Session. Höll got in on the action, too, with a ruby red scheme. Two stunning results on two stunning bikes.
Coincidence you say? Well Bodhi Kuhn made it a trend. The 17-year-old Canadian rode his first ever junior men’s downhill World Championship race on a smoky red and white scheme and took fifth as one of the youngest riders in the field.
Kuhn is establishing himself as a rider to watch. He has now finished fifth or better in five of his last six World Cup-level races, including a third place in Mont-Sainte-Anne. He’ll be riding fast — and looking good doing it — for years to come.